Chattanooga, Tenn. (Dec. 10, 2020) – The Tennessee Aquarium has completed an essential infrastructural project to improve indoor air quality and ensure visitors’ peace of mind.
The Tennessee Aquarium recently was awarded a Tennessee Community CARES Program grant by the Tennessee Department of Human Service to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The Aquarium applied for a grant of more than $800,000. The majority of the money was used to upgrade existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems throughout the Aquarium campus.
A total of ten HVAC units were purchased. Eight were installed within the River Journey and Ocean Journey buildings. Two additional units were installed in the Aquarium’s ticketing center and administration buildings.
“These new units will increase the airflow and air quality within our buildings,” says Rodney Fuller, the Aquarium’s director of facilities and maintenance. “The units are equipped with ultraviolet-C (UVC) light filters, which help disinfect the air.”
These lights are sometimes called “germicidal” lamps because UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “UVC radiation may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
Since reopening to guests in June, the Aquarium has adopted a comprehensive suite of health protocols developed in consultation with infectious disease specialists. These include mask requirements for staff and guests, timed-entry tickets and capacity limits.
The upgraded air-handling units should provide guests with much-needed peace of mind so they can relax, de-stress and enjoy their visit, Fuller says.
“The science tells us that increased airflow and better filtration greatly reduces the risk of exposure,” he says. “As a nonprofit, we were grateful to receive the funding to add another layer of safety for our guests, staff and volunteers.”
Learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium’s safety policies and procedures at: https://tnaqua.org/welcomeback/
This project is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.