As schools return to class after the winter break, specialist HVAC engineering company Nucore Group is urging education authorities to explore new options to reduce energy loss while improving classroom air quality to meet COVID-19 guidance.
Current government advice on limiting transmission levels includes opening windows to increase ventilation. However, that creates its own problems with cold air entering the classroom causing discomfort both to teachers and pupils, not to mention energy losses and associated environmental impact.
Other measures being considered by the Government include air filtration systems or using carbon dioxide monitors to check air quality. However, these do not address the problem of COVID-19 viral transmission at the point of emission and are passive rather than active systems. Furthermore, none of the current Government advice on improving air quality addresses the problem of viral transmission arising from contaminated solid surfaces.
Nucore Group, which provides products and services across multiple public and private business sectors, has called on governments, local authorities and teaching bodies to widen their options and consider an alternative approach which could significantly improve the safety and wellbeing of staff and pupils.
The Aberdeen-headquartered company believes active air purification technology, which destroys the COVID-19 virus upon contact in the air and on all solid surfaces, on a continuous basis, is the most effective way to reduce transmission, giving a much more effective and safer solution for school environments than simply opening windows or using conventional “passive” air filtration systems.
“This type of active system has a distinct advantage over passive systems, which cannot treat the virus until its inside the unit and don’t treat surface contaminations,” says Mike Bryant, CEO of Nucore Group. “Active air purification technology works 24/7 on every cubic centimetre of air and surface space, simultaneously and continuously.”
“One of the issues facing schools is that in many cases, teachers and pupils are unaware that they have coronavirus because they are asymptomatic, and therefore they continue to attend classes, potentially spreading the virus across the wider school community. Identifying how they can reduce the R-rate is a real challenge for schools. Using an active, as opposed to a passive, solution adds an extra layer of safety, by destroying the airborne virus upon contact,” Bryant continues.
“Another benefit of the Nucore active air purification solution is that it is easily installed and simple to operate. It allows you to, ‘open the windows without physically having to open the windows’, thereby providing outdoor air quality indoors, without the downside of creating personal discomfort, increasing energy costs and the associated damaging environmental impact,” he adds.
Nucore’s Indoor Air Quality team believes that technology developed by US-based RGF Environmental is the most effective system on the market. Developed more than 20 years ago, RGF’s technology has always been capable of providing real-time protection against viral transmission and is therefore ideally positioned to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It is already used in over six million applications, including schools, hospitals, hospitality, mass transportation and commercial offices in 60 countries around the world.
Users include Johnson & Johnson, Lloyds of London which has installed the system in all of its buildings across the UK after carrying out its own independent stringent testing and restaurant chain TGI Fridays which has also installed the RGF system in all of its 566 restaurants throughout the USA.
The active air purification technology works by recreating the same process that outside air uses to produce very low levels of naturally occurring H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) molecules. When these molecules come into contact with microbials, they quickly break them down, destroy them and the hydrogen peroxide reverts back to water vapour and oxygen. It is chemical free, and works around the clock, proactively destroying the virus upon contact when it becomes airborne as a result of an infected person breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing in a room, or when surfaces are contaminated by contact.
That means someone could exhale the virus by coughing or sneezing in one part of the room then contaminate a surface on the side by touching it and the treated air deactivates the virus greatly reducing the risk of transmission. The technology is therefore able to meet the need of schools and businesses to return safely to normal operations by providing safer learning and working environments.