Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new building ventilation guidance that emphasizes the importance of adequate airflow and upgraded air filtration systems in reducing the transmission of airborne pathogens. The guidance highlights the target of achieving at least 5 air changes per hour (ACH) and utilizing enhanced filters to improve indoor air quality. This development has significant implications for building owners, managers, and individuals concerned about their health and well-being. In this blog post, we will explore the key takeaways from the CDC's new guidance and its importance in creating healthier indoor environments.
The Importance of Ventilation and Filtration
The Importance of Ventilation and Filtration:
Proper ventilation and filtration play a crucial role in reducing the concentration of airborne contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, and other pollutants. The CDC's guidance underscores the need to increase the rate of air exchange in indoor spaces, aiming for a minimum of 5 ACH. This means that the volume of air within a space should be completely exchanged five times per hour, effectively diluting and removing potential pathogens.
Furthermore, the CDC recommends upgrading air filtration systems to MERV 13 filters or higher, as they are more effective in capturing smaller particles. Upgraded filters can help trap a greater number of airborne particles, including respiratory droplets that may contain viruses, thus reducing the risk of transmission.
Benefits of the CDC's Guidance
Adopting the CDC's building ventilation guidance offers several benefits. First and foremost, it can help minimize the spread of airborne diseases, including respiratory infections like COVID-19, influenza, and others. Improved ventilation and filtration systems can effectively reduce the concentration of viral particles in enclosed spaces, providing a safer environment for occupants.
Implementation Challenges and Considerations
Moreover, implementing the recommended guidelines can enhance overall indoor air quality, benefiting the health and well-being of building occupants. Good indoor air quality has been linked to improved cognitive function, productivity, and overall comfort. By prioritizing ventilation and filtration, building owners and managers demonstrate a commitment to occupant health and create spaces conducive to optimal performance.
Implementation Challenges and Considerations: While the CDC's guidance provides a valuable framework for improving indoor air quality, it is important to acknowledge that implementation challenges may arise. Upgrading ventilation systems and filters may require financial investment and technical expertise. Building owners and managers should carefully evaluate their existing systems and consult with HVAC professionals to identify the most suitable solutions for their specific circumstances.
Additionally, balancing increased ventilation rates with energy efficiency is a crucial consideration. It is important to strike a balance that ensures adequate air exchange without causing excessive energy consumption or compromising thermal comfort.
The CDC's new building ventilation guidance, which emphasizes achieving 5 ACH and implementing upgraded air filters, is a significant step toward creating healthier indoor environments. By prioritizing ventilation and filtration, building owners and managers can mitigate the spread of airborne pathogens and improve overall indoor air quality. As we continue to navigate the challenges of respiratory infections, adopting these guidelines is crucial in safeguarding the health and well-being of occupants and creating spaces that support optimal performance and comfort.
CDC's New Building Ventilation Guidance Calls for 5 ACH, Upgraded Filters.
Why Homeowners Should Do an Asbestos Sampling Before Renovations
As a homeowner, you may be eager to start your next home renovation project. However, before you pick up that sledgehammer, it's important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of asbestos. Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause serious health problems when its fibers are released into the air.
Asbestos was commonly used in construction materials prior to the 1980s, so if your home was built before then, it's possible that asbestos could be present. Asbestos can be found in insulation, ceiling tiles, flooring, and other building materials. When these materials are disturbed, such as during renovations, the asbestos fibers can become airborne and pose a risk to your health.
The health risks associated with asbestos exposure include lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. These conditions can take years to develop and often have no early warning signs. Asbestos exposure is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
To protect yourself and your family, it's important to have an asbestos sampling done before starting any renovation project. An asbestos sampling involves taking samples of the building materials in your home and testing them for the presence of asbestos. If asbestos is found, you'll need to hire a professional asbestos abatement contractor to safely remove the materials before you can begin your renovation.
It's important to note that asbestos should never be removed by homeowners themselves. Asbestos abatement is a highly specialized process that requires proper training, equipment, and procedures to ensure the safe removal and disposal of the hazardous materials. Attempting to remove asbestos on your own can result in serious health risks and even legal penalties.
In summary, before starting any home renovation project, it's crucial to have an asbestos sampling done by a professional. This will help ensure that your renovation is done safely and that you and your family are not exposed to the dangers of asbestos. Protecting your health should always be a top priority, and taking the necessary steps to identify and remove asbestos is an important part of that.
How can asbestos be identified in your home?
In summary, it's important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of asbestos during home renovations. By having an asbestos sampling done by a professional before starting your renovation project, you can ensure that your home is safe and free from asbestos.
If you're concerned about asbestos in your home, contact a professional asbestos abatement contractor like WHS to schedule an inspection. They can provide you with more information about asbestos and help you determine if an asbestos sampling is necessary. Remember, the health and safety of you and your family should always come first.
