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HVAC Maintenance Vital As Businesses Reopen Post COVID-19
HVAC Maintenance Vital As Businesses Reopen Post COVID-19

In what can only be described as a very turbulent year, many businesses have had to shut their doors and have all but forgotten about the general upkeep of their sites. With priorities shifted to keeping companies afloat and staff employed, maintenance and servicing has taken a backseat, and many systems will be deteriorating unnoticed. It goes without saying that one of the first tasks that employers will have to tackle when returning to work is a deep clean. As we are still in the throes of a pandemic, a clean and disinfected workplace is the number one priority that needs to be ensured, before any staff can be welcomed back to work. This should be closely followed by maintenance of the site’s equipment. Importance of regular HVAC maintenance Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively. The nature of HVAC maintenance does change depending on the time of year, and with some sites being shut for months and through different seasons, managers will need to review their current equipment to ensure it is compliant and working correctly as soon as possible as signs of normality start returning and facilities begin to reopen. While warehouses and factories may have still been operating in some capacity over the last 12 months, many office buildings have seen little to no employees for more than a year in some cases, therefore, risking deterioration and even damage to their systems going unnoticed and untreated. But with so many pieces of equipment at each site, it is often hard to know where to start and what to prioritize. Following HVAC manufacturer’s recommendations In order for businesses to keep functioning as best as they can and to avoid any more disruption, those in charge of maintenance and servicing need to be educated on how the conditions of a system affects the type of work it needs. Manufacturer’s recommendations should also be taken into account. To help define what these are and how to approach them, mechanical and electrical engineers recommend: The coils and pipes in HVAC equipment that are responsible for heat transfer are checked regularly, because if the equipment gets dirty, it won’t transfer heat and energy as well. Checking controls annually to ensure that the HVAC system is running properly, as control calibration can alter. By scheduling regular check-ups, accurate operation is maintained. Maintaining equipment with fans quarterly to maximize longevity. Three key areas include monitoring the impellers, belts and bearings for any dirt, wear and tear, friction or erosion. Keeping an eye on filters, as when they are clogged, it increases the pressure drop in a system, which makes fans work harder to maintain the same airflow. A quarterly clean is usually sufficient for most filters. This is also true of strainers in systems. Optimizing HVAC and electrical equipment With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency. This includes reviewing the sequence of operations for a morning warm up and cool down. However, it’s important to remember that because of prolonged closures over the last 12 months, autumn and winter checks, and in some cases, even summer checks were not able to be carried out in 2020, so before the spring work begins, backdating the maintenance is a good place to start. Ensuring buildings’ energy efficiency With the help of experts, HVAC maintenance doesn’t have to be time-consuming and overwhelming, but it’s a critical part of maintaining an energy-efficient building that is both comfortable and reliable. With regular servicing and some basic knowledge of what is required, sites can maintain optimum efficiency all year round. Noise complaints can also be an issue, if HVAC maintenance isn’t carried out regularly. Spring is a good time for businesses to perform services on their equipment, prior to the summer months starting and should be used to ensure that condenser coils and air handler filters are both clean. The dirtier the equipment, the noisier and less efficient it becomes, which is bad news for any business. Preparing buildings for staff returning to work When a building is returning to normal occupancy after a lengthy closure, additional checks must be considered before reopening is discussed. When a building is initially mothballed, it must be prepared for long term vacancy, but many businesses will not have had this opportunity before the national lockdown, which basically entails that these checks will not have been carried out. After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop. At the very least, the frequency of existing planned maintenance will change, but in some cases, more maintenance tasks are required in order to keep the site ticking over. This includes flushing of water systems, Legionella testing and insurance inspections to keep the property functional and compliant. Countering health and safety issues  As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted across the United Kingdom and many businesses are gradually reopening, it will present health and safety problems that have not been faced before and will very likely see a surge in services and maintenance being required. With this in mind, it is vital that maintenance becomes a priority as normal service is resumed to not only ensure efficiency, but also to make sure that no employee or visitor to a site is put in danger. Emerging from a surreal 12 months, there is no doubt that companies will still face challenges, so it is crucial that avoidable maintenance problems do not become one of them, so don’t delay in booking routine checks.  

