Negative Air-Pressure

Q: I’m butting heads with our Infection Control group regarding holes in construction barriers. They have started requiring the contractors to make the construction sites negative air-pressure, which is fine, if they have access to the outside of the building. If there isn’t any way to vent to the outside they want to install filters in the construction barrier so they can exhaust filtered air into the corridors. Our construction sites are fully sprinkled so we are not required to have fire barriers but I can’t find anywhere in the code that it says they can put holes in the corridor walls to exhaust air through. I’m telling them that if they put holes in the barrier I might as well hang beaded curtains because we don’t have a smoke separation anymore. What do you think?

A: I guess it depends on the level of construction, demolition or renovation. I like the idea of poking a hole in the corridor wall and exhausting through a HEPA filter into the corridor to create a negative air pressure in the construction area. That is a common process where there is no access to the outdoors. I don’t see a problem with this… just make your ILSM assessments for a corridor that no longer resists the passage of smoke and keep that exhaust fan w/HEPA filter running 24/7. Don’t let them turn it off.  Sometimes, IC people don’t like the airflow into the corridor because it stirs up the air in the corridor. But if your IC people are okay with this, then that would be considered best practice. I think you’re over-reacting… The Infection Control people are correct on this one.