Call WHS today to schedule an inspection and ensure the safety of your home during renovations.
WHS Asbestos Risk Matrix
WHS Asbestos Exposure Risk Assessment
WHS uses a risk matrix provided below to evaluate the potential exposure to asbestos and determined that the overall risk level was low to moderate. This is a generic risk matrix which can be used with wipe samples, and/or bulk sampling results and incorporates the requirements of BC and Alberta, which have slightly different definitions of Low, Moderate and High-Risk Work.
Conditions for each criteria identified above, and the estimated worker exposure during demolition activities with no additional cleaning or controls implemented to reduce the release of dust and debris and based on details provided in image below.
Conditions for each criteria identified above, and the estimated worker exposure during demolition activities with no additional cleaning or controls implemented to reduce the release of dust and debris and based on details provided in table above.
Green – Minimal Risk/ Background Levels.
Asbestos was historically used as a friction material in brake linings, disc brake pads and clutch facings in vehicles because of its unique fire resistance and wear properties. With an increase in the awareness of the health risks associated with asbestos and introduction of specific occupational health and safety legislation to address these hazards in the early 1980s, the manufacturing of asbestos-containing friction materials, such as brake pads, in Canada ceased, as did the use of the asbestos-containing products generally.
Risk of Exposure
Asbestos is dangerous to work with and can cause occupational diseases, including respiratory problems, mesothelioma and lung cancer. For many years asbestos has been recognized as a health hazard for workers performing work in asbestos mining, processing and installation of asbestos products. Several serious, debilitating diseases that often end in death have been linked to the inhalation of fine asbestos fibres. For each disease, there is a period of latency, from 10 to 40 or more years, between first exposure to asbestos and the appearance of the disease.
Auto brake mechanics are known to be especially at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Extrapolating the risk of mechanics developing asbestos related diseases, millwrights ad others trades people are at risk of having similar exposure to asbestos when refurbishing hydroelectric generators that previously used asbestos containing brake pads.
The brakes used need to stop 200MT rotors contained 10-25% chrysotile asbestos, and when applied to a spinning rotor created smoke and particulate that migrated throughout the generator.
As our hydro electric system ages, more maintenance and even refurbishment is required. Therefore more workers are now inadvertently being exposed to asbestos. One may say “brake pads haven’t been used in almost 30 years and the potential of asbestos being present is low” Since 2014, WHS has tested numerous generating units that previously used asbestos containing brake pads and the results have demonstrated that the stator coils and rotors are still contaminated with asbestos 30 years after the asbestos pad have been changed. Historically these areas and surfaces are rarely cleaned and the dust and debris accumulates over the years. On average we find asbestos surface dust concentrations in million of asbestos structures per square centimeter following
American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) method D6480-19: Standard Test Method for Wipe Sampling of Surfaces, Indirect Preparation, and Analysis for Asbestos Structure Number Surface Loading by Transmission Electron Microscopy
In Ontario, the Ministry of Labour has specific procedures for mechanical well working on vehicles with asbestos containing brakes. Employers are required to follow Type 1 or Low Risk procedures which are set out in section 14 of O. Reg. 278/05. These required measures and procedures include:
Western Health & Safety team of occupational hygienists have experience in the assessment of assessing generators.
Industrial hygiene or Occupational Hygiene in Canada, is the practice of identifying, evaluating, and controlling workplace hazards that can affect the health and safety of workers. It involves the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of chemical, physical, and biological hazards in the workplace.
Occupational hygiene professionals use scientific principles and engineering controls to identify and reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards such as toxic chemicals, noise, radiation, and other physical and biological agents that can cause illness or injury. They work to protect workers from acute and chronic health effects associated with exposure to these hazards by designing and implementing controls to mitigate or eliminate the risks.
Overall, the goal of industrial hygiene is to protect the health and safety of workers by preventing occupational illness and injury through the control and management of workplace hazards.
WHS offer Occupational hygiene services to assist our clients in processes aimed at protecting workers from potential health hazards in the workplace. These services may include assessments of exposure to hazardous substances, noise, temperature, and other physical and chemical agents that could pose a risk to workers' health and safety. Occupational hygiene services may also include the development of control measures to minimize exposure to these hazards, as well as training and education programs to raise awareness of the risks and to promote safe work practices. By providing occupational hygiene services, WHS helps its clients to ensure the health and safety of their employees and to maintain compliance with regulations.
When hiring an Occupational Hygienist make sure they are either a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH). A Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) is a person who has completed a college degree in environmental health, or science, has at least five years of relevant experience, and has successfully passed an examination with the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.
Although there are numerous consulting companies offering industrial hygiene of occupational hygiene services, they may not have the education and experience to meet the minimum requirements to become a CIH or ROH.