Indoor air quality remote monitoring is poised to become an industry standard in the coming years. The conventional methods to monitor baseline IAQ involve being onsite to conduct a variety of tests. Typically, building scientists and industrial hygienists are called for testing when indoor air quality conditions degrade to the point of affecting building occupants. But what if a facility manager or industrial hygienist could view real time environmental data to respond more quickly to potential issues? Now you can with IAQ Guard!
IAQ Guard is a 24/7 indoor air quality remote monitoring program. It consists of a series of remote sensors that are placed throughout different zones in the building envelope. The sensors connect via the local WIFI network to a gateway node which in-turn connects to the building’s router for internet service. The gateway aggregates data from the sensors then uploads it to an easy to read IAQ Guard remote dashboard. A unique dashboard is created for each building signed up for the service program. Building Sciences team members, as well as facility staff can access the dashboard view IAQ stats.
“We are very excited to launch this first of its kind program.” says Alan Wozniak, President and CEO of Pure Air Control Services, “Preventative maintenance through indoor air quality remote monitoring can lead to huge cost savings. IAQ Guard allows us to quickly respond to situations that can very easily escalate if they are otherwise unknown.”
How the IAQ Guard program works
The technicians from Building Sciences will evaluate the building in need of monitoring to the ensure optimal number and placement of the sensors. Then all of the sensors, the gateway and corresponding connectivity is installed. Finally, the account and dashboard are setup so that the IAQ Guard indoor air quality remote monitoring can begin. Over time data is logged and trends begin to emerge that illustrate a baseline of the buildings use. For example, Carbon Dioxide will likely rise when the space is occupied and decline after work hours.
Once the baseline is established alerts can be setup to trigger should parameters become elevated over an extended period of time. This would then queue a response call from Pure Air Control Services to notify facility management about the concern. If it appears an issue is beginning to manifest a technician from Building Sciences will be dispatched to the site for a forensic investigation. A detailed report will be supplied outline the conditions and any recommendations for remediation.
What data does it monitor?
IAQ Guard uses an electrical outlet powered all-in-one remote sensor that monitors a variety of environmental conditions. The setup is turn key and the sensor provides full operational accuracy right out of the box. The basic IAQ Guard program logs real-time data for the following:
Temperature and relative humidity
Total volatile organic compounds (TVOC)
Particulate matter (PM1.0, PM2.5, PM10, and total number of counted particle sizes)
Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) and other gases
IAQ Guard can be setup for other specific assays for an additional cost. These can include Carbon Monoxide (CO), Formaldehyde (HCHO), Hydrogen Sulfide (H₂S), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂), Ozone (O₃) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO₂).
Since IAQ provides indoor air quality remote monitoring in real-time there are other beneficial uses for the program beyond preventative maintenance. IAQ Guard’s reporting and record keeping can help ensure compliance for organization programs like ASHRAE, LEED, OSHA, or WELL. It can track changes in building performance and send alerts for corrective action. IAQ Guard can also reduce project liability exposure for damage to sensitive critical infrastructure.
So much emphasis is being placed on both the energy and people costs in facility operations. IAQ Guard is the ideal program to supplement energy efficiency and occupant well-being initiatives. Real-time indoor air quality remote monitoring isn’t just the wave of the future, it’s here now with Pure Air Control Services IAQ Guard program.
Pure Air Control Services, Inc, a world renown Indoor Air Quality firm, earn a CERC certification for their exemplary work in the field by demonstrating a high level of commitment and professionalism to environmental risk management.
Certified Environmentally Responsible Contractor Criteria
The CERC program was initiated by Environmental Risk Professionals, LLC to endorse a contractor’s environmental due diligence and jobsite protocols. There are two categories that qualify a contractor for a CERC. They are Best Management Practices and Cleanup Protection.
Best Management Practices
Best management practices (BMPs) were introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent the release of toxic and hazardous pollutants to surface waters. Adhering to EPA guidelines and implementing BMPs through training and protocols is the main consideration for CERC. These BMPs put into practice on every job mitigate common environmental, health, and safety risks while promoting pollution prevention.
Cleanup protection simply verifies the contractor’s insurance relative to environmental accidents. It ensures that should an environmental accident occur the contractor has the ability to pay for cleanups and third-party damages.
