Ventilation systems remove cooking heat, effluent and odors.


Air Purification 101

Restaurant operators have a number of available options to make indoor dining safer for customers and employees.

In addition to rigorous cleaning protocols, a growing number of restaurants have implemented air purification systems that greatly improve safety and sanitation. Although cleaning the air can be effective, depending on the method used, there is not a foolproof method to stem the spread of germs or diseases.

Kitchen emissions can negatively impact restaurant air quality. Cooking units emit substantial amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), in addition to hazardous fumes that can cause health risks. Operations cooking with liquified petroleum gas, wood and charcoal often require air purification systems working together with ventilation hoods to clean the air and expel dangerous pollutants.

Generally, air purification is considered either active or passive. Passive purification utilizes a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtering system that catches tiny virus particles. Active treatment typically encompasses some type of ionization process.

With passive air treatment, filters work with high MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) system ratings. This measurement reports a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. MERV ratings, derived from a testing method developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, can help when comparing the performance of different filters.

The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter will be at trapping specific particle types.

While air purification systems use various ionization methods, generally speaking, they all work in a comparable manner. These systems generate positively or negatively charged particles that work in conjunction with HVAC systems. To clean the air, these systems push particles into the atmosphere, where the particles attach to germs and other air contaminants and deactivate them. This helps prevent viruses and other harmful impurities from spreading.

Ideally, active and passive treatments are most effective when working in combination with an HVAC system. Properly size the system’s fans and motor capacity to accommodate highly efficient air purification filters with higher MERV ratings. If the restaurant is a new build, this is easier to accomplish. With existing operations, HVAC companies can retrofit active and passive systems.


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