In late September, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a warning that terrorists could disperse chemical weapons through building vents. Now, a national hvac manufacturer, Comfort Systems USA (Houston), has announced that it will form a new "HVAC Access and Indoor Air Quality Initiative" in order to respond to concerns over ventilation systems and terrorism.

According to a company press release, the initiative stems from the company's general concern that the hvac systems it designs, installs, and services have the potential to be misused to expose large groups of people to hazardous contaminants.

"As a leading provider of commercial and industrial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services nationwide, Comfort Systems USA felt it was our responsibility to apply our technical expertise to help address the growing concerns about bio and chemical terrorism," said Comfort Systems USA Chairman/CEO Bill Murdy. "That's why we are carefully assessing the risks and developing practical solutions for the customers that have asked us to take the lead in their facilities."

Murdy announced the appointment of senior vice president Chuck Sherman to head up the initiative within Comfort Systems USA. Sherman leads the Houston-based company's Business Solutions Group.

According to Sherman, Comfort Systems USA looks closely at a range of subjects, including placement of air intake vents, filtering technology, equipment room access, isolation of mailroom air-handling systems, and service technician background screening.