How HVAC Solutions Could Help Lead The Way Out Of The Pandemic
How HVAC Solutions Could Help Lead The Way Out Of The Pandemic

With the roadmap laid out for the government to guide us out of lockdown, the end of the pandemic seems as though it could be in sight. However, HVAC units remain outdated in hotels, hospitals, schools, and offices and there is a worry that COVID-19 can still spread quickly and easily through air vents, mitigating the effects of lockdowns and vaccinations. Dr. Rhys Thomas, Chief Scientific Officer at infection mitigation specialist PP-L and a frontline NHS doctor, says that the government’s neglect of using HVAC solutions to reduce transmission is a major oversight. Airborne transmission indoors By failing to follow the lead of other nations that are now recognizing the importance of ventilation in relation to the airborne nature of the virus, the UK’s approach hasn’t been as comprehensive or as forceful as it could be, with quietly introduced, piecemeal changes to regulations being too little, too late. At the moment, some governments don’t want to come out and admit that COVID-19 is an airborne hazard and that their failure to recognize it as such has led to higher infection and mortality rates and suffered even greater impacts from new variants. Research shows that 80% of the spread of the virus is through airborne transmission indoors– the inhalation of infected droplets that are moving around in the room’s air currents or ventilation systems– which a two-meter distance or the opening of the window is unlikely to combat. New quarantine hotels The UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one The airborne nature of COVID-19 is what has caught governments off guard and meant we are still playing catch-up while new variants are starting to appear, which was also always to be expected. In terms of preparedness, the UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one, such as the challenge posed by a SARS coronavirus. As with all airborne illnesses, the greatest risk of transmission is indoors and in confined spaces such as public transport, office buildings, factories, and even potentially the new quarantine hotels which are being introduced to prevent the spread of the virus. The governments ‘hands, face, space’ messaging cover the opening of windows to help with airflow, but the reality is much more complex. Latest SARS Coronavirus The risk of infection indoors is vastly higher than outside, and current advice simply isn’t enough. There’s a perception – even in hospitals – that fresh air is clean air. I’ve been shocked to see hospitals that I’ve visited assuming that simply opening a window is enough. That is simply not the case – the air needs to be disinfected by ultraviolet light for it to be clean enough to prevent the spread of coronaviruses. I saw this in practice in the first SARS pandemic in 2003, where UV was used and proved incredibly effective in South East Asian hospitals once again against the latest SARS Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The spread of the virus around the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which hit global headlines in January 2020 when more than 700 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19, has become a case-in-point for the theory behind the airborne transmission. Killing airborne contaminants Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation Researchers from Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a computer model of the cruise ship outbreak, which found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air. The research added to the pressure already being placed on the World Health Organization to recognize the airborne dangers of the virus, including an open letter signed by more than 200 experts. The key point here is that there has been some level of recognition from various government departments that the virus is airborne, and they have mitigated accordingly. Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation, and the Health and Safety Executive’s COVID-Secure Guidance for the Workplace on Ventilation has also been quietly updated in recent weeks to recommend the use of ultraviolet air filtration systems, which are proven to kill airborne contaminants. Key communication issue These UK regulations are now, at last, starting to get more aligned to other global institutions’ recommendations such at the renowned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who support the importance of ventilation and UV devices to significantly reduce infection risk. This is a positive step, but the key communication issue is that if the government don’t fully endorse and be more vocal about the airborne threat of COVID-19, and regulatory changes being made, then neither will the wider public. This is a huge issue because the government is already preparing for this virus to be around in some form for many years to come. With 40 million doses of vaccine set to arrive in 2022 and an overall supply line that is set to last until 2025, it’s clear that there is an acknowledgment that this will be a long fight. The SAGE scientists like Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are also referring to this virus as endemic now. Long-Term readiness The government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers With 407 million doses of vaccine on order, the government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers, but without the acknowledgment of the airborne risks, this can only do so much – it needs to be a joined-up, blended approach. Prevention is better than the alternative because in this case, there is unlikely to be a cure for a virus that spreads and mutates at the rate this one does. Trying to keep ahead of this virus is a dangerous game. It is incredibly adaptable and there is an awful lot of guesswork about predicting the spread and virulence of new and more easily spread strains. Ongoing lockdowns are simply not an option and are increasingly ineffective as people struggle with the monotony and isolation they bring. We need to get on the front foot and not only rely purely on medicine to help solve this crisis. Air filtration systems Engineered solutions like UV-C (also known as UVGI) and air filtration systems are needed wherever possible to help cut this virus at the knees and stop transmission in the first instance. These solutions are now being brought in by several industries and many countries around the world are specifically recommending them because they are recognizing that the guidelines in their current form aren’t doing enough. Those industries such as food manufacturing and production that rely on having people on the ground and in their factories are having to look beyond what they are advised and finding solutions that actually do work. Hospitals, schools, and hotels are the next places that need to be looking at this kind of response, especially with the government’s travel regulations meaning that potentially infected travelers are being kept in potentially inadequately ventilated spaces that could actually accelerate contagion spread to other travelers or staff. Action needs to be taken now, or we risk the further unnecessary spread of this dangerous pathogen.

