- BY Troy Raska
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Cool Air Quality in The Heat of Summer
Indoor Air Quality during hot summer days is very important in buildings with man-made air conveyance systems. Mold, moisture and ozone are more of an issue during the summer months in comparison to the winter time. Hot temperatures with light breezes in and around buildings don’t permit settling of outdoor allergens. Many of these outdoor allergens have been observed easily penetrating indoor environments due to inadequate building practices or structural issues.
In the heat of summer, it is advisable to reside inside for comfortable and healthy living, especially for children, the elderly, those who are pregnant and people suffering from various ailments. On hot, sunny days, the sun is stronger emitting higher levels of ultraviolet radiation. The air also tends to move slower in comparison to other seasons. During this period, a number of spores from various sources are set free in the ambient air. The frequent use of air conditioning contributes to pollutant gases and other contaminants in and around the occupied space. The good news, however, is that one can conserve energy and create a healthy indoor living by following some small, but important steps.
Know the Pollutants
A few basic, environmental tests can ascertain the existing a-biological as well as biological pollutants. A-biological pollutants such as fiberglass, manmade fibers, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, ozone, radon, etc. are listed as common contaminants of indoor environments. Bacteria, mold, pollen grains, insects, plant trichomes and other house dust allergens are not uncommon to report as biological pollutants. Environmental sampling with IAQ technology and laboratory analysis is capable of identifying microbes and other particulates which may be linked to air quality issues of summer months.
Humidity during the warmer months increases. This higher humidity supports the growth of microorganisms commonly reported from the indoor environment. Dust mites are a common trigger for allergenic asthma and they may thrive well in hot and humid conditions as well as mold and other microbial allergen triggers. For controlling excess humidity, a dehumidifier system is useful.
Filtration is one of the important barriers to control pollutants and contaminants, especially in cases of energy tight buildings. During the summer, pets and other occupants shed dander in comparison to other months. Therefore, good filtration is crucial to controlling the allergens and pollutants that can circulate throughout a building. Considering a good MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rated filter (8 and above) is useful in controlling indoor allergens.
Optimization of Air Conditioning
During the summer, we tend to close building doors, windows and other openings intended for ventilation and switch to air conditioning for comfort. Prolific use of air conditioning may lead to several indoor air quality issues depending on the status of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system and other integrated systems such as duct work, filters and other components of air conveyance systems. It is highly encouraged to maintain and clean the HVAC system and integrated components to optimize the building for energy savings and improvements to indoor air quality.
Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab):
The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.
For more information on EDLab at Pure Air Services, Inc. please contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS, at (800) 422-7873 x 304.