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Improving air quality

How much thought do we give to preventing colds, flu or more deadly airborne diseases such as tuberculosis or Legionnaires’ disease in the workplace?

The CBI/Pfizer Fit for Purpose – absence and workplace health survey 2013 discovered that staff absences cost the UK economy £14bn per year. It also found that the average cost of absence was £975 per employee, and the most common cause of short-term absences are minor illnesses including colds and flu.

While there is no way to avoid an employee picking up a bug from outside of work, there is a way to prevent that infection or virus from being spread within the workplace.

Eliminating the airborne infection is the key to cutting incident rates. Purification technology can remove indoor air pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, mould spores, animal hair, pollen, chemicals, smells and dust mites.

The following technologies can be your front line of defence against infection:

  • High-efficiency electrostatic particle filtration removes microscopic organisms as small as 0.3microns. It can remove allergens and disease-causing micro-organisms including the bacteria and viruses that cause influenza, common colds, tuberculosis, Legionnaires’ disease and C.difficile. In addition, symptoms of allergy, asthma, emphysema, hay fever and chronic bronchitis are alleviated by removing their primary sources, including pollen, fungal spores, dust mites and tobacco smoke.
  • Titanium photo-catalytic oxidation destroys volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and eliminates odours. VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that evaporate at room temperature. They include carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, fumes and odours emitted from paint solvents, car exhaust, pesticides, cleaning fluids, chemicals and alcohol. Photo-catalytic oxidation converts VOCs into benign constituents such as carbon dioxide and water without wearing out or losing its effectiveness. This has huge advantages over chemical absorbents, which can rapidly absorb large quantities of toxic fumes but quickly become saturated and slowly release pollutants back into the air stream.
  • Ultraviolet germicidal air disinfection kills airborne germs on contact and destroys viruses and VOCs too small to be caught by HEPA filters.

For anyone looking to combine these technologies, it is worth noting that ultraviolet with photo-catalytic oxidation can give the highest levels of air purification. As in all systems, it is vitally important the correct level of purification is selected for the job and that filters and systems are regularly maintained to ensure continued effectiveness.

Joe Flanagan is director of The Ingenious Air Company

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