Since 1984 Indoor Air Quality has been our #1 priority. As such, we have a vast knowledge of environmental contaminants and how to handle them. We take very seriously our commitment to procedural training and jobsite safety protocols.
-Alan Wozniak, President of Pure Air Control Services, Inc.
Why Seek Out A CERC?
CERCs such as Pure Air Control Services add an extra layer of compliance and confidence to the successful outcome of a project. The certification shows that the contractor has done their due diligence to provide risk management, skilled labor and insurance protection. Not only that, utilizing a CERC contributes to sustainable communities.
Pure Air Control Services provides indoor air/environmental quality testing, building envelope studies, HVAC hygiene/performance assessments, and laboratory analysis, as well as building remediation and HVAC restoration services. Their eco-friendly PURE-Steam HVAC coil cleaning service is the only Green Clean Institute Certified process of its kind.
The company’s staff includes certified indoor air quality professionals, certified indoor environmental consultants, licensed mold inspectors/remediators, National Air Duct Cleaners Association certified technicians, and Ventilation System Mold Remediation certified technicians.
A well-managed Indoor Air Quality plan can identify and reduce asthma triggers, while lowering facility operating costs.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that afflicts children. Attacks can be debilitating enough to affect student performance and attendance. While there is no cure for asthma, there are ways to medically treat the symptoms and there are recommendations to identify and reduce agents that act as asthma triggers.
A 2015 study on the association of cognitive function scores and the indoor environment published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that occupants exposed to less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had increased cognitive function performance.
“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”
And the performance of students too!
According the Florida Department of Education student absenteeism costs the state $228,557,676 per year. Florida schools can lose at least $1020 per chronically absent student. Asthma related absence certainly contributes to these numbers.
Developing a strategic IAQ plan to identify and reduce asthma triggers
Both the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend having a plan for improved IAQ and asthma/allergen trigger reduction. The first step in developing an IAQ plan is to identify and quantify the asthma triggers that are present in a facility. Recognizing that people with asthma might react to just one asthma trigger or sometimes multiple triggers.
Common Asthma Triggers Found in Schools • Mold • Pollen • Dust • Dust Mites • VOCs
Establish an Indoor Environmental Testing protocol to find and quantify the specific asthma triggers lurking in the facility. There are a variety of sample collection methods and tests that can be performed to establish a baseline and determine the condition of the indoor environment. Culture (Bioaerosol), Non-Culture (spore trap analysis), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) are often used for enumerating the allergens/triggers found. Enzyme Immunoassay (ELISA) of air or dust samples can also be utilized thought it can be costly, time consuming and allergen specific.
While most of the common asthma triggers are well known, VOCs deserve a closer look for better understanding. VOCs are basically organic chemicals. They are numerous and varied. VOCs can be both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. These pollutants can include (but are not limited to) tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building such as: office equipment, furniture, wall coverings, floor coverings and cleaning products, as well as gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Once the building and HVAC system has been tested, the data can then be used to recommend various methods to strategically remove/reduce any asthma triggers that were found. These methods can include Hygienic HVAC System/Ducts Cleaning, Mold Remediation, and hard products like Professional Air Purifiers, to name a few solutions.
Finally, repetition of these two steps, testing and remediation, on a regular basis is what really creates a proactive Indoor Air Quality management plan. The result is healthier and higher performing students, staff and buildings.
About Pure Air Control Services
Pure Air Controls is committed to excellence in all aspects of Indoor Air Quality.
Since 1984 they have endeavored to improve the health, comfort and energy efficiency of their clients’ buildings to the benefits of occupant well-being and the operational bottom line. The company’s fundamental purpose is to provide professional environmental consulting, engineering and evaluation through building diagnostic protocols, laboratory support services and building/HVAC system remediation services.
The company’s three specialized divisions include Building Sciences, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory, and Building Remediation Sciences. They offer precise building health assessments as well as innovative services for the hygienic cleaning/restoration of HVAC systems and indoor environments. Pure Air Control Services, Inc. can be utilized directly with their cooperative purchasing contracts through the Florida Buy Program and E&I.
For more information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Dr Rajiv Sahay or Alan Wozniak (800) 422-7873 ext 802 or 804.
