Different Types of Ventilation Systems to Improve Indoor Air Quality

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Ventilation system

Malak Rizk-Bigourd, PhD, Scientific Advisor and Quality Manager Ecomesure

Indoor air has a variety of pollutants like:

  • Biocontaminants (molds, pollen, dog allergens, cats, mites …).
  • Chemical compounds (tobacco smoke, raw wood panels and particles, insulation, photocopiers, DIY or furniture products …)benzene, formaldehyde, etc.
  • Fine particles (outdoor pollution, tobacco smoke, cooking, cleaning, combustion …)
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Radon
  • Carbon monoxide

Each of these pollutants causes health problems like headaches, allergies, rhinitis, bronchitis, fatigue, eye irritation, nausea, and even cancer. Every year, they cause thousands of deaths and billions in medical debt. But many cases of poor indoor air are due to faulty or impaired ventilation which can be easily corrected. 

You must ensure that you and your employees breathe fresh, pollutant free air, mostly for ethical reasons. The fact that productivity is significantly affected by the air we breathe makes the case even stronger. The pollutants in indoor air can be easily measured with an air monitoring device. There are a variety of options available. Here is the one we recommend as it is compact, simple and affordable. But air-monitoring device cannot help you improve ventilation. Ventilation is a must for the health as well as the comfort of occupants. It allows a continuous flow of fresh air and evacuates pollutants, odours, and humidity. There are three main ventilation solutions available. You must learn about the options, their advantages and shortcomings before making your decision. Below is an overview of the three types of ventilation systems:

1. Single-Flow Mechanical Ventilation (CMV) System: CMV systems ensure a continuous circulation of the air. Clean air enters through inlets located above the windows in the main rooms, and is ejected outdoors via sanitary areas (bathrooms, kitchens).

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2. Double- Flow Mechanical Ventilation System: The dual flow system is similar to the single flow system except that heat is extracted from the air that is blown out and is used to warm the air that is blown in. This conserves energy and maintains a stable temperature. This is done with an exchanger making sure that the incoming and outgoing air never come in contact. The dual flow ventilation systems can be combined with high efficiency filters as an ideal solution against allergies due to pollen, dust and soot.

3. Thermodynamic Double-Flow Mechanical Ventilation System: Its operating mode is identical to that of a dual-flow mechanical ventilation system except that a heat pump is added which fulfills the supplementary function to preheat the air.

To be effective, ventilation systems must be well designed and well maintained. However, a 2009 study on ventilation estimated that more than 50% ventilation systems extract airflow below the minimum level. Thus you should do good research before choosing your ventilation system. Your indoor air monitoring device can certainly help to know if your ventilation system is effective or not.