Rewind even just a few months ago and business owners were going about their days as usual - excited about implementing their carefully-laid out New Year's plans.
We were all anticipating the opportunity to launch into a whole new decade with gumption and gusto, generating new sales, welcoming new customers, evolving our businesses and achieving our goals.
Little did we know just how much gumption and gusto we would need to weather the storm up ahead. COVID-19 has shaken many businesses down to the studs, forcing some out of business and the rest to get creative at unprecedented levels in order to stay afloat.
Now, at last, the province of Ontario is slowly and tentatively beginning to open back up again. Some businesses are already welcoming local customers again while other businesses continue to operate for online or curb-side customers only.
Why the hesitation? There is still so much more to learn about in terms of how to keep ourselves, our staff, our families and our customers safe.
Thankfully, we also know a great deal more than we did about how the new novel coronavirus spreads. This has helped researchers identify three potentially effective methods to limit its impact - ventilation, air filtration and air purification.
Understanding Ventilation, Filtration and Purification
COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of new terms to learn. For instance, when washing your hands it is vital to understand the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, as well as which one can do the best job in killing active coronavirus particles.
In the same way, now that breaking research has all but confirmed that coronavirus can travel via air currents - sometimes at great distances - it is important to know the difference between terms like ventilation, filtration and purification.
Which one does what? How do they work together? If you have to choose, which is most important? Let's find out.
What Is Ventilation?
Ventilation refers to adding fresh air to a space. This is different from circulation. Air circulation refers to air movement - simply moving the air around.
Circulation on its own can't dispel or disperse coronavirus droplets. But when circulation is combined with ventilation, the risk of infection via airborne coronavirus droplets decreases.
What you need to remember here is that ventilation equals additional quantities of incoming fresh air.
What Is Filtration?
Air filtration refers to separating solid particles from air, liquid or gas. Filtration can be accomplished through a number of mechanisms - biological, mechanical or physical.
The type of filtration we are most familiar with is the air filter on our furnace. Every so often you have to take out your air filter and either clean it and put it back, or replace it with a new one.
Here, what you want to remember is that filtration REMOVES solid particles from the air.
What Is Purification?
Purification is a process that hinges on first categorizing some substances as "pure" and some substances as "impure" and then rendering (neutralizing or changing) the impurities apart from the pure air.
There are different methods of purifying the air, including ionic, ozone, heat or light. Ultraviolet light is the purification method recommended for targeting airborne coronavirus droplets.
With purification, what you need to remember is that the process primarily works on gases and liquids, rather than solids.
Improve Your Indoor Ventilation
Last month we blogged about the confirmed link between dirty air and increased COVID-19 risk.
While concerns about dirty outdoor air are legitimate and documented, the toxicity of our indoor air has long been a much greater source of concern.
The EPA has confirmed that, on average, our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air. Indoor air is the air we breathe for 90 percent of the average day. For this reason, it is indoors where our greatest ventilation needs attention.
The simplest way to add more fresh air to any space is to open a window or door. Turning on a ceiling or floor fan helps circulate that fresh air faster to diffuse concentrations of coronavirus droplets and reduce risk of infection.
Additionally, upgrading air intake vents, adding a heat recovery ventilator, equalizing air pressure throughout a multi-room space and increasing air flow are all proven methods to increase ventilation.
Upgrade to HEPA Air Filtration
Standard residential and commercial HVAC systems typically do not have the capacity to work efficiently with HEPA grade air filters without risk of causing the blower motor to overheat dangerously.
These incredibly dense, intricate filters are rated to trap and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne solids - particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair.
A loophole is to install a standalone HEPA air filtration unit that bypasses the blower motor and works directly with your ducts. Portable models are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Add Ultraviolet Air Purification
There is no purification agent more powerful than our sun. Ultraviolet band C is the strongest band of ultraviolet light emitted by our sun. Synthetic short-wave UV-C radiation can effectively penetrate, damage and neutralize coronavirus on contact.
Strong evidence now exists to support coronavirus transmission via air ducts over longer distances. Once coronavirus liquid particles start to evaporate, they get lighter and can become airborne.
But when those liquid droplets come in contact with ultraviolet-C light, they are damaged and cannot infect you. This is one of several reasons why the province of Ontario is now recommending moving group activities outdoors whenever possible.
The best way to add UV air purification is to install an ultraviolet air purification unit to work with your HVAC system's ducts. Portable UV air purifiers are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, air quality and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario.
As one of the oldest heating and cooling companies in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Temp is dedicated to offering the highest quality products, service and knowledge to the Quinte area and beyond. With our highly qualified technicians, we bring years of experience and professionalism in providing your residential, commercial and industrial business with quality heating and cooling services. Please read our COVID-19 contact guide to learn about the safety measures we have implemented to serve you safely!
