The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the world, with focus now turned to the control and prevention of the spread of the coronavirus. People around the world have been urged to avoid crowded areas and stay home to control and minimize the impact of the disease. But how safe are indoor environments?
The circulated air inside homes or other closed spaces can also contribute to the spread of microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, highlighting the role that HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems can play in the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases.
Maher H. Mousa, director of product management, sustainability and energy efficiency policy, Al-Salem Johnson Controls (YORK), said: “When we think about pollutants, we often think about those found outside, whether in the air, on the ground, or in the water, even though indoor air quality (IAQ) is just as vital to our everyday lives and health, and the pollutants found inside buildings and closed public areas should concern us just as much, if not more, especially these days when the world is faced with the challenge of fighting the spread of the COVID-19.”
Mousa said the design and operation of HVAC systems can hinder disease transmission in several ways. When HVAC systems supply clean air to susceptible occupants, such as in crowded and closed spaces, it helps in reducing the possibility of disease transmission.
He said Al-Salem Johnson Controls offers a complete range of advanced solutions and technologies covering filtration, proper humidification and ultraviolet (UV) air purifiers that reduce airborne contaminants to achieve an optimum room temperature and humidity, and a cleaner and healthier IAQ.
“These HVAC units supply 100 percent fresh air by containing contaminated air and exhausting it to the outdoors, and then replacing it with well-treated fresh air, which re-enters the space after a rigorous filtration process; this process cleans the air within the space/room. Air filtration starts with the pre-filtration stage to prevent dust particles from passing through air. YORK’s units are equipped with filters that do not allow the passage of big particles to the air-conditioned environment through multiple stages of filtration that can achieve up to 95 percent filtration efficiency in comfort application, and 99.95 percent in medical application, thereby increasing the IAQ depending on the application,” the company said.
HVAC systems using UV lights help enhance the IAQ as well as eliminate many types of fungi, bacteria, germs, viruses and pathogens.
Mousa said the company integrates HVAC solutions, control systems and platforms, and data analytics, to help achieve maximum levels of indoor air quality and provide hygienic environments.
An application of its integrated systems in hospitals, for example, is its ability to transform a regular hospital room into either an operation room or an isolation room (with 100 percent fresh air) and vice versa, as and when required. This is done by the integration of YORK Hygienic Air Handling Unit (AHU) with different control technologies. The YORK Hygienic AHU is a special model that complies with strict hygiene requirements, based on international standards (DIN-1946-4, VDI 6022, EN1886 and EN13053). The unit is suitable for hospitals/health care centers, pharmaceutical factories, laboratories, food industries and other places.