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Can New Technology Improve Long-Term Indoor Air Quality?

Can new Technology Improve Long-Term Indoor Air Quality?
29 December 2020

As the UK tries to look beyond its latest lockdown, air quality treatments are promising to banish coronavirus concerns for good.

Steve Skerrett addresses the issue of indoor air quality in the UK, particularly in light of the COVID-19, and how renewed interest in this area represents several opportunities for FM. 

Steve Skerrett is the Founding Partner and CEO of BioTech Group, and has a track record of building and scaling businesses in the UK and overseas. Most recently, Skerrett was the Co-founder and Commercial Director of Banca Sistema in Milan, which has a particular focus on working with clients who provide goods and services to the Italian state, particularly in the healthcare sector. Prior to that, he worked for over 25 years at leading Investment Banks, providing advice and services to both government and private sector clients.


"According to the United Nations Environment Programme, indoor and outdoor air pollution is the most urgent environmental health crisis in the world. Exposure to poor air quality is responsible for 6.5 million deaths each year. We look forward to the FM industry using the latest technology to help FMs fight COVID-19 in the coming months and create safer, healthier indoor spaces for all in the long term." 


A Global Concern


Mention toxic air quality and most people will immediately think of polluted cities in China, but the issue is a global concern and affects internal air as much as external. 

“Indoor pollution is a very serious problem and health threat, not just in China but worldwide,” commented Sieren Ernst, Founder of Environmental Consultancy Ethics & Environment. “Most people spend 90 per cent of their time indoors, and the exposures that we are getting from that time remain largely unexamined.”


COVID-19 Puts Focus on Internal Air Quality


It’s time we addressed indoor air quality in the UK, particularly as COVID-19 has recently brought the issue front and centre. Indoor spaces have gone from being places where we gather to work or socialise to areas of potential danger. Instead of looking forward to entering these places, we now view them with suspicion or even dread, understandably concerned about our exposure to a life-threatening virus.


New Air Quality Technology to Combat COVID-19


Fortunately, new technology is now available that can be fitted into air conditioning units, or function independently, to help make indoor spaces safer as part of the response to COVID-19. One of the companies behind this state-of-the-art technology is Clean Air Spaces, which has a long track record treating indoor air pollution in Asia’s most affected cities.

The technology, which will soon be installed in premises across the UK, treats internal air and surfaces with water vapour and hydrogen peroxide, forming ions that circulate continuously and actively to remove pollutants, viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.

The technology releases ions into indoor spaces to actively improve air quality by continuously removing pollutants, in contrast to traditional air conditioning units which require air to circulate around a room before it reaches the unit and is purified, and which do not address surfaces. These ions are safe for humans and help eliminate virus and bacteria cells from both air and surfaces by interacting with their lipid and protein layers. This results in pathogens becoming inactive and losing their capacity for infection, leading to a lowering of the viral load in an internal space. Lowering the viral load of virus cells in the air reduces the extent to which the virus can infect people using the space.


Proven Technology in Asia and Beyond


Over the last five years, this ion-based method for maintaining indoor air quality has become firmly established in Asia, covering over 28 million square metres and improving air quality for CBRE, JLL, Google and Microsoft. The technology has been tested in the US and Asia, and a new test was recently conducted in Europe at the University of Granada Hospital. The latest test demonstrated 99.75 per cent efficiency at eliminating H1N1 cells and over 99.99 per cent efficiency at eliminating other virus cells, including enterovirus and coronavirus, both in the air and on surfaces.


COVID-19 to Remain a Threat in Near Future


Facilities managers and building owners are currently faced with the challenge of how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, so that people feel sufficiently confident to return to their offices. Until now, efforts to instil such confidence have concentrated on restricting building usage and carrying out regular deep cleans. Although these measures are necessary and will help to make places safer, they won’t safeguard them entirely. For that to happen, we need to address poor indoor air quality and its role in spreading COVID-19.

By attacking the protection around viruses, the latest ion-based technology will not only fight COVID-19, it will also be able to combat other viruses and mutations in the future. The system provides continuous disinfection of indoor air and surfaces for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, drastically reducing harmful microparticles. In doing so, the technology prevents illness and infection, but also promotes long-term mental and physical wellbeing, contributing to longer, healthier lives.

Organisations installing this technology can demonstrate to their employees that they’re doing everything possible to provide a safe and healthy workplace. At the same time, they can show their customers that their premises are safe places to visit and that they are providing visitors with all possible safeguards.


Opportunity for FM


The FM industry should welcome this opportunity to demonstrate to a wider audience that there’s more to the sector than simply cleaning and emptying bins. Aside from fighting COVID-19 and other pathogens, this new technology’s software allows FMs and building owners to monitor and view all of their devices remotely in real-time. Environmental monitoring systems can receive alerts and statistics on air quality and integrate with current building management systems to reduce overall energy usage.

The technology boosts employee welfare and wellbeing and reduces sickness rates. Not only will it combat the impact of COVID-19, it will also help to improve the long-term impacts of internal air quality. The technology can directly help to rebuild our economy by protecting employees, customers and residents while they are indoors, and gives FMs a better insight into how air quality is managed in their buildings to prepare for future events where air quality may be compromised.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, indoor and outdoor air pollution is the most urgent environmental health crisis in the world. Exposure to poor air quality is responsible for 6.5 million deaths each year. We look forward to the FM industry using the latest technology to help FMs fight COVID-19 in the coming months and create safer, healthier indoor spaces for all in the long term.  

Picture: a photograph of people meeting in an office breakout area

Article written by Steve Skerrett | Published 29 December 2020


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