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Indoor air quality has become a growing concern among those with allergies and health conscious home owners. The best way to clean the air you breath is by using properly installed filters on your comfort system.
Less expensive filters will prevent dust and debris from building up on your coils and blower wheel, however they do little for you allergies. Hepa filters will clean the air of most particulate, but only when properly installed, otherwise they will choke your comfort system and rob years of of equipment life and cause inefficiencies to accumulate. Ultra Violet Lamps installed in your duct will sterilize the air as it passes through your system.
Newer homes have different issues than older homes. These new homes are sealed tight. They often need ventilation the replenish air consumed by the occupants. Energy Recovery Ventilators are the best solution to this issue. These machines expel stale air and introduce fresh outdoor air while simultaneously exchanging heat in the process.
Indoor Air Contaminants
Biological chemicals can arise from a host of means, but there are two common classes: (a) moisture induced growth of mold colonies and (b) natural substances released into the air such as animal dander and plant pollen. Moisture buildup inside buildings may arise from water penetrating compromised areas of the building envelope or skin, from plumbing leaks, from condensation due to improper ventilation, or from ground moisture penetrating a building part. In areas where cellulosic materials (paper and wood, including drywall) become moist and fail to dry within 48 hours, mold mildew can propagate and release allergenic spores into the air.
In many cases, if materials have failed to dry out several days after the suspected water event, mould growth is suspected within wall cavities even if it is not immediately visible. Through a mould investigation, which may include destructive inspection, one should be able to determine the presence or absence of mould. In a situation where there is visible mould and the indoor air quality may have been compromised, mould remediation may be needed. Mould testing and inspections should be carried out by an independent investigator to avoid any conflict of interest and to insure accurate results; free mould testing offered by remediation companies is not recommended.
Mould is always associated with moisture, and its growth can be inhibited by keeping humidity levels below 50%. Moisture problems causing mould growth can be direct such as a water leaks and/or indirect such as condensation due to humidity levels.
One of the most acutely toxic indoor air contaminants is carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Common sources of carbon monoxide are tobacco smoke, space heaters using fossil fuels, defective central heating furnaces and automobile exhaust. Improvements in indoor levels of CO are systematically improving from increasing implementation of smoke-free laws. By depriving the brain of oxygen, high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to nausea, unconsciousness and death.
Legionellosis or Legionnaire’s Disease is caused by a waterborne bacterium Legionella that grows best in slow-moving or still, warm water. The primary route of exposure is through the creation of an aerosol effect, most commonly from evaporative cooling towers or shower heads. A common source of Legionella in commercial buildings is from poorly placed or maintained evaporative cooling towers, which often release water in an aerosol which may enter nearby ventilation intakes. Outbreaks in medical facilities and nursing homes, where patients are immuno-suppressed and immuno-weak, are the most commonly reported cases of Legionellosis. More than one case has involved outdoor fountains in public attractions. The presence of Legionella in commercial building water supplies is highly under-reported, as healthy people require heavy exposure to acquire infection.