Improving Air Quality in Commercial Buildings: Learn the Options – Sobieski Services | DE, NJ, PA, MD

Improving Air Quality in Commercial Buildings: Learn the Options

Office looking out to cityWhether you have a retail business, a professional office or an industrial or manufacturing facility, the quality of the air in your commercial building is an important consideration. Indoor air quality is widely recognized as commonly being twice to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Improving air quality in your commercial building will often require the installation of an air filtration system.

What’s in your indoor air?
Indoor air typically contains two types of pollutants:

  • Particulates are very small bits of solid material, liquid droplets or a combination of the two. This category of pollutants will include dust, fibers, pollen, mold, metal fragments, hair, dust mites, insect parts and microorganisms such as germs, viruses and bacteria.
  • Gaseous pollutants consist of fumes, odors and gases that can smell bad, be physically irritating or potentially harmful to health and life. Gases include paint and solvent fumes, exhaust gases, chemical odors, cooking odors and odors from cleaning supplies. Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous gaseous pollutants since it can’t be detected by human senses but can be deadly.

Air cleaners, purifiers and filtration systems
Air cleaners and filtration systems remove pollutants from your indoor air. In the most common configurations, the conditioned air flowing from your furnace, heat pump or air conditioner is diverted into the air cleaner, where it’s filtered or treated and then returned to the ductwork to continue on its normal path throughout your building. They are very effective at improving air quality.

Mechanical air cleaners
Mechanical air cleaning systems rely on filters to physically remove particulates and pollutants from your indoor air. As the air is forced through the filter, the contaminants are trapped and held within the filter medium. Filters in mechanical systems can get dirty quickly, so they should be checked at least once a month and changed or cleaned when they’re dirty.

The effectiveness of filters in mechanical air cleaning systems is indicated by the filter’s minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV number. This number indicates how efficiently the filter can trap and retain airborne particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size. MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, with higher numbers indicating better filtration. If you need filtration at even higher levels, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) systems provide filtration at MERV levels of 17 to 20. This type of mechanical filtration is usually reserved for environments where air quality is critical, such as medical facilities, food production plants or clean rooms housing electronics or sensitive equipment.

Electronic air cleaners
Electronic air cleaners generate an electrical charge that’s transferred to particulates in the air. This charge causes the particles to be attracted to collector plates inside the unit, to surfaces such as walls or furniture or to each other. When the particles stick to those surfaces, they’re removed from your indoor air.

Germicidal air cleaners
Germicidal air cleaners destroy microorganisms that can cause disease, aggravate existing conditions or cause damage to your facility and equipment. They use ultraviolet (UV) light to treat and disinfect the air flowing through them. When microorganisms such as bacteria, germs, viruses and mold are exposed to UV light, the powerful light either kills them outright or damages their DNA, making it impossible for them to reproduce. The microorganisms must be directly exposed to the UV light, but it usually takes only a few seconds for the light to do its work.

UV light also has applications in photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) air cleaners. In these systems, the UV light combines with a catalyst, removing gaseous pollutants and improving air quality.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on improving air quality in commercial buildings and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!

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