Blog

HVAC Systems with David Tomsey

With over eighteen years of experience in environmental, health, and safety consulting, David runs Emilcott’s Indoor Environmental Quality practice. He was one of the original leaders who developed our proprietary Greenlight system for real-time air monitoring on construction sites. His experience includes performing hazardous materials surveys, perimeter air monitoring system development and implementation, remedial investigations; performing soil and water investigations, and survey design.

What is an HVAC system? How does it work?

An HVAC system cleans air through a series of filters. This means it basically circulates air through a building to provide comfort to all occupants. Comfort can be thermal (through heat) as well as through cool air. Simply put, it is an air exchange system regulating temperature and contaminants that can be found in the air of an indoor space.

HVAC systems remove moisture all year-round, but they are especially important during the summer months. Without an HVAC system, excessive moisture creates an environment for mold growth.

What is the importance of a clean HVAC system?

As people return to work, it is important to do a deep cleaning of buildings’ HVAC systems, especially those turned off during the past few months.

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, also known as MERV, is a measurement scale used for tracking the effectiveness of air filters. Typically, it has been recommended that a building’s MERV number is an 8 or 9. But since the emergence of the coronavirus, the recommended MERV number is now 13 to prevent viruses from forming in the air space.

A lot of buildings will shut their systems down overnight but typically not when temperatures are high outside. It is now recommended that all places keep their HVAC Systems running 24/7 for a greater air exchange rate. Usually, the system is responsible for just filtering indoor air. In today’s world, it is wise to bring in the outdoor air and kill the virus with heat and sunlight.

What issues arise when HVAC systems are not taken care of?

When HVAC systems are not cleaned and used properly, there is a greater chance that indoor aerosols are lingering for a longer amount of time.

Dirt and debris (when not eliminated from the air) harbor environments for bacteria and viruses. A well-functioning system reduces airborne concentrations of viruses.

A properly operated system helps individuals fight colds, flus, and viruses. With the correct amount of humidity in the air, the human body is operating in optimal circumstances. Otherwise, our bodies have to work a lot harder to keep us healthy.

How do you know when you need help?

Buildings that need this type of service include office and retail spaces, healthcare facilities, hospitals, and hotels, among other types of public places. When someone comes to help you with this issue, they should test for general indoor parameters, particulates, dust, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs.) They will also want to ensure there are no issues with odors or allergic reactions as systems are put to use. This type of testing gives clients an understanding of the state of their indoor space.

Emilcott works with other people in order to evaluate the HVAC system at hand. If it is found that people are having issues with odors or allergic reactions, Emilcott can come and investigate.

If you have questions about your HVAC system or any Emilcott services, call us at 800-866-3645 or email us at info@emilcott.com.


How to Recognize Heat Illnesses

As the summer progresses, employers need to remember how dangerous hot and humid temperatures can be. Working outside in 90-degree weather without proper protection can cause discomfort, heat stress, or even deadly heatstroke.

Symptoms of heat stress range widely:

  • Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. In high humidity, the sweat does not evaporate quickly from your skin’s surface. The clothing rubs will rub against the wet skin, causing irritation that can result in a rash.
  • Heat cramps are involuntary muscle spasms within the large muscles of your body. These typically occur in the thigh, core, and arm muscles.
  • Heat syncope is a fainting or dizziness episode that can occur due to dehydration or lack of acclimation.
  • Heat exhaustion is the body’s response t loss of water and salt, usually due to excessive sweating. Symptoms include heavy sweating; extreme weakness or fatigue; dizziness; clammy, moist skin; muscle cramps; elevated temperature, and fast, shallow breathing.
  • Heatstroke is a medical emergency. As the body temperature rises, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body cannot cool down and control its temperature. Beware! This severe reaction can happen quickly – the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees within ten to fifteen minutes! Without emergency treatment, heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability. Symptoms of heatstroke include hot, dry skin; profuse sweating; hallucinations; throbbing headache; high body temperature; confusion or dizziness; and slurred speech.

If you notice that you’re starting to experience any of these symptoms, the first thing you need to do is take a break. Move to a cool, shaded area and drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids. If it’s possible, take a cool shower or dip an article of clothing in cold water and place it on your body. If you are suffering from heat rash, DO NOT apply wet clothing. Instead, dry off and remain in a cool area until the sweating ceases. Resume work only after your body has cooled to a normal temperature.

Employers need to keep a close eye on workers – especially in the heat. When employees are subjected to conditions that could induce heat stress, employers need a successful heat stress program in place. OSHA has many resources to help create and develop heat illness prevention plans, but an Emilcott favorite is the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety App.

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety App is a great resource to help employers and employees plan outdoor activities based on the heat. It can be downloaded onto any smart device and features:
• Area-specific heat indexes and associated risk levels
• Precautionary recommendations
• Hourly forecasts
• And more!

Emilcott’s team of professionals includes skilled Health and Safety Officers with experience in construction and hazardous waste sites. If you would like your current program evaluated or need help preparing your workforce for possible heat hazards, please reach out to info@emilcott.com or call us at 973-538-1110.


2021 Q3 Regulatory Calendar

Keep track of upcoming regulatory requirements with Emilcott’s Regulatory Calendar for Q3 2021. This document includes essential details for each submission and a list of dates you need to know.

If Emilcott can offer further assistance with your compliance efforts, please email info@emilcott.com or call 973-538-1110.

**To better access the links, download the PDF.

 

Q3 Regulatory Calendar 2021