Environmental Sanitation: the air needs to be purified too
The easing of lockdown and the move into a new phase during which commercial establishments (bars, pizzerias, restaurants and hotels) gradually reopen, has put the spotlight on the importance of careful and accurate sanitisation of spaces and on the need to ensure that air is clean and that does not pose a risk to people’s health.
The Environment and Air Quality Work Group of the ISS (Italy’s National Health Institute) addressed this issue recently with the publication of its ISS COVID-19 Report, providing interim indications for prevention, and for management of indoor spaces in relation to the transmission of Coronavirus.
The sanitisation of a space is aimed at bringing down the microbial load to within permitted hygiene standards.
In this period of emergency, it is recommended that forced ventilation systems be kept in operation 24 hours a day, to increase the level of protection.
However, as Stefania Verrienti, national secretary of Afidamp explains: “You have to pay particular attention to air ducts and conditioning systems, which require more thorough maintenance and cleaning, and in the case of systems that have been closed down the recirculation circuit needs to be excluded, as suggested in the guidelines recently issued by the National Health Institute in its “ISS COVID-19 n.5/2020 Report”.
Francesca Romana d’Ambrosio, president of AiCARR (the Italian Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Association) also highlights the fact that “a good ventilation and air-filtering system is able to reduce the concentration of those particle contaminants that act as a vector for bio-hazardous agents, which are always present in all environments.”
How to purify the air
The science currently tells us that Coronavirus is not transmitted through the air but through droplets emitted when people speak, cough or sneeze. If these droplets were to remain suspended in the air then this kind of transmission might be possible. Hence the need to “purify” it in order to capture a portion of the airborne virus particles. So what system should be used? One of the most widespread right now involves the use of ozone. This is a sanitising procedure that must be carefully carried out by a professional, because ozone can be harmful in excessive quantities. “In general we recommend an ozone input of between two and four hours depending on the size of the spaces,” says Giacomo Sestucci, head of the clean-up sector of CAF, the Florence-based cooperative that deals with the removal of asbestos and now also of Coronavirus. “The room is sealed off and the gas also reaches those areas that are not easily reached with disinfectants.” This means that there can be no one in the room (except for those carrying out the sanitisation procedure, suitably kitted out with protective equipment).
However, there is also now a completely innovative air sanitisation system that can be used round the clock, even with people present.
“Our system,” says Maurizio Fantini, sales manager at Frigor Box International, “is based on the physical phenomenon of ionisation. When we talk about ions in relation specifically to air, we mean negative oxygen ions, which are also known as anions. Because our ioniser system operates at room temperature, it produces extremely low quantities of ozone, which are immediately transformed into oxygen as well as into negative ions. Plasma (ionised air) acts on surfaces at a molecular level of particles, preventing hazardous agents, viruses and bacteria from feeding and thus eliminates them. This sanitisation process produces excellent results even after just a few hours, giving a guarantee of safety by going to work on any new threats that arise over the course of the day.”