Understanding Aerosolized Transmission
COVID-19 has changed the way managers think about office facilities; as workers shifted to working from home because of various state mandates, these managers have wrestled with ways of keeping staff safe once employees eventually return to the workplace. Some advocate unrealistic measures, like blocking off huge swaths of an office building, or attempting to create traffic flow patterns by taping off access to areas. Some look to eliminate conference rooms or common areas. But others look to significantly reduce risks by addressing the source of aerosol transmission of pathogens and viruses—indoor air.
According to various studies, the novel coronavirus is primarily transmitted via aerosolized droplets in the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. What’s more, those droplets linger in the air and stay active and infectious on surfaces. That’s why so many experts advise people to wash their hands frequently. But in close quarters of office buildings, where stale air is recirculated, it’s difficult to remain contaminant-free.
HVAC and opening windows may not be the magic bullet
Some facility managers look to existing HVAC systems as a potential solution, but many of the existing systems aren’t designed to handle more air exchanges per hour, thus providing less fresher air. And, installing HEPA filters in the HVAC system’s air intake vents isn’t a solution either, since these thicker filters drag down the airflow and efficiency of the system, resulting in even less circulation. As a side note, these thick filters often cause managers to increase the amount of time systems run, decreasing system life expectancy because parts work overtime to keep up with demand. And, constantly running HVAC systems results in higher energy bills.
Opening windows for fresher air is a nonstarter in a number of instances. Many modern office buildings looked to provide HVAC systems with an “airtight seal,” making windows non-operable for the sake of energy conservation. So, many returning workers can’t even open windows.
Improved ventilation and air cleaning go hand in hand
One option that holds great promise: cleaning the indoor air. “I think improving ventilation and improving air cleaning is one of the few lines of defense that we have,” said Brent Stephens, an engineering professor and chair of Illinois Institute of Technology’s Department of Civil Engineering, in comments to the Chicago Tribune.
One way to do that is to install free-standing AeraMax Professional air purifiers in office areas, conference rooms and common areas. These commercial-grade air purifiers use four-stage air filtration with True HEPA filters to effectively and efficiently remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants, like viruses, the flu, bacteria, allergens and odors from indoor air.
In fact, a computational fluid dynamics study showed just how effective the placement of AeraMax Professional air purifiers can be in enclosed spaces. Computation Fluid Dynamics uses highly accurate computer modeling to showcase how “fluid” (in this case contaminated air) moves through spaces, and how AeraMax Professional units would remove the contaminants in the air and at what rate, in real time. That way, office managers and building owners could see how the purifiers work before purchasing them.
Clearly, the pandemic has changed business forever. But, in some ways, it has shed light on new, healthful practices that can benefit people in the long run…like focusing on indoor air and cleaning it with AeraMax Professional to ensure worker health.