Breathing Space

Although the COVID-19 outbreak is relatively new, we have developed a good understanding of its cause and effects, and we are also learning a great deal about how the pathogen is transmitted. Until now, however, the emphasis has been on spread of the virus through contact with contaminated surfaces – hence the advice to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

While surfaces are still an important infection route, they’re not the only one; the evidence for airborne transmission is also mounting.

The British Medical Journal, for example, reported recently that microscopic respiratory droplets generated by talking and breathing can hover in the air for minutes or hours and drift many metres horizontally before infecting people.

More than 200 experts from 32 countries published a commentary in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a highly respected, peer-reviewed medical journal, that appeals to the medical community and to relevant national and international bodies including the World Health Organisation to recognise the potential for airborne spread of COVID-19.

The authors – who include physicians, epidemiologists, and experts in environmental health and building design – argue: “Studies by the signatories and other scientists have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt” that airborne droplets can pose a risk beyond 2m from an infected person. They cite the case of a Chinese restaurant where video captured an evening in which the virus spread from one table to others with no evidence of contact, direct or indirect, between the diners.

Don Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland, and one of the commentary’s authors, adds: “By ‘airborne’ we mean that the virus can be transmitted by inhalation of microscopic droplets generated from breathing, talking, singing, and not just from coughing and sneezing.

“This does not mean that the virus can spread as easily over long distances as do measles or tuberculosis. Most transmission happens in closed, indoor spaces where there is poor ventilation and crowding, and people are close together and talking loudly or singing without masks.”

So, what can be done to defend against airborne transmission of the virus in buildings? There are essentially, two methods – disinfection and filtration.

Both are typified by the CoilCare CC-X and In-Duct automated and chemical-free UV cleaning systems for airflow disinfection, both manufactured by US-based BioZone Scientific International and marketed in the UK by ECEX.

CoilCare CC-X is a powerful automated, chemical-free disinfectant that harnesses UV light to prevent bacteria, viruses and organic growth from taking-hold on cooling coils. It can be retrofitted into existing ventilation units to instantly start fighting the bacteria that builds up on cooling coil faces.

As air is cooled by passing it across the coil, condensation can produce a biofilm on the coil face. This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and reduces the efficiency of the coil itself. CoilCare CC-X’s powerful disinfection prevents bacteria, viruses, and organic growth from reproducing and multiplying on cooling coil surfaces.

The product also dramatically reduces airborne organic growth throughout the entire HVAC system, thus improving indoor air quality (IAQ) which leads to a wide range of associated occupational health benefits.

CoilCare CC-X restores the thermal efficiency of the coil, enhancing the energy efficiency of the whole system. Once installed, CoilCare CC-X is inexpensive to run and virtually maintenance free. ECEX can supply and install CoilCare CC-X systems into most air handling units (AHUs), offering the perfect accompaniment to its AHU refurbishment services.

Filtration is the second line of defence against harmful pathogens. However, beware – the filtration in most air handling units only targets particulates with no way of keeping bacteria and viruses at bay.

In Duct, however, can be retrofitted into existing ductwork and instantly starts fighting airborne and surface microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Featuring a Biozone Air Purification System, it eliminates airborne and surface microorganisms, decomposes volatile organic compounds and other organic compounds, removes hazardous chemical gases and reduces unpleasant odours.

ECEX is able to supply and install In Duct systems into most ducting systems. Once installed, In Duct is inexpensive to run and virtually maintenance free.

Click here to download our CoilCare CC-X leaflet.

Click here to download our In Duct leaflet.