Is fogging or UV Plasma air sterilisation the best option for my workplace?


Responsible and also savvy employers will be aware that protecting their staff from infection will be positive for morale and their bottom line, even in normal times workplace absenteeism is very costly. So, investing in additional hygiene measures will doubtless save businesses much more than it costs. But what are the options that do the best job, are safe and cost effective? Find out more below.

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We are now in lockdown 3 and it’s clear that even after a mass vaccination program, covid-19 will remain in our everyday lives.

While some companies are moving permanently to remote working, the majority of employees and employers feel the need to return to work to get collaborating and driving businesses forward once again, so workplaces will need to become super safe spaces.

One of the primary way’s illnesses, including coronavirus, can spread through workplaces is via airborne particles which are then directly inhaled, or can land on surfaces where they colonise and can be transferred into a host via their hands.


Did you know?

A single bacteria cell can multiply to in excess of eight million cells within an eight-hour period. Obviously, cleaners can’t continuously clean each time a person touches a surface so we need technology to support our efforts.

Chemical fogging and air filtration have become popular ways to kill bacteria and viruses in the air and on hard-to-reach surfaces in the age of COVID-19, but what are the pros and cons of each?

Chemical fogging

Chemical fogging, sometimes called ‘smoke-bombing’ is where a fine coating of disinfectant chemicals is sprayed across an entire space, covering all surfaces. Fogging is ideal for larger areas where other types of sanitisation may not achieve full coverage.

You probably all remember the images in Wuhan of huge buildings being dowsed with chemical by something akin to a fire hose.

As the pandemic has progressed, ‘fogging’ has become one of the main ways for organisations to rid spaces of infectious particles. The fine mist reaches into all those difficult to reach nooks and crannies and can penetrate porous surfaces. Another big advantage is that it doesn’t need to be wiped down afterwards.

Fogging is highly effective at removing microbiological contamination. It is a quick and efficient way to kill germs and viruses on surfaces, however it’s a process that needs to be repeated regularly to prevent bacterial and viral regrowth.

Disruption

Effective decontamination of an area using chemical fogging requires the area to be completely free of people until the process has finished. The other disruptive factor is that the area will need to be ventilated for up to 60 minutes afterwards and left empty for a period of up to four hours before employees can return.

It is really important to remember that fogging is not a one-product fits all solution. There are many types of disinfectant product that can be used in a fogging machine and only certain solutions will be effective against certain viruses.

Cost

A fogging service can typically cost £250 per hour, meaning that for large areas with high footfalls, the financial implications will soon mount up.

What about Air and Surface Sterilisers?

Air Sterilisers or Sanitisers such as the new Dryflow Any Room range from Intelligent Facility Solutions Ltd help to control infections by killing bacteria and viruses, mould and fungi on surfaces and in the air. They also improve air quality by removing pollen, pollution, smoke and odours.

These devices utilise technology that produces a continuous flow of disinfecting plasma into the air, generated by combining photo catalytic disinfection, germicidal irradiation and dual waveband UV technology.

Where’s the proof?

The technology has been tested at Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory’s and was shown to kill 98.11% of airborne and 99.6% of surface micro-organisms. The Dryflow Any Room has also been tested by the Health Protection Agency and the efficacy results show that within five minutes 98.11% of airborne viruses were eliminated.


Continuous protection

Air Sterilisers and sanitisers have the huge advantage of being permanent fixtures that provide 24/7 protection and can operate safely while people are present

When it comes to the cost of keeping your workplace safe, the Dryflow Sterilizers are definitely the more cost-effective option – the upfront cost is as little as £290 and cost less than £2 a month to run, with an annual outlay of around £50 for a new bulb.


Are there any other options?

HEPA Filtered Pumps and Fans

You will probably have come across air-purifier systems and maybe thought they were the same as Air sterilisers.  HEPA filters are very effective at trapping micro-organisms in the fine fibres arranged into a matt to intercept particles. HEPA technology can trap many viruses and bacteria but doesn’t eliminate them, it also requires the entire volume of the room to be passed through them to achieve high levels of efficacy. A fan which will generate noise is therefore required and filters need to be changed meaning more maintenance and cost.

Ultra-Violet Light

UV-C emitting lights are very effective at killing bacteria and viruses, the germicidal waveband UV will kill most micro-organisms, however direct contact with this form of UV can be harmful to people therefore direct exposure is not advised. This type of technology is useful for sterilising objects in enclosed cabinets but is limited in is ability to sterilise large areas. It forms part of the Dryflow sterilisers armoury but alone is not enough to keep work spaces safe.

Bleach and other cleaning solutions

The is no doubt that bleach is powerful and can kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, however it requires constantly re-applying to prevent re-colonisation as once it’s used to kill, bacteria settles again straight afterwards. It is also harsh on skin. Small traces of it on surfaces can cause irritation. Bleach erodes many surfaces so can only be used selectively. This approach also only focusses on surfaces and not the sanitisation of the air.

The Verdict

If you are operating facilities where you can’t take even the slightest risk then a combination of fogging, a good cleaning regime and ongoing plasma/UV irradiation sterilisation offers the ultimate level of protection. Fogging offers a quick way of disinfecting a large area, plasma sterilisation offers a way of suppressing bacteria and viruses constantly. For most locations, plasma sterilisation is more practical and affordable that provides ongoing protection at a relatively low cost.

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