Worldwide the most common diseases are conditions of the lungs. In the US the number of people suffering from some sort of lung disease reaches into the tens of millions. Over 250,000 people die each year as a direct result of impaired lung function.
While smoking is a primary risk factor for lung impaired people, there are other risk factors including exposure to air pollution and occupational dusts and chemicals. Occupational exposure to certain industrial pollutants was estimated to increase the risk of lung disease by as much as 31.1% even among those that had never smoked.
So, let’s take some steps to help these folks by reducing the chance of exposure to indoor air pollution.
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The original intent of air filters (and still the major function) is to protect the equipment from dirt and dust. If you’ll notice the air filter is always placed before the fan motor and evaporator coil in side the air conditioning system. This protects the air cooled fan motor and the coil from collecting dust and dirt.
The secondary purpose for air filters is to help keep the air in the system clean and it flows through the building.
It is only in recent years people have started to see the secondary purpose exceed the primary. Employee productivity, lost time absenteeism and turnover have all proven to be far more expensive than replacing a fan motor.
First step is to make sure the filters in your air conditioning system(s) are the right size. I have seen gaps between filters you could put your finger through. That means most of the dirt and dust completely bypasses the filter media and slips right through those gaps and into your office space.
Next make sure the filters are installed correctly. Most of the higher efficiency filters have a directional air flow. Putting these in the “wrong direction” makes them ineffective.
Lastly make sure they get changed regularly. As funny as it sounds the dirtier a filter gets the more efficient it gets. Air flow is very important to a well running system, so there is a balance to make sure the filters are changed “on time”. If left unchanged too long the dust and dirt will over load the filter and can even bend the cardboard frame in order to get enough air flow. If changed too frequently it is just a waste of money.
Balanced Air Distribution
Your building should have a slightly positive air pressure. Meaning air should flow out of the building when a door or window is opened. You can test the pressure of your building a couple ways. Go to an outside door and open it just a crack. If you feel air rushing into your building you have a negative pressure. If you feel air rushing you have a positive pressure. Many buildings have a negative pressure which means when an outside door or window is open unfiltered, untreated air flows into the building.
In the case of a negative pressure, the building literally becomes a giant vacuum cleaner sucking dust, dirt and hot humid air from outside to the inside. Why is this a problem? The air is unconditioned. It is not filtered or temperature adjusted. With the air being sucked into your building it pulls in humidity, dust and dirt.
Cleaning Air Conditioning System(s)
Over time dirt has a way of creeping in no matter how hard you try to keep it out. Small cracks in duct work seals, glue failing on duct tape or some of the dirt that makes it through the filters. It becomes important for you to have the system cleaned from one end to the other about once every 5 years.