by Kimberley Graham
Clean and safe indoor air quality are important considerations for commercial and residential spaces, particularly during the global pandemic. Poor indoor air quality may cause health problems in some people, such as irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat, as well as dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. When not enough outdoor air enters indoors, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health risks. As air continually circulates inside, it is important to open the windows regularly to allow for fresh air circulation and break up particle clusters.
However, both indoor air and outdoor air may contain airborne pollutants.These include cigarette smoke, asbestos, mould, lead, carbon monoxide, chemical cleaning products, pesticides, radon, pet hair and dust mites. Volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde and other chemicals are also present in fabrics and building materials such as paint and coated surfaces. In fact many people don’t realise how common activities are negatively affecting indoor air quality. Children are at greater risk of being negatively impacted, as well as the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma. That’s why regular disinfection, maintenance and cleaning of Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) can be effectively achieved with Ultra Violet (UV-C) light, together with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems. So how do they work?
Ultra Violet Light
Some types of ultra violet light have disinfectant properties. Ultra violet wavelengths in the photo-biological short-wave spectral band between 200 to 280 nanometers (nm), known as ‘UV-C’ have been shown to be effective for disinfecting air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UV-C light is germicidal, which means it disrupts and deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. By destroying the DNA of germs, their ability to multiply is disrupted and they do not survive. UV-C light has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of COVID-19 and is therefore highly effective in preventing the spread of the disease.
UV-C light radiation is commonly used inside air ducts and HVAC systems to disinfect the air. This is actually the safest way to apply UV-C radiation because direct exposure to the skin or eyes may cause harm or injury. It should also be noted, that UV-C radiation needs to be directly applied to the pathogen for it to be effective. This means thorough and regular application is critical. For more information see the relevant USDA web page.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration
HEPA filters can capture up to 99.7 percent of all air-borne contaminants that are 0.3 microns or greater, including pathogens, fine dust, mould, viruses, and pollen, among other impurities. HEPA filters are usually made from cellulose, glass or other synthetic materials to create a close-meshed network of fibres. This network of filters capture particles through several thin filter layers which are placed on top of one another to offer a large filter-to-surface ratio. Depending on the material used, a HEPA filter can be washed out for reuse. Particle measurement and filter leak tests need to be carried out regularly. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the filters is also essential. HEPA filters are particularly common in HVAC systems inside research, medicine, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in the microtechnology, nuclear, food and semiconductor industries. HEPA filters help to stop the spread of COVID-19, while offering other benefits like fewer airborne particles and contaminants, such as dust indoors. HEPA filters therefore offer better indoor air quality that causes fewer problems for children and people with allergies and asthma.
Good indoor air quality is not only critically important now in the time of COVID-19, it is also critical for preventing long-term illnesses. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a range of serious and chronic diseases, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease. During the winter months and in consideration of the normal flu season on top of the pandemic, it is highly recommended to clean and disinfect HVAC systems each quarter, at the minimum. So what are you waiting for? Book your HVAC maintenance and cleaning service today and breathe easy in the coming months.