Governor Andrew Cuomo Makes Airborne Virus Mandate
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated that indoor spaces in New York have Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) 13 air filters. Air filters do help capture airborne contaminants including airborne viruses and are an important step in combatting COVID-19.
Unfortunately, this adds another challenge for retailers and facility directors to navigate during the pandemic. Air filters are not one-size-fits-all. Since they are engineered to capture airborne viruses, incorrectly sized air filters can cause a pressure drop. This can cause the HVAC system to malfunction and even become inoperable, leading to costly repairs and shutdowns. That is problematic in normal business climates let alone during a pandemic where revenues have dovetailed.
Prior to installing air filters, please discuss the best options for your ductwork with a contractor. This will help to mitigate pressure drops within your system.
MERV Air Filters to Capture Airborne Contaminants
Higher-rated MERV filters are more efficient and more costly and should be replaced every 6 months to help maintain efficiency. The size of the building will determine the number of required air filters and the change-out rate, which will factor into the cost. Use a Healthy Air Professional to help you determine the right system for your building.
Health experts recently recognized coronavirus as an airborne virus putting an increased emphasis on air filtration components including masks. This runs counter to the idea that the disease spread through contaminated surfaces. This decreases the emphasis on cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
Masks and air filters help capture impurities to limit the concentration of contaminated airborne droplets in the air. Limiting exposure and diluting the concentration of contaminated air droplets helps lower the risk of being infected with COVID-19. Experts are still determining the infectious dose for coronavirus.
Using Ventilation to Curb Airborne Contaminants
HVAC Experts, including the American Society of Refrigeration, Heating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, have concluded that ventilation is a crucial component in reducing the proliferation of airborne viruses like COVID-19. Ventilation helps bring in fresh air to help dilute airborne viruses. Restaurants have utilized the natural ventilation of the outdoors to expand the business beyond takeout. Unfortunately, outdoor dining is not available for every restaurant and is weather-dependent.
Supply ventilation, unlike natural ventilation, is not weather-dependent. It brings in fresh air to replace the indoor air. Unlike natural ventilation, the outdoor air passes through a filter to remove impurities. Our ventilation solutions can also be controlled to work as needed. And to be extremely energy-efficient, they bring in outside air only when weather conditions are most favorable, such as when temperature and humidity levels are less extreme. Some models also dehumidify overly humid outside air. Supply-side ventilation is also a great solution for those buildings that do not have access to natural ventilation like skyscrapers or other buildings near pollution sources.
Finding products to help reduce the concentration of airborne droplets like masks, air filters, and ventilators help reduce the proliferation of airborne viruses. Increasing a building’s indoor air quality extends beyond the scope of the pandemic. Increasing IAQ is a long-term solution that helps employees and customers feel better so it is important to make sure you have the correct filters and ventilation system for the life of your business.
Businesses Cleaning Regimens Do Little Against Airborne Viruses
Many cities, restaurants, schools, and transportation systems have touted their cleaning regimen instead of the health of their indoor air quality.
It is unlikely that coronavirus spreads through contaminated surfaces. Although this scrubbing may deter the spread and proliferation of other diseases, it does little to flatten the curve of COVID-19.
Some people may think that cleaning surfaces is the best route since so many restaurants and retailers are touting their clean surfaces rather than their clean air. Thus, not mandating masks, maintaining social distancing, or worrying about airborne transmission.
Science is a long-term approach and conducting it in real-time can obfuscate the solution for the public. Scientists are just beginning to zero in on a message of airborne transmission. A series of mixed messages can leave people feeling overburdened and anxious.
The Hysteria of Hygiene Theater
One Atlantic writer coined the over-cleaning hysterics, as ‘Hygiene Theater’, comparing it to the security conducted in airports post-9/11 comprised of pat-downs and shoe removals. It has been nearly 20 years since 9/11 occurred, and this still happens. Traumatic events change behaviors and it seems unlikely that this over-cleaning will exit when the pandemic does.
Any spaces where people cram together for extended periods where they will be talking, crying, singing, or laughing loudly should not reopen until the pandemic is completely under control. It is just too easy to spread the disease due to asymptomatic superspreaders. These industries may require government bailouts. Although using the natural ventilation of the outdoors may provide a lifeboat…
Navigating a pandemic is not easy, but it requires a collective effort backed by science. Other countries have focused their efforts on wearing masks, socially distancing, and indoor air quality. These countries are beginning to reopen.
Indoor Air Quality Focus Is Good First Step
Gov. Cuomo’s decision to focus on indoor air quality is a big step toward improving indoor air quality now and in the future. There may not be a one size fits all solution. Just as different HVAC systems have different requirements, different businesses will have different solutions. To make sure your business or school is ready to reopen, contact a Healthy Air Professional to make sure you have a Healthy Air solution.