Food Safety in Time of Covid-19
Indoor Environmental Issues
INDOOR AIR QUALITY has become the FOCUS for many businesses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the time for ACMV & R (Air Conditioning, Mechanical Ventilation & Refrigeration) industry players to capitalise on the momentum to promote the latest equipment and solutions for HEALTHIER and SAFER LIVING.
Medklinn International Chief Innovation Officer, Daniel Lu spoke to industry leaders and participants at the MARVEX Power Talk on The ‘New’ Focus in Indoor AIR Quality.
MARVEX Power Talk is jointly organised by MACRA and C.I.S, MARVEX is an annual ACMV & R business and trade event for industry suppliers, traders and specifiers to discover the latest innovations, build new partnerships and optimise business opportunities regionally.
Watch Daniel speak or you can read the transcript below.
Indoor Air quality is an on-going conversation not just in Malaysia but also globally. Our international customers are constantly engaging us to provide solutions to deal with the on-going pandemic. This pandemic has changed the world drastically and IAQ has become an important and necessary consideration for everyone to maintain good health and safer living spaces. Medklinn’s focus on innovating hygiene is aimed at being a part of a total approach to indoor air quality solutions.
Founded in 2005, Medklinn is a health technology company that is innovating hygiene with new cutting-edge, chemical-free, sustainable sterilization technologies and products, creating new ways to improve quality of life and prevent diseases. We specialise in eradicating bacteria, viruses, mould, allergens, pollutants, bad smells, cross contamination and cross infections. This is done by sterilizing air, surfaces and water naturally without using chemicals. Medklinn is in Asia Pacific, North America and Europe.
The major challenges for indoor air quality in the current pandemic amongst our customers and people we speak to is finding effective solutions to tackle pathogens spreading through droplets and aerosols. There has been a lot of discussion as to whether the spread of the virus is through droplets, or it is airborne. We cannot ignore that both are part of the problem. Coronavirus can spread through the air, droplets and on contact from contaminated surfaces. According to published research, SARS-CoV-2 in aerosol form can last up to 3 hours, and on different types of surfaces the virus can live longer, 72 hours on plastics, stainless steel 48 hours, Copper 4 hours and cardboard 24 hours. Studies have also shown that other types of coronaviruses can last up to 9 days on certain types of material. So, we need to be aware that coronaviruses is not just airborne but can also be present on surfaces.
ASHRAE which has come out with many guidelines made it very clear in its Position Document on Infectious Aerosols @2020 that HVAC systems cannot control all airflows and completely prevent dissemination of an infectious aerosol or disease transmission by droplets and aerosols. Therefore we cannot solely rely on air movement alone to reduce the risks of virus spread, but we should approach the solution from a total eco-system perspective, tackling air and surface contamination for any indoor environment, to be effective and result in better protection.
Current practices to improve indoor air quality focuses on improving HVAC Systems or Non-HVAC Systems. In indoor spaces with HVAC Systems, the recommendation is to improve the air filtration system by using air cleaners such as HEPA Filter, UVC, ESP or Bipolar Ionization to improve air quality and to increase air movement. In spaces without HVAC Systems, the recommendations are to increase disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and use portable air purifiers with HEPA filters, ESP or UVC.
However, these current practices have challenges.
– Do not address surface contaminations completely.
– Do not operate on a 24-hour basis to provide continuous air movement.
– Do not completely tackle the entire indoor environment.
Medklinn is focussed on developing sterilization technologies that provide the highest level of hygiene and safety continuously 24/7 without the use of chemicals. The technology provides the ability to create active oxygen to sterilize indoor environments. Active oxygen which the technology creates, and replicates is found and produced in nature, by waterfalls, thunderstorms, waves at sea and photosynthesis. Active oxygen is a combination of negative ions (O-) and ozone (O3) to eliminate indoor pollutants, viruses, bacteria, mould and unpleasant odour.
