The most likely scenario for the next 12 months in the United Kingdom is far lower risk of serious COVID-19 illness due to the vaccine. However, there will be big swings in R rates, and there is uncertainty about how effective vaccines will be against COVID variants. The ‘R’ rate is the number of people one infected person will pass a virus on to, on average.
As the scenario plays out, and more companies open for business, issues of indoor air quality will continue to be top of mind. The UK cannot stay in lockdown forever, so the big question becomes: What will happen when R rates rise again?
Significant illness transmission
“People have become far more concerned about building safety issues because we are dealing with a deadly virus that transmits when people don’t realize they have it,” says Andrew Hobbs, CEO and founder of Surrey-based air quality and HVAC specialists Better Indoors.
HAIs, including COVID, are still a major issue in National Health Service hospitals
The guidance of increasing ventilation air changes and using passive systems like filters and UV has been the only mitigation for dealing with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues for many years, yet homes and offices still allow significant illness transmission, says Hobbs. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), including COVID, are still a major issue in National Health Service hospitals in the UK, and R rates generally rise when physical distancing measures are relaxed.
Air purification solutions
“It is because ventilation and passive processes do not destroy viruses at the point of transmission and until we introduce technologies that do, we will always be stuck in this loop,” says Hobbs. Better Indoors works to create the safest possible indoor environments for homes, offices, factories and on transport. Their active air purification solutions destroy viral emissions at the point of transmission – an essential feature for controlling indoor R rates, according to the company.
“We are the UK’s exclusive distributor of unique technology that has been around for over 20 years and is used in millions of applications around the world,” said Hobbs. “This attribute is proving to be a key differentiator as firms race to futureproof their buildings and make their indoor spaces as safe as possible for staff and customers.”
Master exclusive distributor
Better Indoors is a master exclusive distributor to RGF Environmental Inc.
Better Indoors is a master exclusive distributor to RGF Environmental Inc. of the United States, with a territory in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Better Indoors supports agents and wholesalers, providing training and education on how to specify, install and provide aftersales services. They also have a strong relationship with various operating businesses of Volution plc for their ventilation products.
Passive technologies have been strongly promoted, as have ionization-only technologies. Less well promoted have been RGF Environmental’s photohydroionisation (PHI) and Reflective Electro Magnetic Energy (REME) technologies, which have had major impact where they have been installed. Photohydroionisation mimics nature’s air cleaning process indoors by creating an equilibrium concentration of ionized hydrogen peroxide molecules throughout the indoor space.
More effective process
These molecules react with viruses on contact, revert to water vapor and oxygen afterwards, and are replaced with new ones from the units. The process is continuous, safe and effective, says Hobbs. REME units contain an additional process of bipolarionization for particulate agglomeration also. Products include in-duct, in-AC units and standalone, plus individual units containing individual technology pieces to complement existing infrastructures.
Our technology is the safest for COVID and every single future virus that comes along"
Not all potential technologies have been tested in the fight against the novel coronavirus. If they had, the resulting guidance should include technologies that kill the virus at the point of transmission, which are safe and proven with millions of users. “Our technology is the safest for COVID and every single future virus that comes along,” says Hobbs. “You cannot get a safer more effective process than one that kills a virus at the point of transmission that is not dependent on the actions of behaviors of anyone or anything.”
Offering maximum protection
“We have learned the main route for viral illness transmission is in the air,” says Hobbs. “It is therefore essential that we future-proof our buildings and indoor spaces to the best extent possible so they offer maximum protection for when the next deadly pathogen comes along but also to minimize common illnesses going forward. The best possible protections come from IAQ processes that physically destroy viral emissions at the point of transmission rather than relying on moving it somewhere first like all filter and UV processes.”
There are very few testing techniques that properly test certain technologies"
One of the biggest misconceptions in IAQ is the difference between whether a particular passive IAQ process actually works and the limitations of how it works, Hobbs notes. “This is constantly misrepresented, misunderstood, and there are very few testing techniques that properly test certain technologies.”
Technologies under consideration
For example, the effect and performance of UV technologies are significantly limited by line of sight, inverse square law and dwell time, but this is rarely if ever mentioned, he adds. “Yes, it works but only if certain severely limiting conditions are met,” says Hobbs. “Furthermore, the industry-accepted testing metrics are designed for passives and not active systems, and this needs to be addressed also.”
None of the other new technologies under consideration, such as Far UV, will be able to destroy the virus at the point of transmission because of their already known physical limitations. “We have been arguing for months that our active technology must be made mandatory for indoor spaces because it is the only method that can stop R rate rises regardless of which variant we have,” says Hobbs.