An HVAC (also known as heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system) is one of the most important parts of a building’s design plan. It controls the overall climate of the building, including the regulation of humidity. Because these systems directly impact the temperature, moisture, and purity of the air, they’re crucial for maintaining physical health.
Newer buildings are required by law to meet certain standards for their HVAC systems, but even new buildings can run into maintenance or design issues with their HVAC systems. This is especially true for a business with a small budget. This means that temperature, humidity, and air purity levels in many buildings still may be breeding grounds for the distribution of bacteria, viruses, dust and other allergens. Although these issues may be temporary in a regulated building, even limited exposure to pathogens, air that is too dry or too humid, and uncomfortable temperature can cause health issues.
Another consideration regarding an HVAC system and health is that, even when the system is functioning properly, the needs of the business may require HVAC system settings that still are not optimal for health. In technology-related buildings (e.g., a call center with many computer stations or a medical equipment testing facility), the air is often kept at ridiculously low humidity levels in order to protect the materials in the building. This can cause problems such as nosebleeds from dry, cracked sinuses, chapped skin, etc. This is problematic because, although most people would sue for other work environment health issues, most people don’t seek compensation for the more minor conditions HVAC systems sometimes cause. As a result, the problem never is remedied.
HVAC systems are not just found in businesses-they’re found in the average home as well, whether the system is a complex furnace or a simple vent and stove. Many older homes aren’t regulated as well as larger buildings such as skyscrapers, mainly because they are private residences and therefore do not need to meet the regulations that exist for places of employment. It is common, for instance, for older homes to have outrageous heating bills in winter simply because their HVAC system doesn’t include an efficient furnace. Residents often end up getting sick because they choose being chilled over not being able to pay their heat bill.
If you suspect that your HVAC system is the cause of your chronic or periodic health problems, the best thing to do is to get the system checked by a professional. Keep a diary of health problem flair ups and see if they coincide with being in a certain area of the building or if they seem to correspond to a particular time of season. Keep track of the types of activities done in the area where you experience the most discomfort or symptoms, as well. This information will help the professional to test your system accurately and to provide you with the best solution. Keep all medical receipts related to the health issues you suspect are caused by the system, too, as this will provide further documentation of what you are experiencing and will provide a figure for any restitution you may seek to claim later on.