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RE: Biological Hazards & Your Air Handling System

Dear Website Customer:

Recently there has been a lot of publicity and discussion regarding anthrax and other biological hazards. Our goal is to offer some useful facts and information in an effort to help our readers better understand how they can protect themselves, their families, and employees against biological hazards relating to their heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

FACT #1: The infectious range for anthrax has been estimated at 175-225 spores in a cubic foot of air. It's important to note here that in these recent cases, the most damaging effects involved people who came into direct contact with anthrax-laced mail. The anthrax spores themselves are quite light and, no doubt, the act of opening the mail itself caused them to become airborne and spread some contamination. Unfortunately, little can be done for the individual actually handling the mail. However, several measures can be taken to protect others from dangerous spores carried by the air handling and ventilation systems in our buildings and homes.

FACT #2: It is important to realize that contamination through the HVAC system is not a good way to kill people, but it is a great way to scare them. Air handling systems are one of the most effective ways of spreading any organism, and any ill-intentioned individual could readily release spores into the outside air intakes or return air duct of a building. In this unlikely event, one would expect the filtration system to catch most of the unwanted elements.

"OK," you may ask, "How can I be sure my family, employees, and I am being protected?

Much of the answer lies in proper maintenance and cleanliness of your system. Consider taking these simple, common sense steps:

  • CHECK FILTRATION SYSTEM - The filtration system is the first line of defense when unwanted elements attempt to enter the air system in a building. Change filters regularly! Overloaded, plugged filters separate from their housings, allowing unfiltered air to blow past. Upgrade to the highest efficiency filtration possible, making sure to consider that the proper airflow resistance for the mechanical system is not exceeded.

  • CHECK EVAPORATOR COILS - The evaporator coil and drain system are the second line of defense. Clean coils provide moist surfaces to catch unwanted elements, which then are washed down the drain along with the condensate water. In this manner the spores are not be able to germinate and spread contamination. One must ensure that the condensate pan is not holding excessive water for this to be effective.

When additional protection is required, many firms have installed accessories like In-duct Ultraviolet Lighting which can be quite effective in reducing the total number of contaminants. UV lights will kill anthrax and other viruses such as influenza. As you read this, many companies are working to design and install UV light systems to meet the public's needs. These systems have been in use in hospital environments for years, and are know to decrease the spread of airborn infectious elements.

Hopefully, this overview of biological hazards in the air handling system will be of help in guiding you to meet your company's needs. Please call me at 214.631.1010 or e-mail if you have any questions or would like additional information. I'd like to hear from you.



Ann R. Kahn


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