While many people think of California as a state with moderate temperatures, due to its geography and size, it is no stranger to temperature extremes. From a record high temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley to a record low of -45 degrees in Boca, Californians can experience a wide range of temperatures.
For those working during the winter months in frigid parts of the state, workplace ventilation is an important engineering control to create comfortable, productive and safe work environments. Just last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an OSHA Alert on improving workplace ventilation during cold weather. In it, the agency shared its concern that indoor air quality (IAQ) in the workplace during this time of year is especially critical while influenza, cold and COVID-19 viruses are circulating.
Improving ventilation is a key engineering control that can be used to increase the delivery of clean air and remove or reduce the concentration of viral particles or other contaminants reports OSHA. Key steps to improve ventilation according to the agency include:
- Inspecting air intake and exhaust ports to ensure they are clean and free of ice or snow.
- Replacing filters as necessary to ensure the proper function of the HVAC system.
- Having an HVAC professional conduct all regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance.
- Adding portable air cleaners with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in spaces with high occupancy or limited ventilation.
OSHA also reports that maintaining a healthy HVAC system requires an HVAC professional to:
- Ensure all HVAC systems are operating in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and design specifications.
- Maximize the amount of outdoor air supplied consistent with the heating capacity of the HVAC system. Rebalance or adjust HVAC systems to increase total airflow to occupied spaces.
- Install air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) 13 (or equivalent) or higher where feasible. If MERV-13 filters are not compatible with the HVAC system, use filters with the highest compatible filtering efficiency for the HVAC system.
- Clean HVAC system drain pans, heating and cooling coils, and supply/return registers to eliminate areas where contaminants can settle.
“At LA Testing, our California laboratories are here to help businesses and institutions ensure they are delivering optimal indoor air quality for their employees and other building occupants,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager at LA Testing's Huntington Beach facility. “We offer a wide range of air quality and infection control testing services, sampling supplies, easy-to-use test kits and air monitoring instruments. These services and instruments can be used to identify everything from mold, bacteria and viruses, to carbon dioxide levels, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, lead, asbestos and more.”
LA Testing also recently sponsored and educational video sharing OSHA's recommendations for improving workplace ventilation during cold weather that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/i993m3vDKks
To learn more about this or other indoor environmental quality (IEQ), building science, health and safety services, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com or call (800) 755-1794. To obtain IEQ test kits, visit www.EMSLTestKits.com.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California's leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.
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