Over the course of the last 12 months, life as we know it has completely changed. Nobody could have predicted a global pandemic of a scale that would lead to the mass closures of businesses and strict limitations on interactions. Yet here we stand in the midst of yet another lockdown, battling against the risk of COVID-19 and assessing how businesses can reopen safely once restrictions start to ease.
Returning to spending time in indoor settings, from restaurants and pubs to shops and workplaces, is a significant concern. In new research, phs discovered more than two thirds of consumers (68%) are concerned about catching COVID-19 in indoor environments. Despite the infection control measures put in place by businesses, a quarter of people (26%) say they don’t trust the measures in place are enough to protect them. And nearly half (46%) feel that the closing down of businesses made them feel they were not COVID-safe environments; which is hardly reassuring for those who have either been forced to close their doors entirely or move towards a new home working culture.
When it comes to infection control measures for businesses, most of us feel fairly certain about what this involves; regular hand washing and sanitisation, wearing masks and social distancing – summarised by the UK Government message of ‘Hands, Face and Space’. But despite these measures being implemented across the board, the second wave has hit the nation hard. And some suggest it’s because we’re missing a vital element when it comes to infection control; the air we breathe.
Researchers, scientists and medics worldwide are calling for the airborne risk of COVID-19 transmission to be taken far more seriously and the evidence to support this is growing exponentially. In the latest phs Index report, our air-care specialists partnered with Cambridge University Professor Paul Linden, an expert in fluid mechanics, to reveal how COVID-19 can be spread through the air in indoor environments. We’ve all heard about the risk of infection by physical touch and droplets which are expelled from an infected person. However, we’re not all as familiar with the airborne risk from the smaller infected aerosols which are breathed out and remain in the air. Worryingly, as Prof Linden clearly outlines, these aerosols are not contained by masks and can linger around a room for up to hours at a time creating a significant risk of infection for others – even after an infected person has left.
Once we consider how COVID-19 can travel through the air, we can start to understand that we need to be even more robust when it comes to infection control. Improving indoor air quality is a critical component in the fight against coronavirus and the solution lies in ventilation; ensuring a good supply of fresh air and increasing the number of air changes within a room. Opening doors and windows certainly helps but this is not always possible, particularly during the cold winter months. And this is where air purification comes to the fore.
Air purifiers physically remove impurities such as viruses and germs from the air, emitting cleaner and fresher air back into the indoor environment. They can change the air within a room up to five times per hour, that’s once every 12 minutes. This is an absolute game changer for organisations across all sectors. While it’s too soon for research to guarantee air purifiers eliminate COVID-19, the evidence so far is very promising. For instance, phs’ AERAMAX air purifiers are proven to be effective on viruses from flu and colds to the norovirus and also capture particles of TB, measles, mumps, whooping cough and chicken pox. Meanwhile, genetic similarities have been found by researchers between COVID-19 and the SARS virus, which AERAMAX captures. Used in partnership with hygiene measures including regular handwashing, sanitisation, cleaning and social distancing, air cleaning creates another robust line of defence as we battle against the risks of coronavirus. And, positively, air purifiers remove other particulates from the air including pollutants, allergens such as dust and pollen, VOCs as well as odours, reducing exposure to indoor air pollution and having a positive impact of the health and wellbeing of building users over the long term.
We firmly believe that as part of a comprehensive infection control strategy, air purification has an important part to play in the safe reopening of the economy. What’s more, it will demonstrate a commitment to creating a safe setting which will boost confidence as organisations look to reopen and welcome people back into their buildings.
Prior to the pandemic, awareness was growing for the virtue of air purifiers in enhancing indoor air quality. Now, the role of air purifiers is set to be cemented as pivotal in creating cleaner, healthier and fresher environments both now and for the future.
For more information on the risk of airborne transmission as well as on the impact of COVID-19 on organisations, download the free phs Index white paper. You can also visit the phs Index pages of the phs website https://www.phs.co.uk/phsindex and follow @phsGroup on Twitter and phs Group on LinkedIn
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