Horry County Schools is putting new protocols regarding air quality in place before the start of the new school year.
For several months, St. James Elementary parents complained mold in the building caused their kids to develop chronic sickness and have spoken at multiple school board meetings about the issue.
Towards the end of the school year, two students tested positive for mold toxins. Test results from one of the parents show it’s the same mold type that was found in classrooms following air quality test earlier this year.
HCS said roof leaks and moisture after Hurricane Florence caused mold to develop in the building.
Replacing the roof started a couple of weeks ago and the district says it should be wrapped up in November.
“A lot of the roofing projects take longer than three months which is somewhat of our summer break so a lot of those projects carry into the school year.
“We will make sure that we work with school administrators on all these projects and have the least disruption not only to our students but to our staff as well,” said Lisa Bourcier, with Horry County Schools
Horry County Schools said when it comes to the issue of air quality they have come up with new district-wide initiatives this upcoming school year including implementing specific guidelines so administrators can report concerns.
The district said they have taken examples from Greenville County Schools to draft their own protocols.
“We have had a number of employees get certified in indoor air quality and we have established 15 IAQ teams that we have established throughout the school district to be able to go out to these facilities and investigate their concerns as well.”
The district says a lot of their protocols are adopted by OSHA, EPA, and CDC standards. They have also contracted an environmental consultant to give guidance to the district on an as-needed basis.
This past legislative session lawmakers passed a bill to create a committee to study the impacts of mold in public buildings including schools. News 13 has learned a committee has been appointed and they hope to have their first meeting before Labor Day.
It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that Indoor Air Quality is important in a hospital. Mold spores along with bacteria and other contaminants can contribute to deadly hospital acquired infections (HAI), also referred to as nosocomial infections. Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.7 million nosocomial infections occur each year, with nearly 100,000 associated deaths. Regular hospital duct cleaning should be part of every institutions infection control and indoor air quality plan.
A hospital’s air conveyance systems pushes up to 30 cubic feet per minute of air through its ducts. Given the sheer volume of air and need for the exchange of outside air in a healthcare environment, build up of contaminants in the duct system is inevitable. The collection of debris like human skin cells, hair, linen, and dust inside ducts present an available food source for bacteria to proliferate. That’s why extra care is required for hospital duct cleaning. The physical process to hygienically clean ductwork does not change in the hospital and healthcare environment. What does change, however, is the process for maintaining a safe environment for the patients and staff of the medical facility.
Communication and Compliance
The most important concern for the facilities engineering department at a hospital is to ensure that contaminants are not spread throughout the building envelope. To achieve this goal, joint preparation between the facility and Pure Air Control Services is vital to the success of a hospital duct cleaning project. Communication in conjunction with coordination between the facilities staff, nurses, environmental health and safety as well as other hospital stakeholders is of primary importance. For example, Pure Air Control Services and the facility staff review the hospital’s Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) together to determine whether those protocols apply to the project. If required, then additional steps will be taken to comply with the hospital’s specific ICRA policies.
Furthermore, Pure Air Control Services understands the importance of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). While JCAHO does not currently have a specific hospital duct cleaning standard, it does have standards for the occupied spaces that could be directly affected by the process of duct cleaning if an inexperienced HVAC contractor is used. To maintain compliance with JCAHO regulations, pre and post indoor environmental testing may be completed to verify the hygienic conditions of the ductwork and adjacent occupied spaces. Pure Air Control Services’ documentation during each project is highly detailed. The stakeholders at the facility are provided with thorough documentation and a report demonstrating proper safety measures were implemented during the hospital duct cleaning process.
Containment and Safety
The key piece of the puzzle for ensuring safety during hospital duct cleaning is establishing proper containment barriers under negative pressurization. Pure Air Control Services’ containment systems always utilize the highest standard of HEPA filtration. Mobile containment equipment, also known as “pop-up cubes” are typically used anytime a ceiling tile is accessed or work is conducted outside of the air conveyance system. In other scenarios, larger containment areas need to be constructed by Pure Air Control Services technicians. Containment is not just a concept that applies to the occupied space of the hospital environment. Containment is also occurring behind the ceiling within the hospital ductwork. The ductwork is placed under a negative 5 Pascal field to ensure the contaminants being agitated are pulled into the direction of the HEPA filtered air collection device. Sections of the hospital ductwork are sealed off. Then filter media is placed in all supply and return registers . Finally these registers are covered with duct mask to prevent cross contamination.
