Himanshu Agarwal is widely recognized as a pioneer in the HVAC and IAQ industries. Formerly an Office Bearer for ISHRAE, currently, he is an active member of ASHRAE, IAQA and serves on the technical board for IGBC. As a critical proponent for indoor air quality and its massive impact on any nation’s younger population, he has been a frequent guest speaker at several IAQ forums hosted by ISHRAE, CII and many other industry bodies.
The rising cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remain a significant area of concern for India, a country with a population of over 1.3 billion. While the government has now started reopening economic activities in most parts of India, authorities are scrambling to find ways to curb the virus’s spread. Business organizations, too, are adopting a host of safety measures to safeguard both their employees and customers from the deadly contagion. However, these safety measures may not necessarily address the risk of transmission indoors. As established by a growing body of evidence, the likelihood of catching COVID-19 is higher in enclosed spaces. In fact, a study conducted by Chinese researchers earlier this year found that the infection risk is 4 times higher indoors than it is in open places.
According to another research paper from Japan, the chance of transmitting coronavirus in a closed environment is 18.7 times greater when compared to outdoors. Moreover, the virus travels faster and longer distances through air droplets in confined air-conditioned space. Sanitization of indoor air, therefore, is critical to eliminate microbes including airborne viruses, bacteria, PM 2.5 particles, pathogens, and other toxic gases which can pose serious health hazards.
Indoor air sanitization with magnetism and UV-C lights
Sanitization of air is not as simple as air purification. It requires a robust technology-based mechanism that combines the power of magnetic filtration with UV-C lights to destroy any harmful microorganisms and pollutants in the air. As per the guidelines released by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and EUROVENT, the use of high-efficiency air filtration technologies and UV-C lights can provide protection against the novel coronavirus. Many international bodies are also recommending the use of UVGI (Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) disinfection method to mitigate the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19. While it has not been directly tested on coronavirus yet, it has been proven effective against other bacteria and viruses and can show similar results for SARS-CoV-2 family of viruses.
How do these technologies work?
Air filtration systems equipped with magnetism and UV-C can trap airborne viruses of even 0.1 microns (which is the size range of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) at the magnetic stage through electron beaming. The DNA/RNA of the virus is ruptured and furthermore destroyed with photonic energy of the UVGI system, and then the air is sanitized and released into space. The UVGI technology incorporated in the system also disinfects the air by emitting UV-C rays at a wavelength of 253.7 nm (UV-C band). These rays kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting the DNA of microorganisms, thereby rendering them unable to perform any vital cellular functions such as reproducing.
Application in India
India is still unfamiliar with the idea of using magnetic filtration with UV-C for air sanitization. Still, companies like Magneto CleanTech are now harnessing the power of these technologies and coming up innovative products to sanitize indoor air and protect people from the coronavirus. Air sanitization systems with magnetic filtration with UV-C can also improve the overall quality of indoor air and are safe to use as they are installed into the central AC system.
While the concept and application are new to India, implementing them will not only help in mitigating the risk of transmission but also help improve overall indoor air quality in the country. Improving indoor air quality in the country is imperative since indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors with microbes and gases from aerosols, cooking oil, dust, and other particles. Effective and efficient implementation of such air sanitization systems infused with UV-C technology will make the air more breathable and curb the risk of airborne diseases, making the air purer and healthier.