By Bryan Orr, HVACRschool.com —
As HVAC contractors, we are tasked with keeping staff and customers safe during the outbreak, and we are relied upon to provide some guidance to customers about how to protect themselves against the virus in the air.
For employers and employees looking to navigate the new FMLA / FFRCA legislation, we put together a document that covers the main points, and we included the federal poster on the topic HERE
At HVAC School, we’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening to people with a lot more knowledge on these topics than we had before writing this guide. Even after all the best research we can muster, it must be said we are not microbiologists, epidemiologists or industrial hygienists. Our understanding of this outbreak is ever-evolving, and we will update this guide as new information becomes available, but the best resource for general information regarding prevention and care is available at the CDC website.
Other important industry resources:
As with many things in our trade, it is helpful to gain a simple mental picture of how things work, even if it isn’t a perfect representation.
The virus isn’t “alive” in the way that fungus or bacteria is alive. It is a spiky sphere that contains genetic information (in the case of SARS-CoV-2 it is all RNA) that causes the host cells to “make” more of the virus.
When we ingest or inhale the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it attaches itself to our cells and “injects” that genetic information into our cells, causing them to create more of the virus to infect more cells with new spiky spheres. Some of these get expelled from our mouth and nose when we cough, sneeze, or talk, and some emissions make their way onto our hands when we touch things.
The key thing to get our heads around:
The virus spreads outside of us, but it only REPLICATES inside of us
We are the virus factories, our own cells make it based on the tiny plans planted in them. This matters, because if we think of viruses like bacteria or fungus that are living and grow, then we will come to incorrect conclusions.
Viruses have a fatty (lipid) coating that makes up the sphere, and the spikes that make it stick are little proteins.
When the fatty layer of protection is broken, the genetic information inside the virus can no longer get into your cells, rendering it non-infectious. In fact, when we say that something “kills” a virus that is what we are really saying, because it wasn’t alive to start with.
One big factor in infection is the immune function of the person who gets the virus. If someone has immunity, it means that their immune system has identified the virus as a risk due to current or previous experience, and the body sends antibodies to surround and neutralize the virus.
A vaccine is generally a weakened or deactivated version of a virus. Vaccines are injected into a person so their immune system can “learn” to fight the virus before an actual infection occurs.
As professionals that interface with consumer health, it must be our mission to help provide an indoor atmosphere that promotes immune function, as well as protects against contaminants.
This means we must seek not only to neutralize viruses, but look to contribute to all the factors that can create and maintain a healthier indoor environment. This includes:
- Good air ventilation and circulation to reduce airborne chemicals (VOCs) and CO2
- Humidity control
- Temperature control
- Air filtration
- Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and testing to keep it as close to zero as we can
- Control over duct and building envelope leakage to keep control over indoor air factors and quality
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