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Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems

HVAC systems may provide a viable, rudimentary means of dispersing chemical or biological agents. Measures to reduce this risk may need to be considered

Last Updated 09 December 2020

Man manufacturing a ventilation systemIn order to maintain a comfortable indoor environment, occupied buildings will feature some form of ventilation and heating / cooling. This may be achieved through natural ventilation (e.g. wind / buoyancy effects), mechanical ventilation (e.g. fans / blowers) or hybrid / mixed-mode (a combination of natural and mechanical) ventilation systems, which due to their differing modes of operation have differing vulnerability to a CBRN attack.

Modern, commercial buildings such as shopping centres, airport terminals and sports venues typically use a distributed (mechanical) heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. HVAC systems, which can have many points of access, potentially provide a viable, rudimentary means of dispersing chemical or biological agents, and so consideration of measures to reduce this risk may need to be considered:

  • Review the design and physical security of your air-handling systems, such as access to intakes and outlets.
  • Improve air filters or upgrade your air-handling systems, as necessary.

Additionally, areas which may be considered high risk, e.g. mail rooms, may require dedicated air-handling and filtration.

Further advice is available from the Screening Mail and Courier Deliveries page.

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