Understanding ASHRAE’s New Control of Infectious Aerosols Standard

Understanding ASHRAE’s New Control of Infectious Aerosols Standard

Last month, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), a global professional group dedicated to research, standards writing, publishing, certification, and continuing education in the fields of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, published new standards on controlling infectious aerosols indoors. 

This standard is the first of its kind to help mitigate the significant impact of infectious aerosols. 

ASHRAE’s previous indoor air quality standards (Standard 62.1 and Code 90.1) did not create guidance on how to reduce infectious aerosols indoors; they only created a minimum standard of healthy indoor air quality. This gap was highlighted at the onset of the pandemic, and has been addressed in the new standards to ensure a minimum standard for infectious air control indoors. 

This new standard is a first step in helping to support and control the quality of indoor air as it relates to infectious aerosols.

Below is a general summary of ASHRAE 241, as well as some information on what they mean.

Key highlights:

  1. Infection Risk Management Mode (IRMM) – This newly defined Mode establishes requirements for an infection risk management mode (IRMM). Authorities having jurisdiction can determine when the enhanced protections of Standard 241 are required and will apply during identified periods of elevated disease transmission risk. The term “Resilience”, which is defined as the ability to respond to extreme circumstances outside normal conditions, in indoor air quality control design and operations is introduced here as well.
  2. Equivalent Clean Airflow Rate requirements are set – The standard sets requirements for equivalent clean airflow rate target per occupant of pathogen free air flow, reducing the risk of infection.
  3. Use of Filtration and Air Cleaning Technology requirements set The standard provides extensive requirements for use of filtration and air cleaning (such as HEPA filters, air ionizers, or UV lights) to achieve equivalent clean airflow requirements and be cost effective effectively and safely.
  4. Planning and Commissioning – The standard provides assessment and planning requirements for being ready for the times when there is an event with increased disease causing pathogen transmissions including a building readiness plan.

What does this new standard mean? Is it enforceable?

This standard is an important first step in creating a foundation for significant improvement in the health of the quality of air we breathe indoors. The next steps are for this standard to become codified into local and state requirements for building and infectious disease transmission.

How can I help ensure these standards become the minimum requirement in buildings where I live, work, and play? 

To help support adoption of this new standard, call your local government officials to discuss the importance of this new standard and adopt regulations that reflect it. If and when a new pandemic hits, we want buildings to be better prepared to help support healthy indoor air quality.

How does Beacon support the adoption of ASHRAE Standard 241?

Beacon supports these new standards by helping ensure the places where people work, play, and congregate are better equipped to handle increased infection risks. Through our patent-pending technology, we are ready to be turned on whenever IRMM is invoked as well as needed by the user.

Where can I read the full standard?

ASHRAE Standard 241, Control of Infectious Aerosols can be purchased by clicking here.

Where can I learn more?

Consider exploring HVAC engineering experts like Joey Fox, who break down this standard, as well as many other important air quality topics.