Keeping Air Pollution At Bay

Energy recovery ventilators, fitted to ACs could help keep indoor air pollution under check, notes Radha Prathi

Office spaces and homes would do well to have energy recovery ventilators and pollution meters fixed to their ACs. Photo: Modccon InteriorsMost of our cities are punctuated with yoga and pranayama schools where students are taught to breathe evenly and watch their breathing habits in order to overcome all their problems related to their health and general well-being.

Despite having learnt the art of breathing well, the urban citizen does not have a fair chance to exercise his knowledge on the subject for he lives in a positively polluted world.

The ever growing concrete buildings, traffic situations, industries and factories dotted all over the city are contributing generously to the poisonous content in the life giving air that we breathe. If at all man chooses to practice his newly learnt skill within the premises of his air conditioned home he cannot be assured of breathing pure air.

ACs, coolers do little

Today man has chosen to opt for air conditioning in his residence, office and public premises to beat the heat and lack of adequate ventilation. Though air conditioners and coolers do their job well and keep the temperatures at pleasant levels it is evident that that do little or nothing about free circulation of air. Invariably people who happen to spend most of their time in air conditioned premises breathe the stale air because circulation of fresh air is cut off almost entirely.

Research has revealed that breathing musty air can make man susceptible to a number of ailments like headaches, dizziness, eye and throat irritation, shortness of breath, nausea, drowsiness, fatigue and memory loss in the short term. Those who spend longer hours for several years in air conditioned premises can be affected by fatal diseases related to lungs and contract asthma and lung cancer. Random tests in various premises both domestic and public in the contemporary era have revealed that indoor air happens to be 40 per cent more polluted than outdoor air.

Presence of formaldehydes, radon, asbestos, volatile organic compounds, from solvents, paints, varnishes and carpets among other things contribute to the pollution which result in rampant proliferation of bacteria, viruses and fungus in the premises.

It is a matter of irony that  the man who chooses to keep outdoor pollutants like sulphur, nitrogen di oxide, carbon monoxide and high pollen counts traps himself indoors in air conditioned premises ensuring that he is insulated against outside air without realising that air inside conditioned space can be substantially more hazardous than outdoor air.

Indoor air quality vital

It is high time that man started paying attention to indoor air quality as most buildings are opting for air-conditioning due to several practical reasons.

Many buildings are spending huge sums of money in making their buildings friendly in terms of temperature, humidity and odour without paying attention to indoor air quality.

Findings reveal that there has been an increase of 15 per cent in terms of asthmatic ailments which is directly related to poor indoor air quality.

Buildings situated amidst vast amounts of greenery with good ventilation systems are certainly the answer to the problem. All the same one has to taken into consideration the practical difficulties of translating such ideas into action. We must accept the fact that air conditioning systems have come to stay but we can certainly do something about stepping up the indoor air quality system.

Pollution meter

DRI-Desiccant Rotors International Pvt.Ltd. a multinational company based in India has been working on this subject for almost a decade now and they have come up with palpable solutions to overcome this problem. The company has come up with a carbon di oxide sensor a machine which helps to calibrate the carbon di oxide and other pollutant levels in any given premises.

This instrument which looks like a wireless telephone sets the stage to make suitable corrections and improvements in the indoor environment at reasonable prices.

ACs fitted with energy recovery ventilator

The designers of this ‘pollution-meter” have looked into various aspects of the new standards and the increased awareness set by eco-friendly green buildings besides taking care of older buildings which have been fit with air conditioners. The instrument also helps them to gauge the ventilation load. After the preliminary step of gauging the quality of air an Energy  Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is fit as an additional component to the existing air conditioner in order to cleanse the air by accelerating the circulation of air at a reasonable pace and price.

The ERV is a common accessory to air conditioners across the world these days. The desiccant coated energy recovery wheel, which slowly rotates between its two sections to facilitate the conditioning of indoor air supply and the distribution of outdoor air from the atmosphere to indoors, has proved to be a boon to freshening indoor air.

Fitting ERVs to air conditioners is picking up in India. It has paved way to new industry by supplementing to the air conditioning needs of the people. The constant increase in closed or sealed areas with inadequate or no ventilation of any sort has prompted the need for this new venture.

The plush office complexes, BPOs, call centers, software complexes, malls and most residences will do well to invest in this accessory at the earliest.

The capital and operating cost of ERVs is a trifle on the higher side at the moment, but there is a very good chance of the prices plummeting down as entrepreneurs see the demand for the product and work on optimising the role of ERV besides cost effectiveness giving a breather to unwholesome breathing conditions.

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