Thirteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines are just now being distributed, with many on the frontlines receiving their second dose. Interestingly, the virus has also moved disinfection and indoor air purification to the top daily conversation.
But questions of what works and what’s effective still lingers along with uncertainty and fear. The pandemic has created an awakening, reinforcing (or forcing) practices that should be taking place regardless – like washing our hands and covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough. Unfortunately, we can’t be sure those around us are doing the same. Businesses are doing their best, requiring patrons to wear masks and social distance, installing sneeze guards and dividers between patrons and employees or between guests. It creates a visual sense of comfort, knowing precautions are being taken, but is it enough?
For small businesses struggling to stay afloat, one of the more prevalent conversations when it comes to safety of operations – today and in the future – is the importance of upgrading air quality systems. Due to the respiratory nature of the virus, many solutions that work within heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are starting to increase in popularity.
Right now, air quality systems need to be the subject of conversation, whether we are talking about bank branches, dry cleaners, restaurants, hotels, and/or amusement parks.
Image courtesy of Extreme Microbial Technologies.
Back in January, the University of Louisville, Center for Predictive Medicine validated a new line of proprietary antimicrobial systems for industrial and residential use, with 99.9% effectiveness. The company, Extreme Microbial Technologies, out of Dayton, Ohio is a leading air and surface purification innovator.
If you’ve been to a CVS or ACE Hardware lately, you may have noticed ultraviolet light purification systems which you can put your phone, keys, or other small apparatuses in. Others market antimicrobial mists that work like hand sanitizer spritzers with a much larger range and coverage area. They’re all claiming to do the same thing – kill viruses in the air and on surfaces.
Now, with EMT, think bigger. Its newest product line is the very first to be exclusively designed and manufactured by the company. Microbial Area Kleeners, or MAK systems as the company describes, produce a constant stream of Ionized Hydrogen Peroxide (IHP) into an indoor environment to reduce the spread of the virus along with other harmful molds and bacteria. The state-of-the-art technology behind IHP is plasma safe, with cells emitting less than 1/12 of OSHA safe limits. The benefit of which is of course, self-regulating, preventing levels from climbing too high.
The company’s CEO Randall Mount says that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, their market was “rather niche” mainly serving customers in the food processing industry to prevent listeria and other bacteria from contaminating the food supply. The introduction of COVID-19 completely changed the market.
“Once [these] systems were tested effectively in helping to eliminate the virus, it became difficult to keep up with demand. We went from serving a few small industries to scaling our manufacturing and installing in every type of business from retail stores and restaurants to massive production and manufacturing facilities,” Mount explains.
So how does it work?
First, specific wavelengths of energy bounce off and through a specially coated matrix catalyst. This matrix and energy, according to Mount, combines with the moisture and oxygen in the air to create Active Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma. From there, it seeks out and attacks microbes throughout the treated space, cleansing the area. Fun fact, it kills mold 50 times faster than our own Ozone!
The Dayton company works with a variety of industries ranging from indoor grow & greenhouses and hatcheries, to food processing and storage, pharmaceutical, fitness centers, and healthcare facilities to help develop solutions that significantly reduce or eliminate harmful germs within any indoor environment.
Grit Daily: What is one myth surrounding air purification that is just plain wrong in 2021?
Randall Mount: The idea that all air filtration systems are the same is absolutely false.
When it comes to effectively fighting the COVID-19 virus in our indoor spaces, we need to understand the systems used to clean the air from a variety of other contaminants, which may not work against the COVID virus.
Many technologies out there are “passive” which means in order to work, the virus has to go directly to it. COVID particles are so small – they can pass through HEPA filters, which negates this as a solution.
UV light will work IF and only if the virus is directly in front of a UV light for a specific amount of time. Active technologies seek out the virus. In duct work, the air is moving by so fast that if it’s not an active system it will NOT kill the viruses.
GD: Why is Ionized Hydrogen Peroxide a subject of conversation here? Can it be dangerous?
RM: Our systems are not a touch and go solution. They provide a continuous stream of protection that eliminates viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces.
In other words, if you disinfect something by spraying a solution or wiping it down, it’s disinfected for the moment – until the contaminant is reintroduced. Our systems seek out contaminates as they’re reintroduced into space, and eliminates them.
GD: Why is it converted into Active Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma?
RM: We chose to use IHP in the MAK systems because it’s safe. The levels of Ozone and Hydrogen Peroxide are well below federal regulatory thresholds. This means it is extremely effective at decontaminating air and surfaces while being environmentally safe for humans and animals.
And when continuously put out into the room – it eliminates contaminants as they’re introduced – KEEPING the space clean.
GD: Why are these technologies JUST NOW starting to come out? Was the industry not already prepared for this type of tech? Doesn’t it seem “too simple” in concept to not have around now?
RM: The technology has been around for years. The application was directed mainly at food processing facilities to keep indoor spaces clean from harmful bacteria and viruses that could affect the food supply as well as the people who work in the plants.
As COVID was introduced, the industry knew this could be a viable solution but like everything else – it had to be tested and proven effective against the virus in order to make the transition.
GD: How does EMT’s new product line differ from the market-existing products, such as UV-light purification systems we find at CVS?
RM: Our systems are ACTIVE – seeking out the virus and eliminating it in the air and on surfaces. Many other solutions including UV light systems are considered PASSIVE – which means the virus has to be in direct line of sight from the light and in the case of UV – for a certain amount of time – in order to be effective.