Understand UB’s air quality and ventilation practices.
Following CDC recommendation, the University at Buffalo (UB) utilizes a layered approach to reduce the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This layered approach includes vaccination, face covering requirements, health screening tools, hygiene, regular surveillance testing as well as ensuring appropriate building ventilation.
CDC has published updated ventilation guidance throughout the pandemic, and the university has continued to evaluate and optimize ventilation systems on our campuses based on CDC and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance.
Preventative steps taken by UB have included inspection and maintenance of campus building HVAC systems, increasing the amount of outdoor air, improving overall airflow, extending operational hours, and increasing filtration where feasible.
One auxiliary ventilation strategy recommended by the CDC for high-risk areas (such as health clinics, vaccination and medical testing locations, workout rooms, or high-density public waiting areas) is the use of portable HEPA filtration air purifying units (APUs). UB’s Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) unit is working to identify spaces where APUs may be added to improve conditions in poorly ventilated spaces.
The CDC recognizes that APUs are not a substitute for a well-maintained and properly balanced HVAC system. Rather APUs are meant for auxiliary cleaning of air in areas where a risk assessment has identified the potential for increased risk. It is important to note that APUs are considered an emerging technology by the CDC and that in many cases where appropriate ventilation already exists, their use may not offer a benefit, and may even create a higher disease transmission risk. For example, directional air flow from fans and wall-mounted air conditioners has been implicated in the spread of COVID-19 in a number of indoor settings, including restaurants.
In accordance with current CDC and ASHREA guidance, UB is not recommending the use of APUs for non-high risk, general occupied areas. However, we do recognize that some may feel an individual desire for an APU in their space. UB will not provide funding for APUs in personal spaces unless UB Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) approves the purchase.
Purchase of APU units is the responsibility of the ordering unit or the individual, and will be approved only after EH&S review and approval of the need for the unit, and with the specified documentation.
If individuals or UB units wish to purchase an APU with UB funds, the following process is required:
All APUs must be fan-driven units, preferably with a HEPA filter. Other air purifying methodologies such as ionization and UV-C have not been fully vetted for health and safety in enclosed spaces and will not be allowed.