Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been used in products, such as insulation for pipes (steam lines for example), floor tiles, building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Asbestos includes the mineral fibers chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite and any of these materials that have been chemically treated or altered. Heavy exposures tend to occur in the construction industry and in ship repair, particularly during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation, repairs, or demolition. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos also causes cancer of the lung and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura which is a fatal malignant tumor of the membrane lining the cavity of the lung or stomach.
ACH. Air changes per hour. The amount of air in a building that leaks out or is removed by a fan and is replaced by outdoor air. Usually listed as a fraction of one air change per hour, such as .35 ACH.
AIR EXCHANGE RATE: The rate at which outside air replaces indoor air in a space. Expressed in one of two ways: the number of changes of outside air per unit of time air changes per hour (ACH); or the rate at which a volume of outside air enters per unit of time – cubic feet per minute (cfm).
AIR HANDLING UNIT (AHU): For purposes of this document refers to equipment that includes a blower or fan, heating and/or cooling coils, and related equipment such as controls, condensate drain pans, and air filters. Does not include ductwork, registers or grilles, or boilers and chillers.
BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINANTS: Agents derived from, or that are, living organisms (e.g., viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mammal and bird antigens) that can be inhaled and can cause many types of health effects including allergic reactions, respiratory disorders, hypersensitivity diseases, and infectious diseases. Also referred to as “microbiologicals” or “microbials.”
CEILING PLENUM: Space below the flooring and above the suspended ceiling that accommodates the mechanical and electrical equipment and that is used as part of the air distribution system. The space is kept under negative pressure.Also referred to as “microbiologicals” or “microbials.”
CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services whose mission is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. See www.cdc.gov
CENTRAL AIR HANDLING UNIT (Central AHU): This is the same as an Air Handling Unit, but serves more than one area.
NEGATIVE PRESSURE: Condition that exists when less air is supplied to a space than is exhausted from the space, so the air pressure within that space is less than that in surrounding areas. Under this condition, if an opening exists, air will flow from surrounding areas into the negatively pressurized space.
NIOSH: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is the only federal Institute responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries. See www.cdc.gov/niosh
PLENUM: Air compartment connected to a series of ducts. For example, a ceiling plenum is the space above the suspended ceiling and below the floor above that is used as part of the air distribution system.
POSITIVE PRESSURE: Condition that exists when more air is supplied to a space than is exhausted, so the air pressure within that space is greater than that in surrounding areas. Under this condition, if an opening exists, air will flow from the positively pressurized space into surrounding areas.
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOCs): Compounds that vaporize (become a gas) at room temperature. Common sources which may emit VOCs into indoor air include housekeeping and maintenance products, and building and furnishing materials. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, memory impairment; some are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur at the levels of VOCs typically found in public and commercial buildings.