The short answer is yes; HEPA air purifying systems can be tied into existing duct work relatively seamlessly in both homes and commercial properties, including office buildings. However, the size of the home and the size of the filtration system correlation matter.
Purified Air Depends on the Number of ‘Air Changes’ Per Hour (ACPH or ACH)
Another big consideration is – how many Air Changes per hour do you want in the building? The more changes per hour the purer the air. For example, a hospital patient room has approx 6 air changes per hour, whereas an operating room or surgery theatre has anywhere from 30-60 air changes per hour.
The more changes per hour, the better the filtration, however, the bigger the system requirements will likely be.
Air Change = a measurement of how many time the air within a room (space) is replace (generally per hour – standard measurement)
Hospitals typically use HEPA filters – as they were originally designed by the military.
HEPA filters are a specific type of filter, and are standardized to be required and tested to filter 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns and above.
This doesn’t mean smaller particles are ignored by the filter, many do get trapped, just not at the 99.97% level (some 0.2 or below may be trapped at the 99.95% level, but to be considered a HEPA filter are unable to advertise that fact). The more the air circulates through the system, the more particles and pathogens are trapped.
Are there different grades of HEPA Filters?
There are different sizes, but the grade of the filter is required to remain the same across all units. Hospitals and residences would receive the same quality of HEPA filter; just hospitals circulate the air far more frequently and have larger units.
Hospitals, research facilities and aerospace for example also add specialty features such as negative or positive pressure situations for clean rooms, burn wards etc, such that dust or particles are unable to enter a particular space. Various facilities use positive or negative pressure depending on how they require the air to flow. Also hospitals are required to take a particle counter test to ensure the filters are working up to proper industry standards (aka so that someone doesn’t come home with more than what they came in with ie: Norovirus).
However HEPA filters themselves need to be replaced typically every 3-5 years in a non-commercial environment, and again, depending on how many Air Changes per are needed. More air changes, the sooner the filter will need to be replaced, as well as the cleanliness level of the facility.
In addition, a HEPA system setup usually also has a carbon filter as well as a pre-filter. The carbon filter filters organic matter, and the pre-filter, filters out some of the much bigger particles, prior to reaching the HEPA filter, to help make the filter last longer.
The pre-filter in a non-commercial environment is usually replaced after one year as well as either servicing or replacing on the carbon filter as well in the same one year period; whereas the HEPA filter itself is usually 3-5 years – depending on the cleanliness of the house, or if there are other pollutants such as wood fireplace, pets, oil furnace, renovations and other considerations that would fill a filter faster.
The warranty on the HEPA system itself that Canaduct installs is generally 5 years with the manufacturer – with mainly made in Canada units.
HEPA for Allergies?
HEPA filters have generally performed outstandingly for those who suffer with allergies. We had a client tell us all his allergies disappeared by a few months after the HEPA filter was installed.
If one considers the wear and tear on the body that allergies can be with the immune system working overtime, all the time, imagine the ability to take that pressure off the system in order for it to be able to defend and use that energy to ideally repair other aspects.
HEPA filters are also used in flood/fire restoration as well as oncology wards, asbestos removal procedures and even filtering out exhaust fumes for truck loading bays, etc. Very straight forward, yet powerful technology.
HEPA for Mold, Mildew, Bacteria, Pathogens?
Yes, HEPAs can even filter out exhaust fumes in warehouse environments. Food preparation facilities use HEPA filtration systems to keep airborne pathogens and particles out of the food.
Below goes into more detail on the bacteria and pathogens etc with research from MIT and Harvard etc, however HEPA filters have been and are still used in flood and fire restoration companies for decades.
What if I Don’t Have Duct Work?
If you have a radiator or baseboard heating or are using a heat pump or wall mounted unit – single stand alone HEPA filtration units are usually the solution. One or more models depending on the size of the space can help purify the air. Again, with the calculation of how many times you would like the air changed per hour, will depend on the number of units needed.
Portable units for consideration are the Amaircare 2500 for 650 sq ft purification zone or the Amaircare 3000 stand alone unit which purifies up to 850 sq ft.
Portable units are great options for renters, condos, apartments or additional protection in a senior residence. Just simply call or use our contact form for an estimate 416-410-3777 canaduct.com.
What if I Do Have Duct Work?
A Whole House Air Filtration HEPA system for most applications can tie into the existing duct work whether it be residential or office space. For ducted homes around 1500 sq ft the pricing starts at about $1200 to about $3000 for larger homes. Each building is different, however and will be evaluated on its own merit.
If the building has a roof top unit for HVAC then the HEPA filters tie into each heating zone in the drop ceiling. There is a solution for every property; just contact the office with your building’s specifications 416-410-3777.
HEPA Filters History and Add’l Details:
HEPA filters have been used since the 1940s starting in military biomedical applications to prevent the spread of viral organisms, airborne bacteria and radioactive particulate.
CNN suggests in their anti-viral article “Look for a model with a HEPA filter, which is what most allergists and doctors recommend.”
