Which Air Purifiers Are Best For Infection Control?
4th Jun 2020
Why A Simple Air Filter Isn’t Good Enough
Most household air purifiers use a basic filter system to capture particles and pollutants in the air. They are not technically advanced enough to cope with infections. No matter how hi-tech these units initially appear, on the inside they rely on filters…and that is their weakness.
These filters are usually made from paper, fibreglass or mesh – and they need changing regularly. That means:
- regular maintenance – and associated downtime
- the added cost of replacement filters – it soon mounts up, especially if you have a lot of machines
- added administration and hassle for your purchasing team
- the worry that your air purifier may not always be working at optimum performance – either because it is approaching or has passed the time to change filters.
Some filters are washable and can be reused but you must be ultra-diligent about your maintenance intervals…and how well you clean them. Not ideal is it? It doesn’t fill you with confidence when you’re dealing with a threat you can’t see.
These simple air purifiers are designed to capture particles such as dust, pollen and cigarette smoke. They’re not very good at protecting you from gases such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or radon that can come from paint, glue or cleaning products – let alone viruses and bacteria.
Even a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) system still relies on a filter, albeit an extremely fine one. It uses fibres that are thinner than a human hair. They are packed so tightly that the filter is airtight; particles crash into it while air is being drawn through the system.
But to deal with viruses and bacteria you need something more powerful – such as ultraviolet (UV) light, ozone or negative ions…
How UV Light Kills Infections
Ultraviolet light takes bacteria apart – literally – at a molecular level. It destroys the nucleic acid bonds that hold together the DNA of viruses and bacteria. They are left unable to function as cells.
For this reason alone, it is a ruthlessly efficient way to kill germs. And there are other good reasons too.
This method – Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) – can kill bacteria that are resistant to drugs. It will rip their molecules apart regardless of how many drugs no longer work on them. And it will do so without you needing to use toxic chemicals.
UV light exists in various wavelengths. There are three main types: UVA, UVB and UVC. It is the UVC light (200-400 nanometres wavelength) that is particularly good at killing viruses and bacteria.
How Ozone Kills Infections
Ozone (aka trioxygen O3) is a gas. And just like ultraviolet light, it destroys bacteria at a cellular level. It does so by attacking the cell wall (it oxidises the phospholipids and lipoproteins). Think of it as micro-organic siege warfare; once that cell wall is breached, the bacterium can no longer survive.
This technology has the added benefit of having a longer germ-killing range than ultraviolet light.
And as hi-tech as all this sounds, medical ozone has been used to disinfect and treat disease for around 150 years so it has quite a track record.
Ozone will kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast and protozoa (single-celled microscopic lifeforms such as amoebae).
How Negative Ions Tackle Viruses And Bacteria
Negative ions work in a different way to UV light and ozone. They do so on the basis of electrical polarity.
Ions are electrically charged atoms or molecules. They are formed when an atom or group of atoms gains or loses an electron. Most air particles have a positive electrical charge. But negative ions – as the name suggests – have a negative electrical charge.
This is rather handy because negative ions are attracted to positively charged particles (such as dust, bacteria, pollen, smoke and other allergens) – and vice versa.
The negative and positive particles bond together and become heavier than the air around them. They fall to the ground or other flat surfaces where they can then be cleaned away.
At the risk of over-simplifying the process, it’s like using negative ions to ‘rugby tackle’ viruses and bacteria then drag them to the ground.
So Which Process Is Best?
Why choose between the three methods? Why not use all three? At the same time!
Specify an air purifier that combines UV light, ozone and negative ions in a tri-pronged assault on viruses, bacteria, mould and airborne impurities.
After all, this is about much more than simply removing malodours from the air. This is about getting to the heart of the problem and stamping out the infections that cause those odours.
Hygenex offers two air purifiers for infection control:
- UVMATIC – combines the power of UV light, ozone and negative ions to destroy viruses (including influenza and coronavirus) and bacteria (including E.coli, salmonella).
- UVMATIC Plus – the mobile version of UVMATIC that can be moved quickly from room to room for a rapid response. With built-in timer, this model can be programmed to disinfect continually or in 10-minute increments.
Get Expert Advice On Infection Control
Find out more about the best air purification systems for your needs. Hygenex is a world-class provider of infection control solutions to the healthcare and social care sectors.
Contact us for expert technical advice on the best infection control solutions for your sluice rooms.