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How businesses can tackle indoor air quality

05 November 2021

Jamie Woodhall is calling on employers to re-assess the effectiveness of their building’s air quality systems, as society emerges from the coronavirus pandemic and workers return to offices.

RECENT RENTOKIL Initial research has shown that workers are concerned about returning to the office without assurances on indoor air quality. A majority (68%) of Brits believe that businesses and employers need to do more to ensure clean air circulates in their premises, while 62% went so far to say that air purification systems should be mandatory in public buildings and education facilities. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that poor indoor air quality is responsible for 3.8 million premature deaths globally, with cross contamination of airborne viruses and diseases 19 times more likely indoors than out. The organisation also advises that Coronavirus, like many other viruses, can be transmitted via aerosols in the air.

The global pandemic has made the delivery of clean, healthy indoor air even more critical for the wellbeing of people indoors. Businesses should look at the air flow and ventilation within their premises, and consider appropriate air purification options to help ensure they are circulating clean indoor air for their employees and customers to breathe.

According to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, businesses are required to maintain working conditions that are safe and without risk to employees, stating that air quality should be at least equal to, but ideally better than, the air outside the building. This has until recently, relied upon adequate ventilation of indoor areas via windows or systems such as ducts and fans or traditional, outdated air purification solutions that may not adequately clean the air.

Air purification technology 

Providing clean, healthy indoor air and reducing the risk of the transmission of airborne illnesses indoors must become a critical consideration for companies going forwards. This means effective use of new air purification technology alongside the air ventilation systems already in place, especially in environments where fresh air is harder to circulate.

Rentokil Initial is distributing VIRUSKILLER technology that decontaminates the air, by not only trapping, but killing airborne viruses, bacteria and fungi using ultraviolet-C (UV-C) technology. It filters dirty air, neutralises toxic air and decontaminates sick air. When independently tested against coronavirus DF2 (a surrogate for coronavirus), adenovirus, influenza and polio, the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of viruses on a single air pass. When independently tested against reference bacteria (klebsiella pneumoniae, mycobacterium tuberculosis, staphylococcus aureus subsp, aureus, streptococcus pneumoniae, streptococcus pyogenes, escherichia coli), the unit was found to kill 99.9999% of bacteria on a single air pass.

Some air purifiers are not effective in the decontamination of viruses, bacteria and mould. UV-C technology provides a photochemical deconstruction of microorganisms which deactivates their reproductive processes ensuring that coronavirus, and other viruses, can no longer spread, before clean, purified air is released back into the room.

Purifying indoor air

Earlier this year Rentokil Initial embarked on what was believed to be a UK sport first, in becoming the Official Hygiene Partner for Saracens Rugby Club. Naturally, we were delighted to re-sign as the Club’s Official Hygiene Partner for the 2020/2021 Greene King IPA Championship season in which the team successfully earned its way back into the Gallagher Premiership.

The return of fans to live sport was long awaited by many and a significant step in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. Our strategic partnership has helped with the ‘Safe Return to Sport’ at StoneX Stadium so fans and players can be assured the stadium is as safe and hygienic as possible. 

Rentokil Specialist Hygiene is one of the Rentokil Initial businesses that is helping the club to minimise air to person transmission. It has provided a bespoke range of disinfection services and products including the installation of VIRUSKILLER air purification technology, which is proven to kill 99.9999% of viruses, including coronavirus. The units also decontaminate the air, by not only trapping but also killing airborne viruses, bacteria and fungi. Due to its filtration process, reactor chamber and UV-C technology, when placed correctly the unit takes control of the airflow in a room, drawing contaminated air in from the ‘breathing zone’ and then releasing fresh, clean air back into the room.
As our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 transmission improved, there is an increased awareness of the need to implement measures to help control the air we breathe in indoor settings. The installation of  UV-C technology in key indoor areas of the StoneX Stadium is providing confidence to staff, players and fans, and setting the benchmark for sports stadiums across the country to follow in providing safe and clean air inside, and hygiene-confidence for all.

Addressing hygiene touchpoints across the premises
We are also providing a range of washroom products and services onsite as the club prioritises the health and safety of its players, staff and stakeholders. Disinfection treatments are tailored to each individual area of the site from the players’ changing rooms, to the stands, the main hospitality concourse, washrooms and club meeting room spaces. This includes the use of electrostatic disinfection, mist blowing space treatment and UV-C lamps. 

We’ve demonstrated how effective the use of UV-C technology is by conducting an experiment growing bacteria on petri dishes. We swabbed a toilet door handle, an office door handle, and also allowed airborne germs to collate on a petri dish on a meeting room table. We then treated the same areas with UV-C, and swabbed again. We then grew the six samples in an incubator for five days to check on bacteria growth. 

The results clearly show that where UV-C light had been applied, there was very little bacteria growth.

The onsite kitchens were also deep cleaned. This has involved the site becoming TR19 compliant, removing the accumulation of grease within extraction systems that can diminish airflow and increase risk of fire. 

TR19 is a recognised standard for measuring grease levels and identifying recommended cleaning frequencies. Rentokil Specialist Hygiene helps commercial kitchens across hospitality and industry reach the cleanliness standards required to be TR19 compliant.

Air purification in the O2

Rentokil Initial is also supporting music venue, The O2 arena. Central to this agreement was the installation of air purification technology. The deal, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, helped provide enhanced health and safety measures at the venue, which welcomed the first live audience in over a year on 11 May for The BRIT Awards – part of the government’s Event Research Programme.

Central to this unique agreement is the installation of air purification technology to help control the air we breathe in indoor settings. This follows updated guidance from the World Health Organization, which has said coronavirus is most likely to be transmitted when in close proximity to other people.

As the official Specialist Hygiene Services Partner of The O2, Rentokil Initial also provided a range of washroom products and services giving visitors the confidence to safely enjoy indoor events at the venue.

According to Brian Lynggaard, operations director, at Initial Washroom Hygiene, the return of fans to live entertainment events represents another significant step in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

"We are proud to be supporting the world’s most popular music venue, The O2 arena, for those lucky fans and frontline workers attending The BRIT Awards," he said. "We hope this event will give confidence to fans, and set a blueprint for venues across the country to follow in providing safe and clean air for their patrons.”

And Liana Mellotte, director, global partnerships at AEG Europe added: “Live entertainment is a truly special and inimitable experience. So many of us have missed live music throughout the pandemic and we are so excited to be hosting an audience once again. We want to assure spectators that by partnering with Rentokil Initial, we are working hard to provide the safest experience possible for fans to enjoy the best live entertainment has to offer. We look forward to once again being able to welcome many more people through our doors in the very near future.”

Jamie Woodhall is UK technical manager & innovation manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene and Initial Washroom Hygiene

For further information, please visit www.rentokil-initial.co.uk