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HEALTHY AIR, HEALTHY SPACES

Click to learn more about why clean air is critical to creating healthy indoor environment

Importance of Air Purification

While COVID-19 may no longer be top of mind for some organizations, recent surveys and continued research show that the need to improve IAQ is here to stay. The devastating global impact of the latest pandemic permanently altered public perceptions of indoor air quality and how organizations need to change. Employees are aware of the impact of air quality on their health.

The push for cleaner indoor air in our workplaces has been led by public health researchers, national associations and the White House, which have all recognized the role employers, contractors and consultants can play in designing and improving workplaces for better indoor air quality (IAQ). Fellowes surveyed over 1,000-employees of all ages and found that only 1-in-3 said the air was very clean. However 73% of people surveyed agreed that the quality of the air they breathe directly impacts their health and well-being.

Indoor Air Quality Management is Here to Stay

According to research conducted by Carbon Lighthouse, over 80% of millennials said they would feel safer returning to the office if they had access to real-time, transparent information on indoor air quality.

Employees are Demanding More Transparency When it Comes to IAQ:
Majority of respondents think their employer is taking the necessary steps to provide clean indoor air in their workplace.
But, only 36% describe it as very clean.
Respondents agree that clean indoor air helps them perform their best at work.
How Viruses Spread Through the Air

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have acknowledged what many researchers and scientists have long advocated: that the viruses can be transmitted through the air. Called aerosolization, respiratory droplets of infected matter like fluid of sneezes and coughs from an infected person can travel in the air, potentially infecting people in close proximity. What’s more, this acknowledgment also verifies that the virus can travel more than six feet in the air.

Droplets from a single sneeze can quickly contaminate an entire room and stay in the air for extendevd periods of time:

How Far Do Particles Travel?

Cough: 3-6 Feet
Sneeze: 10-27 Feet
HVAC Systems: 150+ Feet
Multi-layer Mitigation Plan to Improve Indoor Air Quality

How Should This Information Change Our Infection Prevention Protocols?

It’s time to change the way we think about indoor hygiene. As Bloomberg so aptly states: “Ask for Air Filters, Not Bleach.” We’ve taken rigorous action to eliminate surface contamination, it’s time we take the same consideration to air.

According to Harvard Schools for Health, the most ideal solution is to bring fresh outdoor air into a room. Unfortunately, it is not the most viable solution in many environments. While HVAC systems work to recirculate the air, they don’t clean the air. That is why it is recommended to utilize True HEPA filtration in addition to HVAC systems to ensure proper ventilation and filtration.

Installing HEPA filters in existing HVAC systems won’t improve building air quality. HEPA filters are bulky and do a better job of trapping germs in the direct area near the intake. These filters drag down HVAC efficiency and reduce air flow.

Focus on Cleaning, Instead of Moving the Air

By installing air purifiers that use a True HEPA Filtration in key areas, you can boost the effectiveness of HVAC systems by not only moving the air but cleaning the air.

That said, it is essential to first understand the difference between HEPA like filtration and True HEPA Filtration to ensure you and others are breathing clean air.

In an Open Letter

A group of 239 scientists in 32 countries have published their open letter to the global health community to present additional evidence. In their letter, the highly qualified group state:

  • Multiple studies “have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air”
  • These microdroplets “pose a risk of exposure at distances beyond [3 to 6 feet] from an infected person”
  • “We are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission”
It Doesn’t Stop at Viruses

Needless to say, the global Covid-19 pandemic has generated a focus on indoor air quality unlike any that has ever been seen before. As a result, HEPA filtration - which had previously been reserved almost exclusively for hospitals, laboratories and other critical environments - is now becoming common in a wide range of building types.

According to the EPA, we spend about 90% of our time indoors, with roughly half of that time in the workplace. Poor indoor air quality isn’t just something to sneeze at either: the EPA lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country.

What’s in the Air?

Odors

The presence of odors can reflect negatively on your facility. Odors from bathrooms, lunchrooms, stale air and more are primary complaint drivers for building managers.

Germs, Bacteria And Other Viruses

Experts agree that the flu virus is mainly spread through airborne droplets. These droplets are made when people cough, sneeze or talk. Despite flu shots and hand sanitization, Americans still catch about one billion colds and 60 million flu cases annually.

Allergens

Approximately 20% of all people are impacted with allergies. Allergic reactions can be triggered by irritants such as seasonal pollen/ragweed, mold, pet dander and dust mites. These irritants also result in respiratory issues for those with asthma, which impacts 1 out of every 10 children.

Other Irritants

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals emitted from everyday products, sometimes even when they are stored. Paints, cleaning supplies, office equipment and more can contain VOCs. These VOCs can potentially trigger headaches, asthma and allergy attacks. Other airborne contaminants include:

  • Mold Spores
  • Pet Odors and Dander
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Fine Air Pollution
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Fine Air Pollution
  • Bacteria
  • Smog
Air Pollution from Wildfires

According to a recent study published by the journal Geohealth, wildfire smoke now accounts for more than half the air pollution measured annually in the Western region. Worse, the pollution caused by the wildfires isn’t just smoke created by wood and tinder, it encompasses VOCs from houses caught in crossfire. Those irritants can compromise respiratory systems and even potentially spread COVID-19.

Significance of Size

As important as it is to understand what’s in the air, it is also important to understand the size of particles and its impact on occupants. The human eye can only see 25 microns or larger. The microns under those sizes are the ones that provide a potentially greater risk as they are small enough to get into your lungs.

Human Hair
100 Microns
Pollen
30 Microns
Smoke
1 Microns
Bacteria
0.3 Microns
Bad Air Impacts the Bottom Line
$225.8
Billion
The U.S. economy loses $225.8 billion in productivity due to worker sick days
$1,685
Per Day
Average company cost of one sick day is $1,685. Absenteeism quickly affects the bottom line!
Poor
Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality, exacerbated by bacteria, viruses and germs, spread from employee to employee and from visitor to visitor causing people to be ill.
Get Protection by Cleaning the Air

Indoor air is full of potential contaminants ranging from viruses to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) to common dust. Proper ventilation combined with purified air exchanges is the best way to reduce the presence of these contaminants, maintaining a healthy living and working condition.

Air Change Rate Matters

Workplaces are full of potential contaminants ranging from viruses to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) to common dust. Proper ventilation and the exchange of air is the best way to reduce the presence of these contaminants, maintaining a healthy working condition. Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) is a measure of air volume that can be added/removed from a space in a given hour.

Why ACH is Important?

Other air purification systems will quote areas of square footage covered but that doesn’t speak to the number of air changes that a system can do in an hour. The more changes per hour, the more quickly the air is purified, and the more quickly contaminants are removed. A machine created for a small office may only change the air 1x per hour, which isn’t enough for places like conference rooms where people are congregating.

How is ACH Calculated?

It might seem complex, but the calculation is simple:

What is a Good ACH?

In general, an ACH of 5 means your air is being cleaned every 12 minutes. You should be aiming for 3-5 air changes per hour. A solution with superior filtration and more air changes per hour is going to do a more effective job at maintaining quality of air. According to Harvard Schools for Health, they recommend utilizing True HEPA filtration in addition to HVAC systems to ensure proper ventilation and filtration.

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