Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the need for domestic and public spaces to be clean and safe has been emphasised. When trying to protect patients against viruses and bacteria, it is crucial that the environment around them is kept germ free and healthy.
The Covid19 crisis has only served to underline the importance of this, and with the potential of the virus being present in aerosol form in communal areas, people are thinking more and more about the usefulness of air purifiers.
When used correctly, air purifiers help to reduce the number of airborne contaminants in any confined space, and this can include viruses. Whilst there is no firm understanding, as yet, of how or if this may be useful in protecting specifically against COVID-19, it is understood that certain air purification systems, specifically those using PHI technology, are tried and tested as being effective against similar viruses (such as SARS) and will by extrapolation be likely to help the fight against coronavirus transmission.
For many, high risk spaces such as doctors and dentist surgeries are top of the list of their concerns – as they provide a higher opportunity for viruses to thrive than others. In 2011, Paul Feuerstein, DMD, wrote an article entitled “In the air tonight”, which discussed solutions for indoor air quality improvement, specifically with regards to the harmful effects of indoor air quality in dental offices.
This article looked at air purifiers as a way to provide a healthier space for medical settings such as these, and his findings have later been expanded upon by other researchers, proving that they are an essential element of a healthy space.
Alongside the regular airborne contaminants found in any indoor space, including allergens, bacteria and pet dander, there are a number of more specific sources of air contamination to contend with in dentist and doctor surgeries. These include:
Instruments used in medical and dental settings create hazardous bioaerosols – essentially an airborne collection of biological materials. Things like saliva and blood on these instruments contain microbes that can remain suspended in the air for up to six hours, creating a toxic cloud that spans from the floor to up to around six feet in height.
Sick patients are one of the more obvious ways that infectious illnesses can spread in enclosed areas. Infectious droplets exhaled, coughed, or sneezed out by an infected person can travel up to 160 feet within the room, and can then travel up to 10 stories through the building via an air conditioning system.
Medical and dental settings tend to have higher concentrations of harmful chemicals present in the local air space. This is due to a variety of reasons, and included chemicals such as:
Dust is an issue for all indoor spaces, and one of the main pollutants removed by air purifiers. Dental surgeries and laboratories have a bigger issue with dust than most other spaces, as the grinding of materials creates a heavy concentrations of fine white dust.
Nosocomial infections are found in patients under the medical care of a hospital or other medical care facility (such as a doctor’s surgery), that were not present at the time of admission. These infections are a major concern for any medical setting, as they strike patients who are already vulnerable, meaning that the outcome can be very serious.
According to the World Health Organisation, of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection.
These may be contracted at any time during:
The most common infections include pneumonia and gastroenteritis, but also include very serious infections such as MRSA.
Different types of air purifiers work in different ways, but they all work towards the common goal of removing as many airborne pollutants from the atmosphere as possible, improving the quality of the air and ensuring that patients and visitors are protected from noxious compounds and pathogens.
This is not only useful for patients and visitors, but also for the doctors, dentists and other medical personnel working within the setting, as these people tend to be the most at risk, working continuously in the affected space.
Finding an air purification system that protects all of the patients, staff and visitors within doctors and dentists surgeries in an effective way is no easy task, but the consequences for not doing so can be severe.
Things that must be taken into account when purchasing an air purification system for a medical setting include:
The air purifier needs to be able to remove the excess of air pollutants within a dental or doctors office. This doesn’t only include things like dust, mould and odours, but also bioaerosols, bacteria and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Standard filtration systems are not ideal here, as they simply trap bacteria and viruses – the system should be able to kill the contaminants it comes into contact with, using something like UV-C light.
The high footfall within these settings, coupled with the excess contaminants, means that the air purifier needs to be able to completely clean the air within a room in a short space of time.
The amount of air that moves through a purification system is measured as cubic feet per minute (CFM). It is suggested that units in these settings have enough CFM to turn over the indoor air once every 30 minutes.
All air purifiers make a little noise, as the air passes through the filtration system. However, a noisy system can be distracting for those working, and stressful for patients. A noisy system may lead to staff turning the unit down in order to appease visitors and staff, which will reduce the efficacy of the system. A good air purifier for these types of settings will be below 50dB. For comparison, human speech is, on average, around 60dB.
Ionic air purifiers have a benefit over standard filter systems as they are thought to re-energise the air as it passes through the filter. Re-energisation of indoor air has been thought to provide cognitive benefits including higher alertness and decreased drowsiness.
The Airius PureAir series is a great example of a system that would work well in a medical or dental setting, as it uses the latest PHI (Photohydroionization) Cell technology to remove and neutralise a range of airborne contaminants in any indoor setting.
The PHI Cell emits ‘Ionised Hydroperoxides’, which is the naturally occurring cleaning agent that is responsible for the ‘fresh air’ smell after thunderstorms. Fans circulate air quickly, quietly and effectively, leading to 24 hour clean air in any space.
The Hydroperoxides not only neutralise chemical and biological threats in the atmosphere, they also are dispersed onto surfaces where their impart a similar disinfecting action.
Their value is such that ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) strongly recommend their installation to control the spread of viral and bacterial diseases in buildings.
To find out about our range of PHI fans and how they can help you then please get in touch with us by calling on 01202 554 200 or sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org