As Coronavirus vaccines are being distributed across the country, businesses of all sizes are planning how to reopen responsibly. One of the biggest challenges facing any business is maintaining safe air quality. The good news is that there are options. The best solution for your business will depend upon factors such as business type, your HVAC system, budgetary concerns, and more. In this post we’ll look into the various ways in which you can keep your office air clean during Covid-19.
The Importance of Clean Air and Sanitized Surfaces
Simply put, you’re much more likely to contract the Covid-19 virus through airborne droplets than surface contact. Droplets include anything expelled from someone breathing, sneezing, or coughing. According to the CDC:
“The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.”
Many companies are putting a lot of effort into surface disinfectant. They are spending resources repeatedly wiping surfaces down after each use. While these safety precautions do have an impact, it’s really airborne contamination that should be the focus. Airborne respiratory droplets are why masks and 6-foot social distancing measures have been the primary means to slow the spread. These precautions are relatively cheap and inexpensive. But they do not disinfect, and not everyone adheres to these protocols.
Disinfecting Airborne Virus Through ULV fogging
One of the most immediate and effective measures to combat airborne virus is via ultra-low-volume (ULV) cold fogging. Electric ULV fogging machines disperse hospital-grade disinfectant into the air as tiny particles. The vapor-like disinfectant lingers in the air for a time, killing airborne viral pathogens. Eventually the forces of gravity allow it to settle onto surfaces.
ULV fogging can be deployed as a proactive or reactive safety measure. However, it can be pricey. It’s best utilized in situations where there’s been a suspected or confirmed positive exposure. Fogging must be done while a facility is completely unoccupied. After the fogging is complete it is recommended to wait at least an hour before reentering the space. An important thing to keep in mind is that fogging is not an ideal solution for all types of facilities. Below is a list of businesses that need special preparation, or other accommodations before utilizing fogging.
- Restaurants: the disinfectant can land on food, food prep tools, materials and surfaces. Prep work must be done to protect these surfaces in advance.
- Manufacturing: valuable property such as exposed electrical equipment, machines and textiles can be negatively affected.
- Plant Nurseries: sensitive plants could be harmed if too much disinfectant is absorbed into it’s soil.
- Hospitals, nursing homes, animal hospitals: logistically, clearing these facilities in a safe manner can be challenging.
Other Ways to Keep the Air in Your Business Clean During Covid-19.
Disinfecting through fogging might not be within the budget. Here are some less expensive ways to help improve the air circulation and filtration in your business.
Consider upgrading your HVAC system’s air filters and change them out more often. Some businesses will use less expensive air filters to reduce air restrictions in the system and improve airflow. Additionally, they’ll only change them out once or twice a year. Problem is, those cheaper filters don’t filter out small particles. So any contaminated droplets that go through the HVAC system are just recirculated someplace else. In essence, the airborne virus can travel throughout the building even though the asymptomatic, infected person was only working in a certain area. (Not good!)
Install Portable air purifiers. Having smaller, portable air filters running can help cut down on the spread of airborne virus. This can supplement your HVAC system. Air Purifying machines can be rented or purchased. But do your research. Some units provide more protection than others including charcoal and HEPA filters. It’s also a good idea to evaluate the availability of replacement filters and how often they need to be changed out. Typically the less expensive the filter unit is, the more expensive the replacement filters are. Some can be anywhere from $30 to $100 per filter. If the recommendation is once a month, that can quickly add up.
Bring in fresh air from outside. No, really. Even with a great filtration system running, it’s still a great idea to bring in outside air. In any space, air can become stale and contaminated with different particles. Bringing in fresh air to circulate throughout your offices can make your work environment safer for everybody.
Stay safe and optimistic. From the team here at BCS, here’s to 2021 being a better year for everybody! If you have any questions, our service consultants are always happy to help. #askaserviceconsultant