Indoor air quality standards can help industrial consumers develop their air filtration strategies
Commercial office buildings and retail spaces are often plagued with poor indoor air quality that is the result of outdoor air pollution, which requires effective air filtration devices to eliminate contaminants.
Part of the problem is that owners of these facilities often don’t understand how air quality is measured, and what makes air quality good or bad.
And without understanding the basics of indoor air quality, it is impossible to develop an air filtration strategy that meets the unique needs of a commercial establishment.
For example, a restaurant owner will have a different set of filtration needs than the owner of a bookstore, simply because a restaurant’s cooking processes release a higher amount of particulates and odors than would be typically found in a bookstore.
Defining Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is defined as the level of contaminants in a space that can adversely affect the health of people who are confined to that area for a prolonged period of time, or people who visit that space.
But in addition to the level of contaminants, odors and particulates in the air, indoor air quality also takes into account humidity, temperature, ventilation, mold and moisture.
In the U.S., the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for ensuring that employees work in safe environments, though they have not established legal standards for the quality of air at a workspace.
However, OSHA has issued guidelines such as moderate humidity, a comfortable temperature and access to constant fresh air from outside. Of course the fresh air is a factor only if it is clean air.
In addition, OSHA recommends that those in charge of the physical operations of a commercial facility establish a means of eliminating or controlling outside pollutants from contaminating indoor air.
Common Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
The level of indoor air quality inside a commercial space is often dependent on the type of activity or process that commonly occurs at that establishment.
However, many commercial facilities have common issues that can lower the air quality.
- Lack of adequate ventilation
- Lack of clean, fresh outside air
- Large amounts of bad outside air that is drawn indoors
- Outdated HVAC systems
- Moisture that leads to mold
- Indoor construction introducing contaminants
Furthermore, retail spaces such as dry cleaners, must often contend with the release of chemicals due to the solvents used to clean clothing and fabrics.
Effectiveness of Air Filtration Devices
Owners of businesses who seek to improve the quality of indoor air may find that improving ventilation and sealing out outdoor air may not be sufficient. In many cases, only a comprehensive filtration strategy can eliminate the particulates that have infiltrated a commercial space.
Air filtration systems range from small models that can fit on a table, to systems that are connected to the existing ductwork.
Commercial air filters are rated by what is known as a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV).
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) established this standard in 1968 as a means of testing air filters. Although the standard has undergone modifications, the main tenets have remained consistent.
A MERV rating chart typically includes factors such as particle size efficiency, arrestance – which is the percentage of lint, dirt and hair that an air filter removes – and a filter’s capacity to hold dust.
In addition, some industrial filters are known as High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, and fall into six categories: Type A, Type B, Type D, Type E and Type F.
Type A filters, also known as industrial grade filters are commonly used in hospitals. Type B filters are Nuclear Grade and used in nuclear reactor facilities.
Type C filters are used in clean rooms; Type D filters are used in drug manufacturing facilities; Type E filters are used in hazardous material facilities and Type F filters are used in semi-conductor facilities.
Camfil’s Air Filtration Legacy
For 50 years, Camfil has offered the most advanced air filtration products to industrial consumers throughout the world. Camfil’s driving principle is providing quality at an affordable price, and the company’s guiding principle is that clean air should be a human right, not one confined solely to those who live in developed nations. Camfil provides air filtration systems that can accommodate every commercial need, whether for a restaurant, a biochemical research facility or a dry cleaning business.
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