Controlling Microorganisms In Public Places

I read with interest Barb Checket-Hanks' article titled "Hospital HVAC and Pandemics" (in the Nov. 7 issue), in which Rick Hermans offers a number of very useful strategies for the control of the avian flu and other mass infections.

I would urge your readers to consider an additional control strategy not discussed in the article: the use of high-output UVC lights in the air handling systems - in general areas of the hospital as well as in isolation rooms.

As experienced by the Florida hospital system and many others, the UVC wavelength targets the DNA and RNA of microorganisms, causing cell death or making replication impossible. For example: In a hospital application with 15 to 20 air changes per hour, depending on the installation design, UVC energy will destroy more than 90 percent to 99 percent of airborne microbial contaminants with each pass.

In doing so, UVC reduces the number of microbes to a level significantly below what it would take to infect most people, greatly diminishing spread and infectivity. The germicidal effect is virtually immediate and continuous, as long as the lights are kept on 24 hours a day and the air-handler fans are running.

Furthermore, UVC works against all strains of influenza as well as other viruses, bacteria, and mold.

Now, if the same infection control strategy can just be applied to enough schools, offices, public buildings, and residences, we will see far fewer flu cases overloading the hospitals!

Robert Scheir, Ph.D.
Steril-Aire, Inc.
Burbank, Calif.

Industry Groups Working With Each Other

As usual, I enjoyed reading Mark Skaer's editorial in the Nov. 14 issue ofThe NEWS("It Would Be Nice to Have One Voice"), though I would point out that, in fact, significant movement toward the goal he suggests has been made already.

A few years ago, several associations with an interest in the HVACR industry came together to form the Council for Improving Life & The Environment, an umbrella organization where we discuss industry issues, legislative and regulatory concerns, and other areas of mutual concern.

In addition to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), participants in the Council include: Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC), Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), Air Movement & Control Association (AMCA), and Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI).

Ironically, given the content of Mark's editorial, the council held a conference call immediately following Hurricane Katrina, and have stayed in touch since, to keep each other apprised of our efforts in the reconstruction and recovery.

Thanks to the work of the council, our organizations have never been as communicative as we are now. Following years of apathy at best, and animosity at worst, our industries and associations routinely talk, meet, and coordinate our efforts on a variety of issues.

While I understand the appeal of "one voice for the industry," we should be honest and admit that there is really not one overall HVACR industry, but rather a host of industries all related by a certain type of product that we make, sell, distribute, design, or install.

We each have much in common, much to learn from each other, and much to accomplish for our various member sectors. We will not always agree on everything, but as the old saying goes, by working together, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Oh, and to the question Mark asked: "Having one certification voice would be better for this industry, yes?" There is only one technician certification program in HVACR; it's called NATE. This, if nothing else, seems to me a settled question.

Paul T. Stalknecht
President & CEO
Air Conditioning Contractors of America

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Publication date: 01/23/2006