UVC helps cut heating costs in jails

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Courtesy of Courtesy of E-CO

If you think it’s hard to get HVAC money for schools and similar public buildings, there is a harder nut to crack: correctional facilities. It can be even more difficult to get additional funds appropriated to improve conditions in buildings where people are incarcerated.

Compounding the problem, many correctional facility employees are in close proximity with the inmate community daily. Moreover, the dense inmate population raises the risks of disease outbreaks, including TB, HIV, hepatitis, asthma, and antibiotic-resistant staph, states the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which has been working to prevent/contain the spread of these and other diseases.

Because of TB’s airborne transmission, the BOP points out, “Th e identifi cation of a potentially infectious TB case in a correctional facility should always provoke a rapid response because of the potential for widespread TB transmission. Numerous outbreaks of TB have been reported in prisons and jails, especially among HIV-infected inmates.”

According to the BOP, characteristics of TB exposure include:

Air volume — “Th e volume of air shared between an infectious TB patient and susceptible contacts is an important determinant in the risk of TB transmission,” states the BOP. “Th e larger the air space, the more infectious particles are distributed and the less likely they are of being inhaled.” However, the more ventilation air is used, the higher the cost of system operation, particularly when the outdoor air needs to be heated or cooled.”

Ventilation — “Ventilation is an important factor in the risk of airborne transmission of disease,” the bureau continues. “Exposures in confi ned air systems with little or no ventilation have been associated with increased TB transmission. Th e space where airborne infection spreads includes all space sharing the same air. Th us, if air circulates from the room occupied by an infectious patient into other rooms, their occupants will also be exposed.”

Duration of exposure — TB transmission can occur aft er even a brief exposure, but the longer or more oft en a person is exposed to an infectious person, the greater the likelihood that person will also become infected.

According to the BOP, “certain risks and conditions, such as HIV infection, diabetes, chronic renal failure, injection drug use history, and close contact with someone who is sick with infectious TB, all pose a greater risk for getting TB disease.” Th ere are additional ventilation design considerations, not the least of which is security.

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