Change Environments Not Behaviors: How Active Air Filtration Can Help the UK Come Out of Lockdown Long-Term
Change Environments Not Behaviors: How Active Air Filtration Can Help the UK Come Out of Lockdown Long-Term

According to the latest statistics, Britain now has the highest daily COVID-19 death rate in the World, following an unfortunate record month of fatalities during January 2021. While UK Government is quick to defend this statistic, the fact remains that our country has been crippled by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and now, as the population battles through yet another lockdown, it seems that the only 'way out’ is through widespread vaccination. impact of COVID-19 Though imperative, this strategy emphasizes the real challenge that Governments across the globe have faced in trying to control this virus; that reducing the transmission or ‘R rate’ is reliant on the behaviors of people. People who have lived with some form of restrictions for too long, people who are frustrated and tired of the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses, and people who have simply lost trust in Government U-turns and last-minute decisions. What’s more, despite the best efforts of millions to comply with restrictions, the virus itself is one that is hard to contain, particularly with asymptomatic cases unknowingly passing it to others in key locations like supermarkets or via public transport. Regardless of this challenge, there is a solution that doesn’t rely on changing people’s behaviors, but rather in changing the environment in which people live, work and socialize. That solution is the implementation of Active Air Purification Technology. What Is Active Air Purification Technology? Active air purification technology is effective in every cubic cm of indoor air and surface space simultaneously and continuously Most air purification technologies are passive in that they can only have any effect when the air containing the pollutant comes into close proximity or passes through the unit. Examples of this are filtration, UV-C, and various PCO and ionization technologies. In other words, certain operational conditions must be met in order for them to be effective. Active air purification technology is not limited in this way and is effective in every cubic cm of indoor air and surface space simultaneously and continuously. This means pollutants, like viruses and bacteria, are instantly treated no matter where or when in the indoor space they are emitted or exposed which is significant in the context of COVID transmission. Whether required to mitigate microbials, allergens, or dangerous gases and VOCs, active technology offers a unique solution to destroying microbials instantly, offering a safer, cleaner, and more effective approach to air purification in domestic, commercial, and industrial environments. REME Air Purification Technology REME is an active air purification technology developed and patented 15 years ago by RGF Environmental Group, a COVID critical environmental innovator and manufacturer headquartered in the United States. Using no chemicals or harmful substances, REME comprises a number of known air purification technologies and sciences in one product. Its active capability works by producing and maintaining similar concentrations of hydrogen peroxide molecules as those found in the outdoor air and combines a process of bipolar ionization. When coming into contact with microbials, the naturally occurring ionized molecules break them down, destroy them and then revert them back to harmless water vapor and oxygen. The bipolar ionization effect causes other airborne particulates to agglomerate together causing them to become larger and heavier and drop out of their air or get captured in HVAC filters. RGF’s REME air purification technology produces 1 quadrillion ionized hydrogen peroxide molecules every second, quickly and safely killing any airborne virus or bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2 on a continuous basis. Its effectiveness has been verified by nationally accredited independent labs and testing bodies in the US and by other governments in numerous tests over two decades, with results also confirming a 99%+ inactivation for highly infectious viruses and bacteria, such as H1N1 or ‘Swine Flu’, SARS, Norovirus, MRSA and Bird Flu, just to name a few. Vaccinate Environments And People Air purification technology drives down the R rate for good by effectively vaccinating the air in which the virus circulates In understanding exactly how active air purification technology works and its capability to successfully destroy COVID-19, it’s clear that it presents an opportunity to drive down the R rate for good by effectively vaccinating the air in which the virus circulates. This strategy is already working its way through the United States with leading brands, like restaurant chain TGI Friday, installing active air purification technology across all establishments and has also caught the attention of renowned insurance market, Lloyds of London, which has installed the technology across all UK offices to ensure its 5,000 plus staff members can return safely to work. Improving the environment For nearly 12 months the world has been coping with COVID-19, describing it as an ‘unprecedented period’ where there is no clear end. However, in vaccinating both people and the environment in which it lives, the virus can be controlled once and for all. Ultimately, with a crippled economy, in excess of 100,000 deaths and a generation of children impacted by the closure of schools, now is the time to accelerate response and change the environments in which the virus circulates, not just the people. 

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