Indoor Air Quality has been a hot topic over the last 18 months of the pandemic and rightly so, but it has also been as divisive as politics in the wide and wild claims of solutions and magical panaceas.
In biology, a pathogen in the oldest and broadest sense, is any organism that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a germ. The term pathogen came into use in the 1880s.
It is largely pathogens that make us "ill", such as viruses, bacteria, fungal spores and the most effective way to deal with these is to inactivate them with UVC. "Particulate"; relating to or in the form of minute separate particles. "particulate pollution" This is largely an external environmental calamity and needs to be dealt with by improved environmental activities but it can be mitigated with HEPA or Merv filters at the air entry point to a building's mechanical ventilation system, "If it has one". These filters can also create environmental damage with increase energy consumption and carbon emissions and only trap pathogens and do not guarantee inactivation. Generally Pathogens do not enter through primary ventilation systems, they are spread locally i.e. personal transfer from lungs exhaling pathogenic contagions for others to inhale.
All pandemics and modern endemic contagious diseases are created by PATHOGENS not particulates. Covid19, SARS, Measles, Chicken pox, MRSA, Influenza etc are all pathogenic and airborne. To select the best treatments you need to understand the real threat.
Indoor COVID-19 exposure risk same at 6, 60 feet, *MIT researcher says Gabrielle Masson. "People who maintain 60 feet of distance from others indoors are no more protected than if they socially distanced by 6 feet, according to a peer-reviewed study published April 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America.
Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Martin Bazant and John Bush, PhD, developed a model to calculate indoor exposure risk to COVID-19 by factoring in the amount of time spent inside, air filtration and circulation, immunization, variant strains, mask use, and respiratory activity such as breathing, eating or talking. "We argue there really isn't much of a benefit to the six-foot rule, especially when people are wearing masks,"
Mr. Bazant told CNBC. "It really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room so you're more exposed to the average background than you are to a person at a distance."
We have all seen many webinars and promotions related to Indoor Air purification during the pandemic and most with claims of health grandeur and technical superiority.
The reality is, it is a multi pronged problem with multi pronged solution required for pathogens, particulates, gasses. If you don't have HVAC like many premises, increased ventilation isn't an easy solution. The over abundance of portable Air purifiers that sit on the floor, will talk about single pass kill rates, multi-filters, Catalysts, Ionizers etc etc but there is still a problem regardless of "empty laboratory" independent tests. The air intake at the bottom is severely obstructed and the outflow at the top creates more dispersion of any contaminants If the air flow in the room is obstructed by furniture, the single pass kill rate or multi filters, catalysts etc will not perform any useful air purification.
To test this theory, please apply your lips to a disinfected table and blow or suck as hard as you can and measure the amount of air passing through the table, before you pass out ! CFD based on published spec of a branded AP with Single pass Kill
Although 100% vertical air mixing between the lower and upper portions of a room is probably impossible to achieve, in most rooms the air is sufficiently well mixed [Beggs and Sleigh 2002]. A number of factors including the following may affect the vertical mixing of air between the upper irradiated portion of the room and lower occupied portion of the room:
• Temperature differential between the supply air and room air.
• Location of the supply diffusers and exhaust grills.
• Mechanical ventilation rate.
• Location of furniture and movement of people.
• Changing environmental conditions
• Use of fans.
In a time of pandemic every one needs to place emotional and technical trust into apparatus that they believe protects them, but many companies embellish their technical data reports grossly misrepresenting capability in real world applications. The data on air purifiers is always quoted on empty room statistics and sold as a soft breeze machine that extracts all particles and pathogens from all corners of a room. This just isn't the case and many £1000s are being wasted on placebo effect of hearing the fans and assuming the best results.
The floor standing unit in this simulation is a branded product and the input data is based on their own published technical information and is running at the slowest speed of 200cfm, but at top speed 350cfm the UVC dosage would be highly dubious and the noise intolerable. The red marker particles show the stagnant air not being drawn into circulation or purification thus potentially toxic or carrying viruses and other pathogens. The sales pitch is always positioning them in the middle of empty rooms that is simply not viable.
Effectiveness of air cleaning devices depends on multiple parameters including the underlying technology, the design of the device, the in-room location of the device, the environment that it is used in and the maintenance of the device. The performance of most devices is based on data measured in idealised controlled environments, and is likely to be different and often lower in a real-world setting (high confidence). Caution should be used when considering idealised performance data stated by a manufacturer.
This CFD show 40,000 marker particles discharged from an AP emitter to then trace the air circulation. The blue particles are moving / velocity and the red particles are the stagnant, particles that cannot be recirculated and DO NOT re enter the air purifier thus holding contaminants and pathogens in the space.
In this case the AP unit like many, have air intake at floor level and emit out of the top.
This room is 72 Sqm but the unit is sold for functionality in 120 Sqm and the branded unit is running at 200 cfm.
Coughs and sneezes act like 'mini atomic bombs' and often exceed two metres, study warns.
Researchers from Loughborough University have warned that coughs and sneezes act like ‘mini atomic bombs’ and regularly exceed two metres.
In their study, the team created a mathematical model which showed that some droplets can fly more than 3.5 metres due to a phenomenon known as buoyant vortex - the turbulent motion of hot, dense air that we eject together with the droplets when we cough or sneeze.
Dr Emiliano Renzi, who led the study, said: “In the majority of our analyses, the predictions made by our model suggest that the largest droplets consistently exceed the horizontal ranges of two metres from the source before settling to the ground.
“In some cases, the droplets are propelled in excess of 3.5 metres by the buoyant vortex, which acts like a mini atomic bomb. (Mirror News paper Shivali Best 09/12/20)