Report Explores Building Retrofit Options to Improve Protection Against Airborne Hazards

A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the EPA offers building owners and managers information on retrofit options to improve the safety of buildings against airborne chemical and biological hazards. The new guide can be used to determine whether or not -- and how -- to harden existing buildings against accidental chemical releases or possible terrorist threats.

NIST researchers evaluated 14 alternative retrofit techniques based on data from simulated airflow and contaminant transport computer modeling as well as a case study in which retrofits were designed for a high-rise and single story building. In conjunction with the report, NIST also developed a life-cycle cost analysis tool for chemical and biological protection of buildings that helps building owners and managers to compare life-cycle costs of installation, operation and maintenance to determine the most cost-effective combination of retrofit options for their structure.

Retrofit options considered include enhanced particle filtration, sorbent-based gaseous air cleaning, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, photocatalytic oxidative air cleaning, work area air capture and filtration equipment such as mail handling tables, ventilation system recommissioning, building envelope air-tightening, building pressurization, relocation of outdoor air intakes, shelter-in-place, isolation of vulnerable spaces such as lobbies, system shutdown and purge cycles, and automated heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) operational changes in response to contaminant sensing.

Potential advantages, disadvantages and knowledge gaps are discussed for each technology. For example, the researchers note that filtration and air cleaning options have the advantage of being always in operation. However, as the report notes, their disadvantage is a current lack of standards for testing and rating gaseous air cleaning systems and other air cleaning approaches. The study also notes the potential for increased energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality results from various retrofit options, which could play a role in life-cycle cost comparisons of different strategies.

The analysis of retrofit strategies useful against chemical and biological building contamination and the development of software tools to select cost-effective ways to mitigate the hazards were performed under an inter-agency agreement with EPA's National Homeland Security Research Center, Decontamination and Consequence Management Division.

The new NIST/ EPA report, Building Retrofits for Increased Protection Against Airborne Chemical and Biological Releases (NISTIR 7379/EPA/600/R-06/157), is available in PDF format at http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build07/PDF/b07006.pdf and http://www.epa.gov/nhsrc. The Life-Cycle Cost Analysis Tool (EPA/600/C-06/016) is available at http://www2.bfrl.nist.gov/software/LCCchembio/index.htm and http://www.epa.gov/nhsrc. A primer on the software is included in an appendix to NISTIR 7379/EPA/600/R-06/157.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2022

    May 2022

    Featuring:

    • WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY
      How Wearable Technology is Transforming Safety and the Industrial Workplace
    • TRAINING: CONFINED SPACES
      Five Tips to Improve Safety in Confined Spaces
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Monitor for Asbestos to Help Save Lives
    • PPE: FALL PROTECTION
      Fall Protection Can Be Surprising
    View This Issue