“It all flows from airborne transmission.”
On March 29, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held an online discussion with experts on cleaning the air not only for COVID-19 but for other infectious diseases as well and for overall indoor air quality. One point all the experts agreed on is that health authorities really missed the boat two years ago by focusing on surfaces instead of airborne transmission. Joseph Allen, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the book Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, laid it out:
“Because we focused on surfaces, that led to the control strategy of cleaning doorknobs, cleaning elevator buttons, people cleaning their groceries. That was a big mistake. It all flows from airborne transmission…We have to remove the virus from the air. We can move it out of the building through ventilation. We can clean it out of the air through filtration. We can inactivate it through germicidal UV light. It is really that simple.”
Commissioning a building
Allen further addressed how buildings are designed for bare minimum standards, not for health-based standards, and that “the standard that governs ventilation in your coffee shop, your school, your office, your home” is designed for “acceptable” indoor air quality. “I don’t know about you, or anybody else,” Allen said, but “I do not want acceptable air quality I want healthy air quality or optimal indoor air quality.” He highlighted the fact that “we have choked off the air supply in our buildings for decades. We have got a virus that spread nearly entirely indoors and that sets us up for this massive problem.”
To tackle these unhealthy indoor environments, Allen recommends “tuning up” or, “commissioning,” a building to improve overall air quality, as well as improve energy efficiency. As part of such an initiative, cleaning the air “is great for COVID,” but, he notes, “there are many other benefits here.” To that point he addressed schools, in particular. His team conducted a study a couple of years ago called Schools for Health that showed that “the school building influences student health, student thinking and student performance.” In short, the better the air quality in a building, the better students’ health, cognitive abilities, and school performance.
How to improve indoor air quality
To improve indoor air quality all the experts recommended improving ventilation and filtration, but they also recommended germicidal UV as a proven means of preventing the spread of infectious disease and improving indoor air quality, “it really is that simple,” as noted in Allen’s statement, above, but they also recommended UV with a crucial caveat and we could not agree more—it needs to be the right UV and it has been correctly installed. (Note: for more information on what to look for when selecting UV systems, check out the CDC’s guidance.)
As addressed by aerosol virus transmission expert and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, Linsey Marr:
“Hospitals have used germicidal UV for a long time near the ceiling. And this kills off virus that passes through the upper air and again the air is constantly moving in a room so constantly it does end up getting there even if it is lower down. These types of systems need to be carefully spec-ed and installed in order to be effective and safe to avoid exposure of UV to people.”
And as addressed by expert environmental engineer and industrial hygienist, Ken Martinez:
“With regard to GUV germicidal ultraviolet radiation it is a proven technology. It’s used widely in healthcare and laboratories. However, there are maintenance and implementation issues that include potential health impacts if not installed properly”
Aerapy UV for helping prevent the spread of disease, building IAQ and energy savings
Aerapy’s study-backed, tested, and certified germicidal UV products help prevent the spread of disease and improve indoor air quality (we’ve even won a prestigious award for it). Our upper air UV units offer targeted, immediate disinfection in buildings with or without HVAC in place and our UV for HVAC not only brings air disinfection but energy savings as well as coils are kept clean. For more on clean air in buildings and what Aerapy UV products can do for you, check out Clean Air in Buildings: Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease and Improving Health or contact us today for more information. Call us at 866-994-2473 or contact us online.