HVAC UVGI | Air Purification

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    Michael Wengenroth

    In light of current circumstances, have any of you or your Diocese/Archdioceses looked at UVGI or other HVAC “air purification” systems for your central offices or other buildings?

    For those that have, did you choose to implement/not implement and were there any driving reasons behind the decision?

    Thank you in advance for any insight you can share. Feel free to email directly if preferred.

    Michael Wengenroth
    Office of Property & Construction
    The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh

    Jonathan Batista

    Hi Michael,

    I did speak with several local HVAC companies regarding the installation of UVGI and NPBI (Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization) and systems to our existing HVAC units. The common problem being articulated is that the air flow travels too fast for the UVGI or NPBI to be effective.

    Generally when many of the companies installing these items perform their own testing without third party verification it’s because testing has been performed in a controlled environment so they can get the results they want, rather than what you will see in an actual office building setting. The testing typically shows effectiveness after minutes of treatment, air through your duct system will pass over the device in seconds, if you placed it in a closed room where the air could be treated over and over with no door openings etc. the test data may be accurate, but in a real world setting it wouldn’t be accurate.

    Hopefully this helps you, but I would still do your own research and speak with a reputable HVAC company in your area that you’ve worked with in the past and trust to give you an honest answer and information regarding.

    Jonathan Batista
    Property & Insurance Manager
    Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas

    Ian Cull

    As an indoor air quality expert with nothing to sell, I would suggest first making sure that you are getting enough outdoor air ventilation before purchasing air purification equipment.

    A good rule of thumb is 15 cubic feet of outdoor air per minute per person. If the HVAC system doesn’t bring in outdoor air, then windows should be kept open in occupied rooms. Even opening windows just an inch can increase the air exchange in a room 300%!

    I don’t think centralized UV or ionization strategies will greatly reduce COVID risk because, to date, we don’t have documented evidence of the virus traveling through ductwork and get re-supplied in other parts of buildings and infecting people. The “airborne” transmission is within a poorly ventilated enclosed room.

    Ian Cull, PE, CIH
    Indoor Science
    Chicago, IL

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