October is known as National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month. For facility owners and managers, this is a great opportunity to recognize the importance of IAQ and the reasons to keep IAQ top-of-mind.
Seasonal allergies can play a major role for those occupying any building. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of adults aged 18 and over have a seasonal allergy, eczema or food allergy. In 2021, about 25.7% of adults were diagnosed with a seasonal allergy. In children, the CDC states that nearly one in five (18.9%) of children have a seasonal allergy.
While seasonal allergies play a major role in IAQ, mold and mildew can also negatively affect air conditions inside a facility. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
When it comes to combatting allergies and mold, mechanical HVAC units provide the best defense. Thanks to their filtration, ventilation and dehumidification abilities, HVAC solutions can assist facilities in providing cleaner air to breathe by minimizing the number of airborne allergens and the amount of moisture in the air.
Circulating clean air from outside using an HVAC solution is great for introducing fresh air into a space. With that said, the new air also comes with outdoor allergens. Mechanical HVAC systems help prevent these allergies from circulating in a space by pushing the air through a filter. These filtration systems minimize the number of airborne allergens that enter a specific area of a facility. For commercial facilities, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends the use of MERV 13 filters but prefers MERV 14 or better if the HVAC unit is compatible.
If facility managers or owners want an extra layer of protection, there are upgrades available. For example, Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization was designed to provide an additional layer of protection and works in conjunction with filters to eliminate particulates from the air. This upgrade works by producing a high concentration of positive and negative ions, delivering them to the space via the ventilation system. Once these ions attach to pathogens, they combine and become larger, which makes them easier to filter from the air.
Controlling Moisture and Mold
Mold is one of the most difficult things to eliminate once it invades a facility. As the EPA states, there is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold is to control the moisture inside a particular space. That is where mechanical HVAC solutions come into play.
Thanks to their dehumidification functions, facility managers can control the humidity levels in a space to ensure they are both comfortable and limit the growth of mold. Relative humidity levels need to be between 40% and 60% to create the best atmosphere for building occupants. This will also help decrease the potential for widespread mold growth, thus minimizing the potential effects on the occupants’ health.
A Great IAQ Experience
This year for National IAQ Awareness Month, consider taking the necessary steps to ensure your facility provides an excellent IAQ experience for your building’s occupants. While COVID-19 has received less press over the past several months, it’s still important to keep IAQ top-of-mind to help create great indoor environments for your facility. Whether it’s a K-12 school or a retail store, limiting allergens and mold is essential for producing clean, healthy air.
From upgrading your HVAC solution to finding the proper humidity levels for your space, use National IAQ Awareness Month as a reminder to take proactive steps to improve your air quality.