Over the past few weeks, we have learned much more about the new novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.
But we still don't know enough. Right now it seems as if every day brings new information, some of it confusing or even conflicting.
A few weeks ago, the “hot topic” was face masks and gloves - do they help or don't they? Now the big debate revolves around air quality. Does it matter?
Thankfully, on this topic, we have solid data to support a definitive answer - YES.
Dirty air and coronaviruses are clearly linked. The more polluted the air we breathe, the more risk we bear of contracting a serious or fatal case of COVID-19.
In this post, we are going to tell you what to do to clean up your indoor air ASAP.
Dirty Air Leads to Increased COVID-19 Deaths
Recently, a team of Harvard University researchers convened to evaluate air quality throughout the United States. The study extended to cover 98 percent of all populated areas.
Study data highlighted a clear link between airborne concentration of fine particulate pollutants (PM2.5) and increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Specifically, for every one microgram increase in airborne PM2.5, the risk of COVID-19 fatalities increased by 8 percent.
This data sounds rather dry and impersonal. It isn't.
Researchers estimated that if the area of Manhattan in New York City had been able to reduce its airborne concentration of PM2.5 by just one microgram over the last two decades, it would have saved 248 lives that have now been lost due to COVID-19.
Why is this relevant to us here in Ontario? Because areas of our own province have a very similar level of air toxicity to what is present in Manhattan.
Industrial Toxins Polluting Ontarians' Air Supply
A research study published just a few months ago highlights serious air quality issues unfolding in areas of Ontario and Prince Edward Island.
One of the biggest concerns is the concentration of benzene, a liquid chemical that is both naturally occurring and produced due to petrochemical refining and manufacturing processes.
Benzene exposure is linked to a normally rare form of leukemia. Three times more Canadians living in affected areas have developed this cancer than anywhere else in Canada.
Benzene is not a PM2.5 toxin. But yet another research study proves that exposure to both PM2.5 particulates (many of which are also linked to operations within the petrochemical industry) and benzene can raise the risk of birth defects as well as serious illness.
What does all of this scary information have to do with you?
Simply put, it is vital to know what is polluting your air before you can take action to clean it up!
3 Key Steps to Take to Clean, Filter, and Purify Your Indoor Air
While COVID-19 is definitely getting the lion's share of the spotlight at the moment, it is far from the only serious disease that can be caused or worsened by exposure to dirty air.
By taking the steps we are about to share here, you protect yourself and your family from not just the coronavirus but also from many other health risks both minor and major.
1. Ventilate your indoor space
Ventilation is the process by which your indoor air supply is continuously refreshed.
By simply sitting in your space and breathing, the air becomes depleted of oxygen and rich in carbon dioxide.
Many activities you do in your home can add other toxins into the air. Do you use air fresheners, perfumes, or colognes, commercial cleaning products, wood or gas-fired stoves or fireplaces, or tobacco products?
All of these can release both PM2.5 particulates and volatile organic compounds such as benzene into your indoor air.
Scary, right?! What can you do about this?
A neat appliance called a heat recovery ventilator can send your now-toxified, stale, oxygen-poor air back outside.
At the same time, ventilation pulls in fresh, oxygen-rich outdoor air into your space, removes excess humidity, and works with any indoor air quality aids to filter and purify it.
Ventilation with a heat recovery ventilator ensures that you always have a ready, steady supply of clean, fresh indoor air to breathe. As a perk, HRVs can also recycle otherwise wasted energy to lower your power bills.
2. Filter your indoor air
Solid PM2.5 particulates are incredibly tiny. Regular furnace filters are no match for these microscopic floating toxins.
The only filter that is dense enough to trap and remove PM2.5 particulates from your indoor air is the HEPA air filter. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were first invented during World War II to protect scientists from inhaling radioactive particulates.
Today's HEPA filters are even better and can trap micro-particulates as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair.
HEPA filters offer a higher grade of filtration than what N95 masks can provide. Whereas N95 masks can trap up to 95 percent of micro-particulates, HEPA filters can trap up to 99.97 percent of the same.
3. Purify your indoor air
The last step you need to take is the most important for combatting the coronavirus directly. This is because the coronavirus is a liquid airborne pathogen.
Liquid and gaseous airborne pathogens are less easily captured even by a HEPA filtration system. For this, you need an ultraviolet air purifier.
Ultraviolet air purifiers use synthetic UV-C, the most powerful ultraviolet light band, to damage the thin outer membrane of liquid and gaseous viruses, volatile organic compounds, and other toxins. Once irradiated by UV light, these particles cannot cause harm.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario. Our team is working remotely, but we are still here to serve you.
Please read our updated contact guide to learn how we can help you and your family stay safe and healthy.
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.