Common cold and flu remedies get passed down from generation to generation. From grandma’s chicken soup recipe to ginger & honey in tea, there are plenty of home remedies in every household. But some flu viruses are more serious, and one needs a strong defence mechanism. Viruses ranges in size from 20-400 nanometer that is equivalent to 0.02-0,4 micrometer.
Maintaining a good level of hygiene and covering the mouth with a mask are good ways to stay protected but is this enough? There are vaccinations available for some viruses and for others not. The ones where no viable vaccine has been found are more difficult to control and in combination with high infection and mortality rate these can become severe and very difficult to manage pandemics. WHO (World Health Organization) have declared alerts and outbreaks many times in the history due to deadly virus infection and here are few note worthies; In February 2003, Severe Acute respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed about 1 in 10 people affected. In 40 years of occurrence, Ebola virus has killed 25% to 90% of those infected. Coronavirus (COVID-19) that started in 2019, have more than 200,000 reported cases and this number been growing.
Millions of viruses dawdle in the air and the surfaces that can easily be transmitted with a simple contact. Bodily fluids like saliva or mucus can get dispersed into air as tiny droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. According to scientists, coughs and sneezes can travel several feet and stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes and virus on surface can survive up to four hours at room temperature. Also, airborne transmission through small particles (< 5 microns), which may stay airborne for hours and can be transported long distances. In some cases, virus can spread through ‘zoonosis’ where the host carrying the virus is an animal.
Maintaining a hygienic and sanitary environment along with protection from those infected are vital as the virus thrives in contaminated conditions. One health worker quoted during Ebola virus outbreak that ‘we are fighting forest fires with a spray bottle’. It is true as the whole system gets affected and battling the damage at the hospital is not enough. We need to reduce the risk of infection at an individual level.
Viruses are usually spread through microorganisms that become airborne. Indoor air contains the most contaminants as it confined and has no space to escape, and air is recycled causing the infections to transmit. Hence, it is more likely to catch infections indoor.
HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate) have been proven over decades across a wide range of healthcare facilities and life sciences applications, controlling the spread of airborne particles and organisms such as viruses and bacteria.
Indeed, many professional engineering organisations recommend HEPA air filters in hospitals, infection control clinics and other healthcare facilities to eliminate microbes and other dangerous particles.
The efficiency of HEPA filters is measured at MPPS (most penetrating particle size) that means this is the lowest efficiency of the filter. For smaller or larger particles that filter will perform even better. MPPS is typically between 0,1-0,2 micrometer in size. Bacteria and viruses are often smaller than that but typically attach themselves to larger particles. It’s also important to understand HEPA filters do not actively kill living organisms. They capture and hold them within the matrix of the filter.
High efficiency air filters can be installed in HVAC systems, filtering out biological pollutants and particulate matter carried by the airstream, preventing them from recirculating back into the room. As unfiltered air flows through the HVAC unit’s ductwork, the air filter captures and holds the airborne pollutants.
So, for an extra layer of protection from airborne pathogens, consider fitting appropriate HEPA filters.
In HVAC units, ventilation system extracts the dust particles, chemical contaminants and harmful virus and bacteria along with other toxic particles. But they do have to go somewhere. Some of this matter gets caught up in the filters or duct-work or elsewhere and remains there. This is bad and can cause serious health risks. To avoid any obstruction, cleaning and maintaining the ventilation system is ideal. Clean system in good working and hygienic conditions will help clear out toxic particles from the air. In case of an outbreak the first step should be to look if the filters are old and have captured lot of dirt (organic material that could support mold growth). It is recommended to switch to fresh and clean filters immediately and at the same time looking for a possibility to upgrade the filter class. Another good thing would be to check the status of gaskets and other seals to ensure that any by-pass air is eliminated. Depending on the kind of unit and its functionalities it can be done by the professional in different ways. Most critical or high-risk application units use bag in & bag out technique that is performed by an expert as no contact with the filter needs to be made in order to contaminate the pathogens and harmful particles.
Camfil’s clean air solutions help to eliminate infectious airborne contaminants in the healthcare and microbiological sectors.