Q. What has happened in the last 2 months? A. Not enough!
In a very recent update from Public Health England regarding transmission, the following information was published.
“SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory (droplet and aerosol) and contact routes. Transmission risk is highest where people are in close proximity (within 2 metres). Airborne transmission can occur in health and care settings in which procedures or support treatments that generate aerosols are performed. Airborne transmission may also occur in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, particularly if individuals are in the same room together for an extended period of time. At the moment, human-to-human transmission is occurring extensively. Hence, precautions to prevent human-to-human transmission are appropriate for both suspected and confirmed cases (see infection prevention and control guidance).”
Q. What is happening now? A. Still not enough. Education and action is required!
A lot of evidence points towards Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), or the lack of good IAQ, which is just as culpable if not more so, as frequent touch points for the spread of COVID-19.
How safe do people feel going back to the office? As we all know many measures are already in place for social distancing, face masks and frequent touch points. Is this enough?
How many times have you sat somewhere when you are supposed to wear a mask and pulled it down to get some air? How many times have you gone to the shop without your mask? I know I have and would imagine the majority of people answering would also be a yes!
But what have you read about regarding the air we breathe within the office, coffee shop or restaurant?
Touch Points or IAQ?
A recent report found that a lady with Coronavirus entered a Starbucks coffee shop in South Korea, ordered her coffee and sat in the shop under a switched-on air-conditioning cassette unit. This proceeded to pick up the virus and spread it around the rest of the coffee shop and infected 56 other people who were inside the shop and not wearing masks!
This story is looking at the benefits of wearing a mask and is absolutely correct, however there are some places where this is just not practical and the fact they can be uncomfortable and restricting to wear, meaning people will remove them to “take a breather.”
The following link was published on American News called PBSO News Hour and the title is “How a focus on cleaning surfaces can distract from actual Virus spread” https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-a-focus-on-cleaning-surfaces-can-distract-from-actual-virus-spread
What technology is out there for improving IAQ?
As you are very much aware it is not always possible or practical to wear a mask whenever you are inside a building, not to mention how uncomfortable they are.
There are a few different ways of improving IAQ within the building space which are as follows;
Option 1. Regular Maintenance with Bryair and UVC treatment within HVAC systems
Option 2. Regular Maintenance with Bryair and installation of HEPA filters within HVAC systems.
Option 3. Regular Maintenance with Bryair and installation of Bipolar Ionisation technology.
CIBSE and HVAC Systems
The below is taken from CIBSE web page entitled “Coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, COVID-19 and HVAC Systems”
Where cleaning or planned maintenance of ventilation systems is required, such as in catering premises, it should be undertaken in line with agreed industry guidance, including that relating to site operations under social distancing requirements. Appropriate PPE should be worn and all materials, including old filters, should be carefully bagged, and disposed of safely. Given the requirement for many business premises to close for the immediate future, there is unlikely to be a requirement to undertake work on their ventilation or air conditioning systems at this time.
In poorly ventilated spaces with a high occupancy and where it is difficult to increase ventilation rates it may be appropriate to consider using air cleaning and disinfection devices. The most appropriate devices are likely to be local HEPA filtration units or those that use germicidal UV (GUV) radiation. GUV devices use radiation in the UV-C spectrum and have been shown to inactivate coronaviruses.
What about Air Quality Monitoring?
Another side of IAQ that we have recently looked at is, monitoring the air we breathe.
Research has shown that air quality and COVID-19, together with other viruses, are very closely linked. Some air quality monitors can use the data within the office to help create conditions inside buildings that helps to deactivate viruses and to enhance our immune system. This information is provided in a user-friendly software package which details accurate and real time data that can be fed into the buildings BMS system to allow you to keep your building providing good quality air.
With many different parameters measured and recorded this gives you the insight to be able to make changes to the settings within the BMS. Data such as temperature, relative humidity, PM2.5, Carbon Dioxide, and Nitrogen Dioxide are closely monitored with alarms set at user defined levels. These settings and information allow you to set up your building for the best conditions to fight the spread of viruses.
The news and evidence make it clear to see that this Virus is not going away anytime soon, with news updates stating a 2-week lockdown is very close to being agreed within government. What we have done with the first lockdown and the hygiene measures was to slow the spread rather that completely eradicate it. What we have not addressed is the “Elephant in the room” IAQ. Yes, masks must be worn when inside certain spaces but not practical in all.
To quote a certain film “The technology if installed has a particular set of skills, skills that were put into use over 40 years ago, skills that makes it a nightmare for the virus. The technology will look for the Virus, will find the Virus and will kill the Virus!!
We need to improve the IAQ in all buildings through more fresh air being introduced where possible, ensuring HVAC systems are regularly maintained by HVAC experts, monitoring the air inside and using germicidal cleaning technology which provides the user with not only good quality air but energy savings, health benefits such as improved productivity and less germs and viruses being spread around the office resulting in a reduction in staff sickness.