No disinfectants are used the hospital duct cleaning process, unless Pure Air Controls Services and facility staff communicate about the type of product requested, review its MSDS sheet and evaluate the its potential for VOC off gassing.
Little things make the biggest difference for hospital duct cleaning. Pure Air Controls Services’ IAQ/HVAC technicians are routinely trained on the important details for ensuring safety in the hospital environment. For instance, our technicians are trained to review their personal and exterior clothing and gear to ensure they are clean before stepping out of containment. Technicians are also trained to watch every single register in the section of ductwork to be certain no contaminants have escaped. In addition, our equipment and HEPA filters are routinely checked and upgraded as needed.
The Pure Air Control Services staff is also tested for pre-existing health concerns as part of the background process for working in a hospital.
Common Needs for the Cleaning of Ducts & Interstitial Spaces:
Preventive Maintenance for Optimal Environmental Conditions
Before & After Air Handler Upgrades, or HVAC Remodels
As part of a Remedial Cleanup from Water Damage or Fire
After and Environmental Concern or Infection/Disease Outbreak
Before and After PURE-Duct Cleaning
How often should a hospital have duct cleaning?
There is no specified ASHRAE/ASHI standard, nor any guidance from JCAHO for how often hospitals need to clean their ducts. In our experience, due to the nature of healthcare environments, hospitals should clean their ducts every three to five years. Pure Air Controls Services’ Building Sciences division can provide HVAC Hygiene Assessments that are done prior to PURE-Duct cleaning to understand the extent of the contamination of the ducts prior to commencing the hospital duct cleaning project. Building Sciences can also monitor the the duct cleaning project while in progress and conduct testing after the project is complete to demonstrate that good baseline was maintained and improved.
Hospitals are in a state of constant operations compared to other commercial and institutional facilities that are only occupied during daytime hours. They are occupied 24/7. The sole purpose of cleaning the ducts and entire HVAC system is to optimize indoor air quality. That’s why complying with strict protocols, being vigilant with containment, and testing the environmental conditions throughout the process are necessary extra steps to protect the well being of occupants during hospital duct cleaning.
For more information on Building Sciences environmental testing or PURE-Duct cleaning for hospitals please contact the IAQ experts at 1-800-422-7983.
Outdoor air pollution has been widely studied and regulated for decades, but the quality of indoor air and its potential risks were little unrecognised until the early 2000s. Yet in temperate climates we can spend up to 90% of our time in closed environments (houses, schools, offices, transportation, etc.), where we may be exposed to numerous pollutants. The question of indoor air quality has therefore become a major public health concern across the globe.
Outdoor and indoor air is considered polluted when a chemical, physical or biological agent changes the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide are some of the most hazardous pollutants. Apart from pollutants entering from outdoor air, the potential sources of pollution inside buildings are manifold: fuel-burning appliances, construction materials, housekeeping products, paint, tobacco, dust mites and more.
High health and socioeconomic costs
Air pollution is one of the main environmental risks worldwide and the fourth biggest risk factor for mortality globally. It not only provokes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancer, allergies and asthma, but is also indirectly linked to productivity loss (affecting comfort, workplace well-being, etc.).
Indoor air can far more polluted than outdoor air and was responsible for 3.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016. According to evaluations in France, indoor air quality is poor in 60% of homes, and 34% of tertiary premises—that is, one out of two offices, and three out of five classrooms—that are not equipped with an air ventilation or treatment systems. This has significant consequences for society, which must shoulder a cost of around 19 billion euros linked to premature deaths, health care expenses, productivity loss, etc. Children are among the most vulnerable, taking around 40 breaths per minute on average (as opposed to 16 in adults), meaning the quality of air in closed spaces for young people is a priority.
A study conducted by Elabe for Veolia Group on air pollution was published on World Environment Day, June 5. It surveyed thousands of citizens in France, Belgium, and Shanghai. The idea was to evaluate the general public’s level of awareness on the issue of indoor air pollution. Here is a look at the main lessons from the survey.