LEEWAY - The air purification: Preventing particle travel
Airborne transmission can play an important role in the spreading of infectious diseases in indoor environments. The risk is a function of concentration of virus-laden particles and time of exposure. In office environments, workers are potentially exposed to the cloud of particles of their neighboring workers for many hours. It is therefore important to take effective mitigation measures to reduce the risk of infection should one person be a carrier of an infectious disease. An air purification system that embodies the principle of arresting respiratory particles immediately as they are generated shows good promise. This is implemented in the form of an air-purifying desk divider with an air suction immediately above the edge of a computer screen and in front of every desk. By confining the particles exhaled by each person to the workspace of that person, migration of particles is dramatically degreased and this has a high promise for mitigating transmission of infectious diseases in the office environment.
Previous research has established a link between air quality in the office environment and employee productivity. Aspects of air quality that are commonly considered include particles such as dust and pollen, volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, microbial contaminants such as mold and bacteria, carbon dioxide and so on. Official organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency highlight both short term and long-term effects of indoor air quality.
The COVID19 pandemic has brought to attention another aspect of indoor air quality, that of the risk of airborne transmission of diseases. Researchers suggest that small airborne microdroplets has been one of the main routes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Other routes include larger respiratory droplets and direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Lager respiratory particles fall close to where they are expired, and good personal hygiene habits such as frequent washing of hands can mitigate risk of infection by direct contact on contaminated surfaces. Contamination from airborne particles can be mitigated to some extent by the extensive use of face masks, and in many environments, this is considered mandatory. In reality, however, for many people wearing a face mask for long hours becomes uncomfortable and frequently the mask ends up becoming a decorative feature of the neck, or is totally removed when there is no strict reinforcement of the facemask rule.
Even if a colleague has an ordinary cold, some coughing should not be creating fear and panic. It is key that respiratory particles do not travel from one person across the room, because they could be contaminating others in their path. Ordinary air purifiers can make particle spreading worse. Transmission of any type of illness can cause absenteeism and significant loss of working hours.