We can safely say that 2020 was a strange year, where we all adjusted to the 'new normal' of wearing masks, carrying sanitising equipment, washing our hands more frequently, disinfecting surfaces, keeping a 2m distance and of course, working from home.
Many employees haven't stepped back into their office or workplace since March 2020 as it has been difficult for employers to ensure staff safety, in particular, with regards to clean airflow.
In our article, we uncover how clean the air is in your office and outline recommendations on how companies can get incorporate clean air systems, getting their staff back to the office safely in 2021.
How contaminated is the air in offices?
Imagine you are working in a tower block in London, and in the same building as you, there are 49 other offices over several floors. In your office, there are 50 people who work there, including you. Say for instance, the same amount of staff are also in the other 49 offices, this equates to 2,500 people (50 offices x 50 staff members) within a single tower block, all working and breathing in the same air as you. This is where the problem of ventilation arises, and what if 10 staff members over the tower block are poorly, suffering from a common cold or flu-like symptoms? Again, that same air is recirculated throughout the building, meaning that healthy staff members can breathe in contaminated air, increasing the risk of them becoming poorly too.
How is the air circulated within offices, and what are HVAC systems?
Now, you should all know the basics of science, we breathe in air into our lungs, inhaling oxygen which moves from your lungs to your blood. Working in tandem, carbon dioxide (CO2) moves from your blood to the lungs and is breathed out. This process is repeated and is essential to life.
Most buildings, including tower blocks, have HVAC systems installed. HVAC is responsible for the heating and cooling of a building and is short for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. HVAC units include boilers, air conditioning units, ducts and moisture vents and heaters. HVAC systems are designed to replace all the air in a building every 20 to 30 minutes by pumping in fresh air from outside, and pumping out used air outside.
Going back to our tower block example from earlier, this means that 2,500 people are inhaling and exhaling the same air that is being pushed around by these HVAC systems, and fresh air is only pumped in every 20 to 30 minutes. This delay in pumping fresh air into offices is the main cause of concern as to why it isn't safe for employees to go back to work. However, there are a couple of recommendations we have outlined below which aid airflow safety in offices.
What are the recommendations for cleaning air within offices?
Ventilation is key. Employers need to ensure fresh flow of air into offices so all employees can breathe in clean air. It is advised by medical officers and scientists that ventilating rooms, i.e. opening windows and introducing clean air systems, is essential to blowing away airborne germs, thus reducing the spread of infection.
Ventilate offices with Germicidal UVC Air Purifiers
You may have heard, or know about, 'UVC light' over the past year but may not realise that these type of germicidal UV lights can be integrated within office settings to disinfect the air against airborne germs and bacteria.
Germicidal UVC Air Purifiers feature ultraviolet light, UVC rays, which are known for destroying germs and bacteria on surfaces, in water and the air. The UVC wavelength is between 100 to 280 nanometres, deemed best for breaking the DNA bonds that hold bacteria and germs together, stopping them from growing, multiplying and spreading. UVC light technology has been used for over 100 years, typically within water treatment and medical practices as a means to treat water and sanitise surfaces.
These Air Purifiers work by drawing in the air through filters, which capture fine particles and odours, before the air is UVC disinfected with a built-in germicidal light. UVC Air Purifiers, such as our Oxi model, destroy airborne germs to an effective rate of 99.91%, making them an attractive solution to businesses wanting to get staff back to work by installing safe air cleaning systems. The Oxi purifies the air using dust and particle filters made up of cotton (>PM20), HEPA (PM2.5), activated carbon and cold catalyst, before passing through a UVC lighting chamber to disinfect the air.
Some UVC Air Purifiers even display the air quality within your office, so that you can continue to monitor and clearly see how clean the air is in your office. The Oxi UVC Air Purifier does just this, and with its neat traffic light display, you can instantly view if your office air quality is poor (displayed in red), moderate (displayed in yellow) or excellent (displayed in green).
If, for instance, your office air quality is poor, the red light will illuminate, and the Purifier will work hard to clean the air using built-in twin, turbo fans. Of course, a window can additionally be opened to encourage a clean flow of air, speeding up the process.
They are simple to use (plug in and go) and don't take up much space with options including desktop and wall mounting. UVC Air Purifiers can be controlled via a remote control, for hands-free operation. Additionally, some units can be portable, with wheels or compact enough to take with you, and most importantly, they should be cost efficient and not cost the earth.
UVC Air Purifiers are highly effective and we are expecting to see a boom of these purification systems placed into offices and other working environments over the next couple of years. They are particularly useful for offices who do not have windows or fresh air supply, as the Purifier will continue to UVC-disinfect the air.
Ventilating offices with fresh air
Ventilating offices and installing UVC Air Purification systems can work in tandem with each other. Ensuring a constant flow of fresh air into office spaces will help alleviate airborne germs by carrying these particles out of the room. If you are in a single storey office, a front door could be kept ajar, along with windows, to let air in.
To summarise, ventilation is key to ensuring a constant clean airflow in offices. Businesses must do more to improve air quality and airflow within their offices by implementing UVC Air Purifiers to destroy airborne germs and bacteria.
To learn more about the Oxi UVC Air Purifier, click here