Hay Fever Season – Can Ventilation Help? It Depends
As hay fever season gains momentum this month, 1 in 5 adults across the UK will begin to suffer from itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion and general fatigue. Grass, tree and weed pollen travels through air currents and into environments such as homes and offices. Conventional wisdom suggests that hay fever sufferers should keep all windows shut throughout the season during peak pollen hours to keep the allergens out. But what about public spaces, shopping centres or workplaces? With all the benefits associated with maintaining a fresh air environment, it seems likely that restricting airflow from outside will affect indoor air quality. On the other hand, pollen is in itself an air contaminant. So how does this practice impact indoor air quality (IAQ)? More importantly, is there a better way?
Hay fever and ventilation: IAQ trade-off
Pollen is the most common allergen our bodies encounter during the warmer months. Each spring, summer, and even autumn, many plants release pollen into the wind. The size of a pollen grain can range from just a few microns to over 100μm. In fact, it is so tiny that you can fit 10,000 grains on the tip of a single pin. At such a small scale, it’s difficult to truly block the flow of pollen into indoor areas without resorting to keeping your windows closed most of the time. However, when you close the windows during peak pollen count times, there is a trade-off in terms of air quality. With open windows, pollen can get in, accumulate indoors and cause allergy symptoms in susceptible people. Conversely, with closed windows, other pollutants like dust, CO2 and skin shed from occupants, and fibres from soft furnishings can cause other health and productivity problems in the medium and longer term.
What can we do about it?
Instead of relying on windows for fresh airflow in offices and other high occupancy areas, we can use a combination of cleaning and air filtering. An air ventilation system using fabric ducting is ideal for this. The ducting won’t filter the air, but it will provide a much better air distribution than you would get by simply opening the windows. For example, you can use a ventilation unit with an F7 filter to keep pollen and other allergens from entering the room, then use our bespoke fabric ducting to distribute the air cleanly and pleasantly throughout the area.
Why fabric and not traditional metal ducting?
You might be wondering – if the ducting is there just to distribute the air and not to clean it, what difference does its material make? Why choose fabric ducts specifically? To make periodic cleaning easier and more convenient. Prihoda fabric ducts are very accessible, and their surface can be wiped clean in most circumstances. For deeper cleaning, the ducts can be quickly removed from their supports and washed at cool temperatures in a washing machine. This way, any allergens, particles and other pollutants in the room that may deposit on the ducts over time can be washed away quickly and effortlessly. By contrast, with metal ducting, it is common for the grilles to never be cleaned, allowing dust and dirt to gather on their surface and making allergy symptoms worse for occupants.
The benefits of using fabric ducting in combination with a filtering system are numerous. In offices, preventing hay fever symptoms in staff can lead to a happier and more productive workforce. In retail areas, customers are more likely to browse for longer and spend more money if they are in a comfortable and fresh environment. Needless to say, applications that already use filtered air by default, such as hospitals, can still benefit from using fabric ducting for air distribution, as every system is tailored to the location where it will be installed. As well as this, all our materials are cleanroom compatible and extremely easy to clean, making them perfect for any application with increased hygiene requirements.
Prihoda fabric ducting is a cost-effective and very efficient way to ensure occupant comfort in most, if not all, indoor environments. Why not talk to us to discuss your air distribution requirements?