Pretty soon it’s going to be summer, and Air Conditioning might feel like your best friend again. But, as more and more people are starting to realize, air conditioning can be a double edge sword delivering thousands of harmful microbes along with your refreshing cool air.
The Chemical and Environmental Engineering Faculty at Yale University have started to investigate where in your air conditioner these microbes come from, and how they could make you, or your employees sick.
A news article from the Yale Engineering Faculty website titled “Air Conditioning: Bringing You Relief… And Microbes” explains how your Indoor Air Quality could be compromised.
According to Yale, “The presence of an air conditioning system in office buildings has been associated with a 30% to 200% increase in respiratory and other health issues, compared to naturally ventilated offices.” Reported symptoms are most often minor ones, such as a tight chest or dry cough, but exposure to contaminated air conditioners has also been linked to Legionnaire’s disease.
But where are these microbes coming from?
Studies have identified that the coils within an Air Conditioner are in fact fantastic places for microbes to develop. As Yale points out though we still have a lot to learn about the microbiology of HVAC systems.
The Sloan Foundation has provided a grant enabling the lab of Prof. Jordan Peccia of the Yale Chemical & Environmental Engineering to take a good look into the inner workings of air conditioning units and determine the kinds of bacteria and fungi that thrive within.
“We’re going to dig through the coils of these big systems to determine what grows there – what kind of fungi, what kind of bacteria are growing on these coils.” Peccia says, “When you think about it, air conditioning coils are wet, cold places. Wherever water exists in a building, we usually find bacterial and fungal growth. There’s stuff in there and that may become distributed throughout the building.”
“The cold, alternating wet and dry conditions in AC units form a unique environment, and likely promote the growth of a narrow range of microbes,” he said. “Once we identify these unique microbes, we’re going to start looking for them in settled dust and air samples throughout the building to try to see how much air conditioning really influences the microbial exposure in a building.”
Until this work is completed and we develop new systems to protect people from these harmful microbes, Comfort First Products have a variety of solutions to protect you employees from harmful bacteria and other microbes. Our flagship product, the Comfort First Filtered Diffuser, with MERV12 filters installed, filters particles down to 1.0-3.0 microns, protecting you from Legionella disease transport. If you are looking for further filtration, such as that being required in more and more hospitals, you can go to a MERV14 filter and filter particles as small as Tobacco smoke. It’s for this and other reasons, leading laboratories and universities across the United States, including the Yale School of Medicine, have been buying filtration products from us for years.