HEPA filters down to 0.3 microns and is 99.97% effective with a fresh filter, and traps pathogens, bacteria, many viruses (98% according to MIT including flu), mould spores, dust, allergens, smoke and odours and more. HEPA filters were widely used in the previous SARS outbreak in Toronto, Ontario in 2003 in medical practitioners’ offices.
Since bacteria and viruses can be airborne, it’s almost impossible to keep from breathing in germs that are floating around in the air.
Air filtration is commonly used in both residential and small and large commercial applications such as office buildings, schools, large apartment buildings, medical and or public buildings.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most effective way to improve indoor air or remove or at least reduce the sources of pollutants inside the dwelling is to ventilate with clean outdoor air (see air exchangers article).
Next, EPA recommends is using a whole building filtration system where possible (over a portable unit) such as air purifiers and air sanitizers to improve indoor air quality.
Additional Air Purifying Options
Many Commercial and Residential spaces utilize dual systems in tandem, for greater efficacy adding UV technology in tandem with the HEPA system, depending on the application (such as medical building or daycare) as some viruses can be smaller than .3 microns. SARS for example was 0.1 microns. However, having said that, airborne viruses are generally attached to water molecules, which make the whole package much larger than .3 microns, and therefore could in theory be picked up by a HEPA filter, however there are no guarantees.
Germicidal UV technology oxidizes odours and vapours by removing them instead of trapping them and is effective on microscopic particles, bacteria and viruses as well as small as .001 microns. Not just the aforementioned, but also herbicides and atmospheric dust.
Air Exchangers too, are of great importance, buildings like humans need to breathe. An air exchanger brings in fresh air from outside and exhaust out the stale air from inside, as the Environmental Protection agency suggests above.
Humidity, Temperatures and Viruses
MIT also suggests that controlling temperature and humidity is a viable option for reduction of viruses – higher temperatures and humidity levels can kill or disable viruses. Not just MIT, University of Nebraska cites similar findings with wheat mite virus.
Dr Farhad Memarzadeh at National Institutes of Health has this to say in a review of more than 120 papers “The incidence of illness and infectivity of a virus that is transmitted by the airborne route in an indoor environment is the result of a host of factors…
…These include humidity, temperature, population density, number of susceptibles, length of exposure, number of infected people producing contaminated aerosols, ventilation rate, infectious particle settling rate, whether the virus has a lipid or non-lipid envelope, the presence of surrounding organic material, exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light or antiviral chemicals, microorganism resistance to antibiotic or antiviral therapy”,
The review also “showed that human influenza viruses could survive on a variety of surfaces at 35%–49% RH [relative humidity] and a temperature of 28°C (82.4°F).”
Harvard.edu states in their article The Reason Why Flu Strikes in Winter “we can conclude that, at least in regions that have a winter season, the influenzavirus survives longer in cold, dry air, so it has a greater chance of infecting another person”. ..
…“At 43°F with very low humidity, most of the virus was able to survive more than 23 hours, whereas at high humidity and a temperature of 90°F, survival was diminished at even one hour into incubation.”
And goes on to say “During the winter, people spend more time indoors with the windows sealed, so they are more likely to breathe the same air as someone who has the flu and thus contract the virus”
This is likely a factor in why seniors’ homes are really warm, more than the fact that the elderly are often cold, having the heat at 83%F helps keep the viruses away, especially due to the proximity of the residents. Washing hands for more than 20 seconds as well is recommended on MIT and other sites for viral prevention.
The Harvard Article by Hannah Foster PHD goes on to say “So, as the temperature and humidity keep dropping, your best bet for warding off this nasty bug is to get your flu shot ASAP, stay warm, and invest in a humidifier.”
Thus it may be a consideration to have the humidifier in one’s home checked, or installed as an add-on unit.
Heat Sterilization & HVAC Incinerators – Going the Extra Mile
One thing a virus, as noted above, cannot escape, is extreme heat.
“Generally, as temperature rises, virus survival decreases. Maintaining temperatures
above 60°C (140°F) for more than 60 min,” says Dr Memarzadeh.”
This is an add-on unit to the HVAC system. Air gets pulled through a chamber and microorganism are incinerated by the heat, in which no particles of any kind can survive. This more extreme method of air purification also burns up allergens, dust, mold spores, dander and pretty much everything else. The air is cooled before released back into the living/work space.
CNN as well as Most Medical sites suggest disinfecting surfaces with a product effective against viruses. Duct work has surfaces too, and the air in the home regenerates through the ventilation system many times per day.
Benefect is a 100% natural medical approved grade disinfectant that can be used as a treatment after duct cleaning. This will add extra protection to the air quality in residential or commercial property.
In the current crisis, Benefect’s ultra powerful DECON 30 is being used for optimal sanitization in Commercial, Industrial, Governmental, Attractions (Art Galleries, Theatres, etc for example), Office, Warehouse, Medical, Hotels, Seniors Facilities and Residential applications etc.
There are lots of options to choose from, which will work well to destroy germs, mold, pathogens, and allergens thus choose the one or a combination of systems that best suits your needs, space size and application (residential and commercial) as well as budget. Call for an estimate 416-410-3777.
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