Updated: Feb 3, 2021
The scientific evidence is clear that COVID-19 is an airborne virus, transmitted through aerosols (a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in the air). Good ventilation plays a significant part in the transmission of the virus, but in spaces where ventilation is poor, the application of air cleaning devices has been suggested as a useful strategy by SAGE, the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
The group is clear that the installation of air cleaning devices is not a replacement for ventilation; all occupied spaces must have some level of ventilation to allow people to inhabit the area and also to comply with building and workplace regulations. Ventilation of a space should be reviewed, and ideally improved if possible, before using air cleaning devices as a strategy to clean the air.
Many of the air cleaning technologies available have been tested for their effectiveness against other coronaviruses, but there is little data as yet that demonstrates the effectiveness of the technologies against SARS-CoV-2 live virus.
SAGE has reviewed the air cleaning technologies that are available, considering the potential effectiveness of the technology against other viruses and the principles of virus transmission. They determine:
Devices where the primary technology is based on fibrous filtration or germicidal UV (UVC) are likely to be beneficial.
Ionizers, chemical oxidation, electrostatic precipitation and UVA/UVB all have little good evidence to support their effectiveness, or have no potential as reported by SAGE
Catalytic oxidation (photocatalytic oxidation) is potentially effective if using UVC lamps
Plasma has early evidence of acting against SARE-CoV-2, but no data on live virus
Chemical Sprays show no data explicitly on virus in air
The effectiveness of any air cleaning device is dependent on a variety of factors including the principal technology, the design of the device, the location of the device within the room, the environment that it is used in, and the maintenance of the device.
There may also be some unintended consequences from the installation of a device, for example noise, changes in temperature, emissions that could cause health implications or drafts. In selecting a device, it is important to consider all aspects, not just the potential ability to remove or kill the virus. The SAGE report highlights the potential for reducing transmission of COVID-19, the benefits and the issues.
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The AIRsteril technology combines sterilising, cleaning, and purifying technologies, including germicidal UV light, Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) and a purifying plasma of superoxide ions and optimal ozone. First, it uses internal processes to purify the air, before releasing purified air and Plasma Quatro back into the room to continue working.
It works in as little as 60 minutes, providing ongoing infection management, regardless of how many people there are, where they interact and how they move. Even better, a quantified study found that staff absenteeism fell by 54% over the nine-month study, saving the business over £200,000, most of which was attributed to a fall in respiratory and intestinal illness transfer.
Summary of air cleaning technologies as reviewed by SAGE
The below table sets out the findings by SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, in regard to air cleaning technologies and their suitability for reducing transmission of COVID-19:
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