Considering internal air environment post COVID-19

Proline Australia Director Richard Bills spoke with Manufacturers’ Monthly about the importance of state-of-the-art air purification systems that may assist in preventing the spread of viruses including the common cold and COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all sectors of the economy, and governments around the world have taken unprecedented actions to curtail its spread. Despite these efforts, there have been many more than 4 million confirmed cases at the time of writing.

The virus is believed to be more contagious than the seasonal flu and can be transmitted up to 48 hours prior to an infected person developing symptoms. This can have a detrimental impact on staff within businesses and have serious financial consequences to the business itself.

All businesses need to urgently develop appropriate occupational, health, safety and welfare (OHS &W) strategies to allow their workforces to return safely to work.

One such aspect requiring attention is the internal air quality environment. Ventilation is important but can be costly in terms of compensating temperature control and may also result in the introduction of unwanted outside particulates within the workplace such as diesel emissions and pollens etc.

Proline Australia is the National Distributor for Healthway Inc, a highly successful US manufacturer specialising in air purification. It’s patented disinfection filtration system (DFS) technology was developed using a US Government grant to combat germ warfare. The high-energy grid creates a microbiostatic condition that not only captures viruses but prevents micro-organisms from living and growing inside the filter.

Proline Australia Director Richard Bills said DFS technology offered an air purification level that exceeded the standard HEPA 13 filter, commonly used in Australia, by 40 times.

“The HEPA 13 standard requires 99.97 per cent removal of particles down to 0.3 micron,” he said. “Our systems remove 99.99 per cent of particles down to as low as 0.007 micron.

“0.007 micron is smaller than the smallest known virus.” Covid-19 is known to be approximately 0.12 micron, rendering most HEPA based air purifiers ineffective against viruses.

The company offers solutions for all applications from portable units to integration into most existing air conditioning systems.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems alone do little to remove ultrafine particles, according to Bills. “Many air conditioner filters are only designed to remove larger particles, generally 3-10 microns”.

In a recent paper presented by Professor Lidia Morawska, of International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (ILAQH), School of Earth of Atmospheric Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, titled Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality: “Small droplets exhaled by an infected person can travel distances of metres or tens of metres in the air and carry their viral content”, suggesting that adequate control measures be implemented in workplaces via ventilation and air purification.

“Healthway’s DFS filtration has been proven to be 99.99 per cent effective against removing airborne modern flu’s including H7N3 (recently bird flu UK 2006), H1N1 (swine flu Mexico 2009), and H7N9 (bird flu China 2013), so that gives us a lot of confidence that we are in a position to propose a similar rate of removal for COVID-19,” Bills said.

In fact, when COVID-19 was announced, and Wuhan was identified as the originating source, 140 DFS units were installed in Wuhan hospitals to combat the virus.

“With our technology, we’re able to use an open architecture filter, allowing greater air flow and less pressure drop, and yet still removing all types of particulates down to 0.007 micron,” he said.

“Not only that, because of the greater air flow, the filter lasts longer, so there’s less filter replacements, and up to 50 per cent saving in energy compared to HEPA as well.”

Proline Australia currently offers the Deluxe portable model as well as integrated units such as our super V and will soon introduce 2 brand new models, to be released this winter. Larger units generally require a tailor-made solution.

Customers include households, offices, waiting rooms, dental laboratories, medical industry, food industry, gymnasiums,  entertainment venues and the mining sector.

“We’re excited to work with industry to promote these air quality improvement products to workplaces around Australia, greatly improving the workplace environments for benefit of all employees and companies. Our products aren’t sold through retail outlets so any enquiries can be made directly to Proline Australia,” Bills said.