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BESA warns on ventilation hygiene post lockdown

UK: Building managers must pay close attention to the cleanliness of their ventilation systems in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a group of industry experts.

Attendees to Wednesday’s Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) webinar were advised that as buildings start to re-open, complying with industry standards, keeping comprehensive records and using competent companies to carry out ventilation hygiene work will take on even greater significance. 

There were concerns that, as part of efforts to cut costs in the wake of the disruption, some businesses may look to reduce the frequency of cleaning, but this should only be done in a planned way, the Association said.

George Friend, chair of BESA’s Ventilation Hygiene group, said that while there was no direct link established between the spread of the coronavirus and the cleanliness of ventilation, that should not mean systems are not cleaned. Current guidance from the industry and healthcare experts is to provide maximum levels of outside air and avoid recirculation to protect against the virus.

“There have been ventilation hygiene standards in place for many years; so we are not asking people to do anything new,” he said. “However, it is more important than ever if systems are operating on full fresh air that ductwork is properly clean.

“Building managers should also consider whether their current ventilation strategy is still fit for purpose. Many are changing layouts and having new partitions installed to maintain social distancing, which will have an impact on airflows around the occupied spaces.”

Under current standards, buildings are separated into low, medium and high risk categories in the standard. Friend suggested that owners may decide their facility needs to move into a higher risk category as a result of changes brought about by the crisis. This will mean it would be subject to more frequent ventilation cleaning.

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