Why air matters in 2021

28 April 2021

AIRDRI HAS provided insight into technology, such as that found in the range of SteraSpace air sanitation units, which have been showing extremely positive results.

A team of international scientists have called for ‘workplaces, healthcare facilities and education providers to pay greater attention to the cleanliness of the air in their buildings’ after a British Medical Journal study revealed more about how viruses are passed from one person to another.

The team, which includes internationally renowned microbiologists and engineers, also stated: "The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 after touching surfaces is now considered to be relatively minimal,” concluding that reducing the opportunity for airborne transmission is one of the best ways to keep viruses at bay.
The Government’s public information advertisements have throughout the pandemic advised us that, we should “open the windows and let fresh air in to blow COVID-19 particles away”. 
Yet there are more ways to achieve fresher air than opening windows.
Efficacy data released by the firm demonstrates that airborne microorganisms are reduced by up to 98% within an hour of the units being switched on. And one company that installed a unit in its call centre found that absenteeism reduced by 42%.
What is clear is that air quality, is and should be, moving up the agenda for employers hoping to reassure workers of their safety in the workplace. And it’s not just coronavirus that we should be concerned about.

What’s in the air we’re breathing? 
As well as COVID-19, other infectious diseases can spread through airborne particles. These include influenza, measles, mumps, legionellosis, tuberculosis and the common cold to name just a few. And infectious diseases are not the only worry when it comes to what we’re breathing in. 
The World Health Organization attributes 3.8 million premature deaths a year to household air pollution. Conservative estimates put the UK death toll at around 9,000 a year, with Allergy UK stating that the air quality indoors can be up to 10 times worse than outside. Shocking statistics given that we spend 90% of our time indoors (and even more during lockdown).

Indoor air pollution can be caused by gas or microscopic particles from cooking, heating systems, damp and mould, lack of ventilation, chemicals and building materials. 

Those experiencing a dry throat, tickly cough, itchy eyes, runny nose or difficulty breathing when indoors might want to check the indoor air quality. These symptoms have been dubbed by some as ‘sick building syndrome’ and companies are advised by HSE to check the quality of air to protect staff. More serious symptoms of confusion and memory loss have also been attributed to poor indoor air quality.

Scary stuff. So, what can we do to reduce the risk of breathing in dangerous or infectious particles?

Test air quality
There are specialist companies that will test air quality in the workspace for levels of bacteria, fungus, volatile organic compounds, dust, humidity and carbon monoxide.
For smaller spaces or those with lower budgets, air quality monitors are readily available online and will measure for similar contaminants.
Another thing companies can do is create a staff survey to gauge any obvious symptoms caused by air pollution, as well as investigating more obvious causes.

Introduce indoor plants
The main benefits of plants is that they, through photosynthesis, remove CO2 from the air. It’s also believed that plants will have an effect on the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air too – these are emitted from paint and furnishings and can cause all kinds of problems from eye, nose and throat irritation to more serious conditions like cancer from prolonged exposure. Though the jury is out on just how much plants can improve air quality, research into the topic is promising and it’s proven that plants can have positive benefits when it comes to wellbeing too.
Lillies, ferns, Devil’s Ivy and spider plants are widely regarded as the best plants for cleaner air but quite simply, any plants will improve ambience and air quality.

Invest in an air sanitiser
Not to be confused with air purifiers which filter the air and can be very effective in residential settings, an air sanitiser such as the SteraSpace range from Airdri, combines three technologies to emit a stream of disinfecting plasma into the air which effectively removes viruses, bacteria, mould, fungi and odours.
Airdri’s SteraSpace products have been independently tested and found to eliminate 98.11% of airborne micro-organisms in less than 5 minutes, they also sanitise surfaces – where harmful microorganisms will be significantly reduced in less than 15 minutes. 
Able to service areas up to 80m2, there are four units in the range suitable for varying environments, from washrooms, to offices, medical practices, schools, warehouses, factories and care homes. 
Depending on the size of the room, the cost of installing an air sanitisation unit starts at around £250 and then it can be as low as £12 per year to run. 

Keep damp in check
Mould spores are extremely harmful especially to those who suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma or COPD. Good ventilation is key to preventing the cultivation of mould so check ducts and vents for blockages and clean these regularly. 
Dehumidifiers are another way to reduce levels of moisture in the air, which can lead to a build up of mould and mildew. So, if you’re finding you have issues, it might be time to invest.
Keep a cleaning schedule
Regular dusting, hoovering and decluttering will all have an effect on air quality as well as being a requirement to make workspaces Covid-safe.