To provide healthy ventilation, your building must meet science-based standards for IAQ or you are not doing enough to guard against viral transmission. Per a recent article in Buildings magazine by Dan Diehl, there are four standards/parameters that most impact IAQ measurements and they should be measured, managed, and reported.
- Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs)
- Relative Humidity (RH)
- Airborne Particulates
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs)
Sanitization and other enhanced cleaning protocols are a must to facilitate tenants’ safe return, however, increased cleaning also means increased use of chemicals that often dramatically increase the amount of TVOCs in the air. Review TVOC data and ensure it is in an acceptable range. A sensor system is the right tool for this—especially one that identifies any increase in TVOCs from cleaning and sends a signal for more outside air until TVOD levels drop again.
Relative Humidity (RH)
When RH is lowered to the 0-40%, respiratory immune defenses are impaired. At these RH levels, airborne droplets containing viruses evaporate and lighten, allowing the droplets to float longer and survive longer. Due to these issues, your building should work to provide higher relative humidity levels, ideally in the range of 40-60% RH- especially in low humidity/peak viral season.
COVID-19, like other viruses, spreads by attaching itself to particles. In the indoor environment, this is especially dangerous and must be minimized. It’s not enough that your building has recently upgraded its filters; the ability to quantify the impact is also imperative. Filter efficiency is generally lowest between 0.1-0.5 um, which is the most dangerous for coronavirus transmission. Therefore, both small particles and those between 0.5-2.5 should be measured. Using the right data, your building can determine the “effective filtration rate” and whether the healthy small particle levels are being controlled.
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
You must verify that your building is bringing in enough dilution air and that it has a reliable system to sense the amount of CO2 in the space and bring in more air when needed. The building should also use a high-quality analytics platform to look at CO2 levels of the outside air, supply air and room air. By comparing these readings to science-based air quality standards, you’ll know if the building has adequate ventilation to control CO2 levels.
The Right Information on IAQ
The only truly reliable way to ensure optimal IAQ is by getting the most up-to-date and accurate measurements on each of the parameters referenced above. Accuracy is derived from the system’s architecture and sensors that are calibrated on a regular basis to prevent drift.
There are science-based building standards for each of the parameters, so it’s not just a stab in the dark or a guess. Every building owner/manager should be meeting actual IAQ numbers to provide healthy ventilation that protects against viral transmission.