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How Is the Air In Your Office or School?

As we turn the calendar to a new year, we unfortunately are not turning the page on the COVID era. While almost all schools and offices have returned to a somewhat normal (however you now define normal) operation, the question still remains – how is the air in the office or school you are working in or sending your children to?

As our knowledge of COVID has increased our methods of combating it have also gotten better. Long past are the days where people in hazmat suits with foggers are going through public space after someone walks in. There has however been some good things. A focus has been placed on the indoor air quality of our homes, our workplaces and our schools. We are also now understanding that increased indoor air quality not only helps in the battle against COVID but also other viruses like the flu and colds.

So what is your workplace or school doing to improve the health of the working or studying environment? These are great questions to ask but, before you storm down to the HR department we want to encourage you to take a minute to stop, relax, and think of how you can be a part of the solution, working with your company or school rather than just demanding answers about the air in your office or school.

As we have navigated through all of this there have been some things that have been effective and some we thought were going to be effective but were not (Plexiglas dividers, the magical 6 feet, foggers, and so on). The challenge is always to do the best you can with the knowledge you have at the time, then use the test of time to figure out if it is effective. Through all this ventilation, fresh air and filtration have stood out as very effective ways to fight it. These “technologies” have been around for thousands of years so we think it passes the time test.

So using those test of time technologies let’s take a look at what your office or school may be doing our could be doing:

Ventilation: Simply defined it is moving stale or contaminated air out of a given space. The most common way is exhaust fans. Many time people think they are only used in bathrooms or kitchens, but they should be used throughout all spaces. A test to see if the space is being properly ventilated is using a CO2 monitor. If you have a room full of people or kids, as they breath the CO2 level of the room will rise if it is not properly ventilated. Another way is the “human” test. Does the space feel stagnant, have smells and so forth. There are multiple ways a space can be effectively ventilated. Adding exhaust fans, air exchangers or utilizing existing infrastructure are some. Depending on the building there can be some low cost solutions or it might require a larger investment.

Fresh Air: Having a source that brings fresh outside air into the space to replace the exhausted air or at least dilutes it. There are basically two ways to do this. One is passive – doing things like opening windows or doors if it can be done without compromising the safety of the building. A second is mechanical – utilizing a fan to bring in fresh air. This can be done in a standalone unit or as part of the HVAC system. One thing to note about bringing in outdoor air is if you are in an area with very poor air quality such as near forest fires or locations with large air pollution, adding a filtration system to the incoming air is an almost must.

Filtration: Having a system in place that removes contaminates in the air, capturing them in a filter. All HVAC systems will have some type of filter with them. Filters are measured by what they can remove from the air. Filters are typically identified with a MERV rating. A quick explanation of the MERV number is the higher it is, the more effective it will be in removing particles from the air. Filtration is an extremely effective way to fight viruses as it removes them from the air. This goes back to our statement that if the virus is not there, it can’t infect you. We mentioned HVAC systems having filters but sometimes the system cannot handle higher MERV filters without compromising the effectiveness of the HVAC system. This is where portable air filters come into play. Generally room level air filters or air purifiers are very easy to add and in a lot of cases do not cost a lot of money. Utilizing something like the Lasko FF305 Air Flex is a quick and easy way to filter air in office spaces, classrooms or at home. There are additional technologies out there for improving indoor air quality but some of these have not be fully proven yet. You can read more about these in one of our earlier blog post.

Our goal is to give you the tools to create the best possible working, learning and living environments possible. If you have a good ventilation system with a source for air exchange (fresh air coming in) and are filtering the air within the space, you are well on your way. We encourage you to have open and productive conversations with your workplace, school board and so forth to find out what they are doing to ensure these items are taking place. So how is the air in your office or school?

For more information about Air King’s line of ventilation solutions including exhaust fans, range hoods and fresh air intake, utilize the menu links at the top of this page. Also check out our other posts about ventilation and indoor air quality.

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