Ventilation & Air Quality Upgrades to Keep You Safer This Fall
Boy has this year felt like a rollercoaster! For starters, the new decade had barely begun when we went into quarantine.
From there, we have heard one set of conflicting instructions after another, leaving us without a clear idea of how to avoid getting COVID-19.
Recently, the Ontario education minister released a $500M fund designed to upgrade the air quality and ventilation in schools this fall.
$500 million is a pretty forceful number - wouldn't you agree? This decision is in alignment with what air quality engineers and research virologists are now asserting: that the virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily an airborne pathogen.
Scary, yes, but it is also good to have actual facts to work from. Whether or not you can control the air quality at your children's school or not, you can absolutely improve the air quality at your home. We will explain how in this timely post.
Improve Air Filtration
Even back before research confirmed the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already released updates encouraging the use of portable or central air cleaners.
Here, the term "air cleaner" refers to both air filtration systems and air purification systems, however, all air cleaners are not equal when it comes to addressing concerns specific to COVID-19.
In particular, you want to avoid any air cleaner that produces ozone as a by-product. You also need to be aware of the limitations of basic air filters (lower-rated MERV HVAC filters).
The type of air cleaner that is being widely used in hospitals, clinics and laboratories worldwide is called a HEPA filter.
HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air" and it refers to the filter's ability to trap airborne solid particles, in effect straining them out of your indoor air.
Of course, this is exactly what your normal MERV filter does but HEPA filters do it much, much better.
A HEPA filter can remove particles as small as 1/100th the width of a single one of your hairs! Are you in need of your own HEPA filter to help improve your at-home indoor air quality? Contact our team at Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario!
Can HEPA filters trap SARS-CoV-2 particles?
The short answer is "yes", however, it is important to understand that the particles that carry the virus are liquid droplets, not solids. What happens is that a liquid droplet containing viral RNA hitches a ride on a solid particle.
The solid particle with its viral hitchhiker then gets propelled by air currents into the HEPA filter, which then traps it and permanently removes it from your indoor air.
The average size of an airborne viral droplet is 0.125 microns, or 125 nanometers (so, basically, it is very small).
HEPA filters can trap solid particles as small as 0.01 microns, or just 10 nanometers, and they can do it with 99.97% efficiency.
Installing a HEPA filter is a reliable way to trap any airborne droplets that have attached to airborne solids such as dust particles, specks of ash, mould or mildew spores, bacteria and other micro-solids.
The key here is making sure that the entirety of your indoor air supply passes through the HEPA filtration unit before it reaches you.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either through installing a central (ducted) HEPA filtration system that works with your existing HVAC system or through adding a portable HEPA air cleaner to your indoor space.
WARNING: What you don't want to do is go out and buy a HEPA-rated furnace filter and install that in place of your normal furnace filter. Unless your HVAC system is rated to handle a HEPA-grade filter, you risk a blower motor burnout, home fire and extremely expensive energy bills trying to clean your air this way.
Increase Air Ventilation
Circulation is the method by which you ensure that every single bit of your indoor air supply has to pass through whatever air cleaner system you choose.
Ventilation, however, is still the single most important ingredient to protect you when you are inside a space where infectious virus droplets are also present.
This is because ventilation is what reduces the concentration of infectious droplets and other toxins so that they are less dangerous if you come into contact with them.
Ventilation is the reason that people are being encouraged to hold necessary meetings and gatherings outdoors whenever possible. When you are outdoors, even if an infected person is in your immediate vicinity, the amount of infectious viral matter is likely to be at a lower density with so much fresh air surrounding it.
You can add ventilation by opening a window or door to the outside. Turning on your HVAC fan or running exhaust fans can also improve ventilation indoors.
The heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is the gold standard for adding back fresh, pure outside air into your indoor space. HRVs are a good choice for homes and buildings that have existing ductwork already installed.
Where it is not possible to boost ventilation in any of these ways, air cleaners are your best bet to reduce the risk of infection.
Add Air Purification
Air purification is another way to clean the air. The most powerful purifier on Earth is ultraviolet light from our Sun, and specifically the UV-C light band.
In its short-wave form, UV-C does a fantastic job of damaging the active RNA (the part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can harm you) so it cannot replicate and make you sick.
Here, again, it is vital to make sure that any infected air inside your space passes through the UV-C light band before you breathe it in.
And here again, as with HEPA air filtration systems, there are two main ways to achieve this: either install a central (ducted) UV air purification system or add a portable UV air purifier to your space.
Get in Touch With Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville
Our pandemic extra safety protocols at Bi-Tempt LTD. in Belleville, Ontario allow us to continue providing our clients with prompt and professional 24/7 emergency service - including nights, weekends and holidays!