In almost all parts of the world, the closed or restricted places, where people used to freely gather before the COVID-19 era, are going to reopen or ease public entry soon. However, recently in the tenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee (WHO) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it has been clearly stated that “while current vaccines continue to be effective in reducing risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19, they do not completely eliminate the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (all variants).”
Thus, we have to still remain careful about the variants of SARS-CoV-2, or any new types of viruses. In fact, the COVID-19 era was a learning phase for the entire human race. The unexpected and sudden spread of the virus has taught us how much more readiness is required to effectively counter such a natural attack.
Also, as per The Lancet Planetary Health, “Approximately 86% of people living in urban areas across the globe, or 2.5 billion people, are exposed to unhealthy particulate matter levels, leading to 1.8 million excess deaths in cities globally in 2019. Additionally, nearly 2 million asthma cases among children worldwide were attributable to NO2 pollution in 2019, with two in three occurring in urban areas.”
Both studies have been published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal and highlight the ongoing need for strategies to improve air pollution and reduce exposure to harmful emissions, particularly among children and the elderly.
It is said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, accordingly, with such a scary background, many nice products are now coming up around the world to enhance protection against harmful viruses and other air-borne pathogens. Also, they are being deployed very strategically. In the next part of this article, I will present a few of them.
Preparation before reopening a restaurant in Canada
Before reopening, Toronto’s Miller Tavern restaurant is trying something new to fight against COVID-19 to help reassure customers and staff of a safer indoor environment. Of course the idea has flown to them after its success in the US
The Miller Tavern is the first restaurant in Canada to install Aura Air, which has already been successfully deployed at several SUBWAY restaurants, as well as select Sheraton and Hilton hotels in the U.S., and the Vogue Hotel in Montreal. The technology, developed in Israel, uses a four-stage purification process to filter and treat airborne pathogen droplets.
Drawing attention on the technology being deployed, Yehuda Ordower, Managing Partner for Aura Canada, said, “COVID-19 is airborne, therefore, technology is needed to ensure continuous protection against this particular type of transmission. The Aura Smart Air technology includes air quality monitoring and reporting capabilities where, via its app and QR code, users can see IAQ performance in real-time.”
Two independent studies from the U.S. and Israel confirmed the Aura Air system can destroy 99.99% of airborne COVID-19 in the test facility within 60-minutes. The studies were conducted by Innovative Bioanalysis Labs in California’s Silicon Valley; and Sheba Medical Center that was voted one of the top 10 clinical hospitals globally and used Aura Air in its COVID-19 wards & staff rooms since the pandemic started.
Focusing on the trend, Ordower further stated, “Air purification is emerging as an important part of the defence against COVID-19. This is especially true for restaurants and other places where masks need to be removed. But when customers and staff know they are in an environment with a technology proven to remove 99% of COVID-19, this can only be good for business. It could be the way back for the hospitality industry.”
A solution for continuous monitoring
The global climate innovator Trane has introduced new digital Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) management solutions that provide building owners and facility managers with actionable insights for healthier and more efficient indoor spaces and occupants’ peace of mind.
As the company puts it, “IEQ remains a primary concern as people return to offices, restaurants, shopping, and travel and entertainment. Building owners and facility managers are increasingly looking for solutions that help them continuously monitor and verify the status of their indoor spaces to maintain healthy environments.”
As an extension to Wellsphere, Trane’s holistic approach to creating healthier buildings, the new offerings have brought together Trane’s exclusive Indoor Air Quality Assessment services, remote monitoring services, and integrated controls and sensors to diagnose building performance issues; prescribe optimal air quality and efficiency solutions; and automatically adjust HVAC systems based on real-time air quality indicators.
Commenting on the technology, Donny Simmons, President, Commercial HVAC Americas, Trane Technologies, said, “Trane has been bringing deep expertise and leading technologies in building HVAC performance, sustainability and indoor environmental quality for decades. We’re pleased to combine our unmatched building insights and data with new capabilities that keep building owners and facility managers more informed and in control of their air quality and energy efficiency.”
The integrated solutions work seamlessly with smart sensing technologies such as Awair Omni indoor air quality monitoring devices that measure airborne contaminants, including particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide that can impact wellbeing, comfort and productivity. The data-driven insights also support smarter energy usage and air quality monitoring requirements for building certifications, including WELL, LEED, RESET and Fitwel.
Trane’s new Indoor Air Quality dashboard then brings the data to life, enabling building owners and facility managers to monitor, manage and share more information about the indoor air quality within the building. Simple occupant-facing air quality and building performance data bring added peace of mind for people inside the building.
A solution for sensing the environment
Sensirion, an expert company in environmental sensing, has developed an environmental sensor node called SEN5x. The SEN5x environmental sensor node enables accurate monitoring of relevant environmental parameters and provides reports on the levels of common pollutants in the air.
The SEN54 environmental sensor node is a straightforward, all-in-one sensor solution platform for the accurate measurement of various environmental parameters, such as particulate matter, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), humidity and temperature.
The module enables straightforward integration into various applications. This allows device manufacturers to save valuable project time and staff resources. End customers receive reliable air quality measurement data based on the SEN54, and can benefit from improved air quality with increased health and comfort.
While the global economy is again coming back to its growth track, we have to be very careful, so that the recurrence of any pandemic can’t distract us. As per the suggestion of the WHO, work must continue to develop new methods of vaccination, however, till the new vaccines are developed and reached to the people across the world, we have to be very careful regarding the air quality around us as SARS-CoV-2 spreads through air.
Also, the ever-growing presence of particulate matters in the air is a matter of great concern now. As on an average, we spend more amount of our times within enclosed areas, we need to take more care of the indoor environments whether it is a residence or a workplace.
Thus, in any case, there is no substitute for improving our indoor air quality to stay healthy and fit.
By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)