You’ve probably never thought of it before...
It’s not a topic discussed over meals with the latest breaking news stories. But day after day, millions of people are suffering the effects for not knowing the answer to this simple question.
Some are distressed in relative silence and obscurity in their office cubicles, classrooms and homes. Others in public as they attend to walk-in
customers or shop and dine at retail locations.
Knowing the answer to this question can help you take care of your customers and staff, providing a favorable environment for business to be transacted both now and in the future.
That’s what you would think.
But, dirt that is found on the air conditioning grilles, surrounding ceiling tiles, exposed duct work and ceiling fans is different than the dirt you sweep off your patio or out of your stock room.
The dirt accumulation you see on these areas was first airborne, circulating in the air with the stream of the air conditioner - the majority of it too small to be seen except by microscope.
Airborne particles enter buildings through open doors and windows, environmental pollution, pollens, poorly maintained HVAC systems, illness of staff and customers, or on the person of ordinary foot traffic in and out of your establishment (known as human dander). When the accumulation is concentrated enough in an area, it can be visible to the unaided eye.
This particle accumulation attracts a host of other micro-organisms, like dust mites (a close relative of spiders, scorpions and ticks), bacteria, viruses and diseases, mold spores and allergens too numerous to mention here. The feces of dust mites (of which there are upwards of 20,000 different species!) are known to affect 85% of all allergy sufferers and is the leading cause to trigger an asthma attack, (as humans react adversely to the digestive enzymes of the dust mite - some more severely than others). Other conditions include Eczema and Allergic Rhinitis with various chronic symptoms.
These infested particles can contribute to the growth and spread of Legionnaire’s Disease (caused by Legionella, a bacterium). Legionella is estimated to affect 100,000 people in the United States annually (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta). The condition is misdiagnosed in over 50% of the cases reported . Most cases are not reported or made public, as lawsuits are settled quickly and under terms of confidentiality. It has been suggested that only 3% of sporadic cases are correctly diagnosed, as Legionella is undetected unless special laboratory tests are performed.
This misdiagnosis results in the death of the individual, as the symptoms mimic that of pneumonia (of which 8 to 39 deaths occur each week in the United States without anyone knowing that the true cause could have been avoided or treated with early detection) or flu (ie: fatigue, lack of energy, wheezing, upper respiratory tract irritation, headache, nausea, aching muscles, high fever, chest pains). Victims who do survive may suffer permanent physical or mental impairment, as well as long term side effects.
There has been lots of recent public awareness brought to the dangers of viruses, diseases and mold that can contribute to ’sick building syndrome’ and the constant illness of staff, greatly reducing employee productivity.
Relatively new to the awareness of food (ie: candy, starch, flour, etc.) and various pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries through OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration SHIB 07-31-2005), is Combustible Dust (also known as Organic Dust). The vast majority of natural and synthetic organic materials as well as some metals are affected. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed the ‘Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handing of Combustible Particulate Solids’ (NFPA 654).
Combustible dust is created when a solid substance is processed and becomes airborne (“any material that will burn in air in a solid form can be explosive when in a finely divided form”). This dust accumulates on exterior surfaces, and can ignite under normal circumstances.
A contributing factor to the combustion is poorly maintained ventilation and housekeeping that allows accumulation of the dust on exterior surfaces. When combustion occurs, there is a primary explosion, which disperses this accumulated dust into the air in an increased quantity and greater concentration. This disbursement triggers a secondary explosion, which can be far more deadly than the primary one.
OSHA ventilation standard 29 CFR 1910.22 (a) (1) requires employers to keep work places and other areas clean, which includes the removal of dust accumulations.
Additionally, many state and federal agencies exist for the collection of data and distribution of information regarding the issues and health effects pertaining to indoor air quality and indoor contaminants. This, following the increase in health complaints related to energy conservation measures in the early 1970’s, as these measures generally reduced the infiltration of outside air, allowing the build-up of indoor air contaminants.
NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has conducted approximately 500 Health Hazard Evaluations on indoor air quality by invitation of employers. The primary types of problems found were inadequate ventilation (52%), contamination from inside and outside of the building (28%), microbiological contamination, building and furnishings, and unknown sources (20%).
The Surgeon General, the National Research Council, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and many other agencies have published their findings regarding indoor air quality and related health effects. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has established fundamental procedures to consider for improving indoor air quantity and quality by increasing ventilation and reducing contaminants.
As a business owner, you can’t afford NOT to be concerned!
With health care costs and litigation scenarios on the rise, this issue directly affects your bottom line.
Employee productivity is always a factor, as the training and cross training of employees eats away at profits.
Studies have shown that customers will shop and conduct business in environments where they are comfortable. If they experience physical reactions when they enter your establishment—they will shop elsewhere!
Customers take notice of businesses where the interiors are clean and tidy—not just the floors, which are the most obvious upon entry. Most customers will avoid those facilities where dirt is visible unless their business needs and activity can’t be conducted at any other location.
OSHA standards prohibit typical janitorial company staff from climbing ladders (not to mention what the workers’ compensation companies would say!). Additionally, janitorial companies do not want to be responsible for anything considered “HVAC” related.
Air conditioning contractors will install and service the units (normally located on the roof) under contract. They will not enter a business establishment to clean the air conditioning grilles or any associated accumulation on the ceiling that occurs. They know that this accumulation will put additional strain on the compressor, and works to shorten the life of the unit. They will be available, however, to install a new unit for you when your current one prematurely fails.
As this accumulation is the result of airborne particles collecting over time (as they are not visible to the eye until a sufficient amount has built up), ‘knocking’ it off with a broom will put all of the particles back into the air at a greater concentration than if they would have been left alone! Sensitive and immune compromised individuals will know immediately by reaction! Using a broom or shop vacuum will make the interior ‘look’ better, but it will actually be more toxic to your customers and staff.
The Grille-Master, Inc.™ will arrive on the scene to provide an initial assessment of your facility with digital pictures (if desired) free of charge! That once airborne ‘dirt’ is no match for The Grille-Masters latest technology for particle removal. Soon that accumulation making everyone sick will be gone - and your interior look will be worth ‘a second look!’ We’ll even take ‘after’ pictures so you can see and compare the difference for yourself!
A Grille-Master, Inc.’™ technician will check your facility periodically and advise of additional service needed (if it falls outside the predetermined scheduled visits, or if the time between servicing can be extended). This, combined with energy conservation, cost control, potential increased employee productivity, happy, healthy customers and staff, a visibly clean establishment and possibly extending the life of the A/C unit itself - what are you waiting for? Call for an appointment with one of our friendly professionals today!