Reopening Businesses Safely With Air Purification
Businesses are still navigating the unknown of operating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, with changing public health policies and an evolving body of knowledge about the transmission of airborne viruses. Many workplaces have likely had to deal with some positive cases among their workforce, disrupted supply chains, or an abrupt change in reopening plans. With the economy entering new stages of reopening thanks to reduced case counts and increasing vaccination rates, there is now a need to pivot towards increased utilization of public spaces. The most successful businesses in this time will be those able to seize the opportunities of the new economy. Because COVID-19 and its variants cannot be eliminated altogether it is understood that reopening will carry residual risks related to the virus, and various methods of screening those COVID-19 risk factors are needed. As gathering restrictions are reduced and more workers and customers return to public places, new risks will emerge related to COVID-19 transmission and heightened expectations for workplace safety. Improving the ventilation of your business or public space with air purification will be a critical part of successfully adapting to this reality.
Air Purification – Part of a Reopening Strategy
For a business owner or facility operator, there is no “silver bullet” to reopen. Instead, a suite of measures is needed to eliminate or mitigate the different threats of COVID-19. This is true for restaurants, shopping malls, offices, schools, medical centers, and other gathering locations. Air purification will be an important strategy when paired with other measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing measures, or hybrid work arrangements. Air purification will significantly reduce the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission but is not a replacement for other public health measures or workplace best practices. The combination of strategies that you use in your workplace will depend on your operations but are likely to include a portable or industrial air purification solution given its effectiveness in reducing the transmission of airborne viruses. For example, check out our case study below on why the Ontario government is using HEPA filters like Aeroex’s as a way to scale back mask-wearing policy for low-risk cohorts.
What To Know About Air Purification for COVID-19
Improving indoor air quality is a key way to reopen business safely because of how COVID-19 is transmitted. Per the CDC, viruses like COVID are transmitted when a contagious person breathes out droplets and very small particles that are carried through the air to recipients. Infections occur when this air is breathed in or received by other vectors. However, as reported by sources like the New York Times, medical-grade air purifiers (like those produced by Aeroex) with a HEPA filter can capture these small particles highly effectively. Particles that cause the virus are around 125 nanometers in size while a HEPA filter captures particles as small as 10 nanometers (the HEPA standard is 30 nanometers but a recent NASA study showed its highly effective past this). Therefore, deploying HEPA filter air purification systems like those produced by Aeroex in your workplace is an excellent strategy. Understanding the science of air purification and the root causes of COVID-19 transmission, buyers should be aware of claims from other technologies like UV lights that don’t prevent transmission – evidenced by recent controversies like the UV light recalls ordered by Health Canada.
How to Know What HEPA Filter To Use for Air Purification
While science shows the power of HEPA filters, the way they are deployed is important for success. There are many different public spaces in need of protection ranging from condo lobbies to the storefront of an independent business – in each case, the existing ventilation, air volume, and gathering size will be different. To prevent transmission, air needs to be purified at a rate that prevents particles containing the virus from staying too long in the air – this is measured by something called air exchanges per hour. To prevent transmission, an air purification system catered to your space must provide sufficient air exchanges. Aeroex is aligned with the ongoing research recommending ~6 exchanges per hour and uses tools like our volume calculator to propose the appropriate model with sufficient capacity. It is important to ensure that the HEPA filters used to provide this air exchange capacity, either using a larger unit or several small units where a large unit is not possible. Many companies claim to provide the HEPA efficiency, but not with the air exchanges you need. When deploying for locations with large open rooms, Aeroex typically uses models like our IRIS 4500, a unit that mounts into your existing ventilation systems and provides a primary MERV 8 carbon filter and a secondary HEPA filter with an efficiency rating of 99.97% at 0.3 microns. Other strategies include leveraging existing mechanical ventilation and choosing the right locations inside the room. If you do not have mechanical ventilation, we will help you to see a portable (non-mounted) model.
Case Study – Provincial Government Deploys 70,000 HEPA Filters in Ontario Schools
Medical grade air purification systems with HEPA filters like those designed by Aeroex are widely accepted as an industry best practice, which is why the Province of Ontario continues its deployment of HEPA filters in schools. To date, 50,000 have been deployed and another 20,000 are being deployed in time for the 2021 school year (as reported by Global News). The Province wishes to enhance the safety of schools and prevent the spread of COVID-19, using HEPA filters as part of a range of policies and measures. The Province is using air purification systems to enhance mechanically ventilated classrooms, as well as to provide standalone coverage in areas like cafeterias and gymnasiums that do not have mechanical ventilation. In the announcement by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, highlights relevant to the case study included the following:
- It’s another added layer of protection that recognizes that our youngest learners in this province will not be required to wear masks” – Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
- “Standalone HEPA filter units should be used in places where mechanical ventilation and improvements to ageing HVAC systems was difficult to achieve” – Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table
Aeroex is a proud contributor to the fight against COVID-19 and high-quality classrooms for Ontario children. Our IRIS system is popular among public workspaces and institutions, including education, medical, government, and commercial buildings. Even before COVID-19, hundreds of our units were deployed in school boards, colleges, and universities across Ontario (we are an Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace approved vendor). This has only increased due to the increased business case for deploying HEPA filters. To become part of Aeroex’s fight against poor air quality, contact us today to learn more about deploying our IRIS medical-grade air purification system.