SPP air purification reduces coronavirus by 99.4% in just 30 minutes

The importance of wellness and health, mentally and physically, has been steadily gaining traction across the world in the last decade. This is clearly seen in the way that people are becoming more concerned about their diets, training, life stress factors and living in healthy environments. This is especially true about the spaces where most employees spend the biggest part of the waking life, the office. Companies have come to realise that the wellness of employees is linked to decreased absenteeism and increased productivity. More than that, the ability to provide a working environment that ensures the wellness of employees and clients alike attract star talent and builds a stronger brand. People want to feel safe and healthy in the environment that they operate in. One of the key factors of the operating environment is air quality.

Air quality in buildings has become an even more important factor to manage and control with the Covid-19 pandemic. Several studies have found that the virus is airborne which places a major responsibility on facility management to ensure that all circulating air is clean and free of any bacteria and viruses. With a second wave of COVID-19 going through parts of the world and vaccines being tested and rolled out there is significant uncertainty about what can be expected in 2021 and beyond.

So, what is happening in the commercial property environment? In FNB Commercial’s Property Finance 2021 Outlook briefing it was forecast that the expected South African economic recovery in 2021 would not be sufficient to stem the tide in of rising property vacancies and resultant downward trend on property incomes and values (Property Wheel, 26 November 2020). This would mean a competitive market in the commercial property sector in the short to medium term with an oversupply of stock. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) could play a significant differentiating role in terms of attracting tenants and for businesses to draw staff back to the office.

What are property owners doing to attract tenants and visitors to their properties in other countries? The New York Times reported on how property owners in the USA are using the new focus on indoor air quality to attract tenants and visitors, some even going to the extent of creating a new class of hypoallergenic room that is rented out at a premium (New York Times, 5 Dec 2020). The technologies being used are mechanical filtration upgrades to high MERV rating and HEPA filters as well as air purification using predominantly ionization and UVC radiation.

The different technologies have different benefits as well as different levels of technological maturity and implementation costs. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has already started looking at air purification as an area in their field that is gaining prominence and warranting further investigation. ASHRAE commissioned a position paper on the health benefits and technology maturity in 2015 and have subsequently given more comment with specific reference to air ionization in 2020 (ASHRAE Position document on filtration and air cleaning, 2015), (ASHREA Position on BI-Polar air ionization, 2020 and CDC response 2020).

Bi-polar air ionization is a technology that was already developed in the 1970s in Europe. Bipolar ionization occurs when an alternating voltage is applied to two electrode tubes creating a concentrated voltage and ionization of the surrounding air. The positive effect of positive and negative ions in the air have been widely researched. These charged ions remove particulates, allergens, bacteria, mold spores and even odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air. Removing these components have significant health and productivity benefits. One of the common effects of odours and VOCs is people feeling ill and irritated inside the building and better once they are outside, also known as “Sick Building Syndrome.” The ionization effect inactivates viruses by destroying the molecules of the proteins forming the virus. Viruses can thus not spread or cause harm once they are inactivated.

“Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.” (ASHRAE)

Bipolar ionization performance and subsequent installations have progressed with a growing mass of research evidence pointing to its germicidal efficacy (Journal for Aerosol Science, 2017) and this is where the opportunity lies for property owners and facility managers. For property owners the equation boils down to economics and the value add can be described as the economical benefit derived from improvements including indoor air quality compared to the costs incurred to install them. In terms of the benefit and actual germicidal effect with regard to the emerging technologies, there would have to be relied on laboratory and case studies in line with the CDC above. Further it is worth noting that indoor air quality looks at the quality of the air in general although there is a huge focus on COVID-19 at the moment. When considering the analogy of two friends running from a bear, the short- and medium-term goal must be to outrun the friend and the long-term goal to outrun the bear; action must be taken now to beat the competition in the right direction to have a sustainable solution. Bipolar ionization can be the solution giving a competitive advantage in the short term and improving the general building health in the long term including resistance to COVID-19 and other viruses.

See how Specialist Plasma Purification (www.spp-air.co.za) offers the commercial property owner a bi-polar air ionization solution that can be retrofitted to an existing HVAC system. The solution can be installed in a short timeframe and without the additional energy expenses associated with bigger and stronger HVAC systems required for higher MERV rating or HEPA filters. Also see supporting 3rd party verification testing done on various pathogens including SARS-CoV-2.