The return of office workers presents a new challenge to businesses seeking to protect their staff and visitors from the risks posed by SARS-CoV-2, its variants, and other microbiological hazards. “It’s not as simple as turning up the ventilation, or installing new ventilation,” claims indoor air quality expert Keith Esdon. “Viruses are spread by infected, possibly asymptomatic, people, so it will be necessary to remove infectious particles from expired air when people meet, and that is why we developed Meeting-Air™, a low-cost but high-specification air filtration device that sits in the middle of a meeting room table, drawing air from meeting participants and removing potentially hazardous particles.”
Coronaviruses, and other airborne pathogens, spread when people either inhale infectious particles or touch infected surfaces and then touch their face. Contact transmission can be reduced by frequent hand washing and by treating surfaces with wipes or fogging with disinfectant. Airborne transmission can be reduced by ventilation, but even if these measures are in place, an infected person can quickly contaminate the air in a meeting room.
Following the Covid pandemic it is likely that office staff with cold or flu-like symptoms will stay away from work, so the main risk will be from asymptomatic people. Instead of coughing larger particles, it is likely that these infectious individuals will unknowingly exhale small viral aerosols. Studies of cough aerosols have shown striking similarities in aerosol size distributions, with a predominance of pathogens in small particles (<5 μm), which settle less readily and are easily inhaled.
Meeting-Air has a 360-degree inlet at the base which draws air through 2.8m2 of medical grade (H14) pleated HEPA filter which removes all particles over 0.3µm. There are three speed settings – the two lower speeds are designed to minimise disturbance during a meeting, and a third ‘boost’ speed (up to 250m3/hour) is available for removing excess aerosols before or after a meeting.
Summarising, Keith says: “The Covid pandemic has highlighted the need for microbiological risks to be included in Health & Safety policies, and whilst new disinfection procedures, including hand washing, decontamination routines, ventilation and social distancing will all play important roles; meeting rooms and offices represent an ideal opportunity for disease transmission, unless technology such as Meeting-Air™ is deployed.”