We have learned in the last year that things are not as clean as we originally thought they were – especially our air. Employees are starting to return to work the conversation around indoor air quality is growing. Below we will discuss how to improve office air quality, how viruses like Covid are spread, and whether your office needs an air purification system.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are a few ways to help naturally improve the quality of air in your shared office space.
• Keep the office clean
• Add office plants, but make sure someone is looking after them as plants can easily bring in other allergens like mold
• Keep air vents open and unblocked
• Maintain good humidity between 30 and 50 percent to keep dust mites, mold, and other allergens under control
• Let fresh air in by opening windows and keeping doors open to create a larger space
• Get an office air purifier
• Change air filters in AC units or HVAC units
• Start desk sharing with employees to lower total employees in the office (wipe desks between each employee!)
The best way to actually clean office air is with an air purifier. Air purification units use systems to kill germs and bacteria.
Understanding How Viruses Spread in The Office
When someone who has a virus coughs, sneezes, or exhales they release mucus or water droplets from the mouth or nose. These droplets are considered the biological matter and are called bio-aerosols in the medical industry. Once fluids fall on shared surfaces a person who touches the object needs to also touch their nose, mouth, or eyes to catch the virus.
Droplets can be breathed in, but this usually happens within one meter of the infected person. This transmission style is common for the flu, COVID-19, and the common cold.
Now that we understand how easily the cold and flu spread we can start lowering office sick days and decrease potential absenteeism by keeping employees healthy.
Using an Air Purifier in The Office
Air purifiers help clean office air from biological matter floating around by killing viruses and bacteria at a per-hour rate. People breathe in an average of 11,000 liters of air a day.
Air purification units are measured by how many air changes per hour (ACH) are completed and by percentage of particulate removal by the filtration and purification process.
The difference between a home air purifier and a professional unit
The major difference between an at-home air purification system and an industrial air purification system is the square footage the system can cover and the filtration levels within the system.
Air Changes Per Hour (ACH)
Each air purification unit will have a specific amount of square footage it can clean. The square footage refers to how much air can be changed per hour. If you are unsure what sized system your office may need here is a calculator to help.
At-home air filters will have two or three filtration steps depending on the unit. Commercial air purification units tend to have more filtration steps. For example, the Pura Air Purification medical grade system has four distinct filtration steps
- UV-C chamber — germicide breaks apart germs and bacteria
- Carbon filter — removes gas like cigarette smoke and natural gas
- MERV 8 Pre-filter for HEPA — secondary filter for any particulates
- Medical grade true HEPA filter — catches particles as small as .03 microns
Respiratory droplets are an average of 5 to 10 microns in size.
The Difference Between Your HVAC System and an Air Purifier
An HVAC system is built for heating and cooling an office. You can retrofit an HVAC system to also have a more efficient level air filter however, this air filter will only catch large particles and will not clean the air of smaller particles. Higher level filters (MERV 8 and up) also need more air at a higher speed to push the air through these high efficiency filters, which often upsets the system. In addition, HVAC systems do not handle the high traffic areas within a building, they look after the building envelope as a whole. We know places where people gather have a higher risk of aerosol transmission. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a set number of air changes per hour. An HVAC system often re-uses 80 % of the air and can only handle a quarter of the CDC’s recommended air changes.
A medical-grade system like the Pura Air Purification System is designed to turn the air to CDC recommendations and eradicate all biological matter in the air it cycles using a UV and HEPA filtration system combination that is proven to leave the air cleaner.
Should Your Office Get an Air Purifier
According to Mercer Canadians lose approximately $16.6 billion dollars in productivity per year due to employees calling in sick. Providing clean office air helps improve sick calls by lowering transmission rates. More than 54% of Canadians are afraid to return to work.
Air purification is the first step in making employees feel comfortable and confident when working in the office. If you have any questions regarding your office air or the air purification systems available contact an air purification specialist at Pura Air Purification.