Medklinn’s Cerafusion™ Technology is a patented technique that was created to generate active oxygen by splitting oxygen atoms to create negative ions (O-) and ozone (O3). Ozone is proven to be effective in killing bacteria and deactivating viruses by destroying the RNA and DNA at a molecular level, while negative ions (O-) cluster airborne particles causing them to fall on to the surface. Cerafusion™ Technology is able to control the production of Ozone(O3) and Atomic Oxygen(O1) depending on the application. What is key is that the technology is designed to provide continuous sterilization in any indoor environment to enhance hygiene and provide a safer living environment. This is an important factor because pathogens or indoor pollutants are always there 24/7. The current method of increasing air movement is important but not sufficient to address completely the indoor environment air quality problem. We need to adopt new technologies to complement existing indoor air quality solutions.
Monash University, Malaysia campus tested Cerafusion™ Technology against some of the common bacteria and mould. 99.9% of Bacteria and Mould was eradicated in lab tests.
Nottingham University tested Cerafusion™ Technology against bacteria and different fungi and found that active oxygen penetrates the cell membrane and kills bacteria by destroying its RNA and DNA.
University of Malaya tested Cerafusion™ Technology against Human Enterovirus 71 that causes Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and found that the virus was deactivated.
In August 2020, Fujita Health University made an official statement that ozone in low concentration levels of 0.05 to 0.1 parts per million(ppm), considered harmless to humans, is able to deactivate coronavirus.
Since the start of this pandemic we have seen a number of new studies demonstrating the efficacy of ozone technology with low ozone concentration levels of 0.05ppm to 0.1ppm having the ability to deactivate coronavirus as much as 95%. This is supported by another study conducted by Tel Aviv University that found ozone to be highly effective in disinfecting coronavirus. The CDC in the US states that Ozone is very effective at inactivating viruses within seconds, especially enveloped viruses like the SARS-CoV-2. Ozone solubilizes the lipid membrane of the virus.
Many of these studies lately endorse the use of ozone at a controlled level to eliminate the virus during this pandemic.
What is important here with indoor air quality is we have to look at and take a total solution approach instead of relying on just air movement or one specific technology. Medklinn Air and Surface Sterilizers are an important and necessary component to the total solution, and it is Always ON 24/7 providing continuous protection and added safety. Medklinn sterilization technology will complement existing solutions that are in place and fill the gaps in indoor spaces with HVAC systems or non-HVAC systems and address its limitations.
In summary, we need a more comprehensive approach to tackle indoor air quality in this new norm. We need to embrace new technology to compliment existing solutions. We need to understand the importance of sterilizing air and surfaces on a continuous 24/7 basis for it to be effective and we also need to look at implementing added safety measures in our efforts to reduce the risks in this new norm.
There is no perfect technology to effectively address the risks in this pandemic. We need to look at implementing more comprehensive safety solutions. Indoor pollution is very complicated, but we often try to simplify the solution to the problem. It will not work. We need to face the facts and educate organizations, business owners and the general public, so that they have the knowledge to invest and implement the right indoor air quality solution.
Q&A Session with Daniel Lu
1. Could Ozone be used to treat Covid-19 patients?
There are studies done in Italy and in South America where ozone is used in treating patients and currently there are clinical trials on the use of ozone for such treatments. Medklinn is not in the space of treatment for patients, but to answer the question, yes ozone has been considered and is being used to treat patients.
2. Does air movement in an indoor environment cause viruses to disseminate around the occupants?
There is a possibility with more air movement in a built-in environment, viruses will disseminate. That is why we need to treat airborne viruses, and to do that we use active oxygen to deactivate airborne viruses as well as viruses that are on surfaces. If you just focus on air movement solely, there are studies which show that with increasing air movement, it enhances the spread of viruses instead in the natural environment. We need to look into total solutions to be more effective when dealing with viruses.
3. Does UV light help when it is installed in the return ducting system?
Yes, but it depends on the objective of placing UVC in the return duct. Example, one of our customers is experiencing a Covid-19 outbreak that spread through the centralize ducting system. They are looking at ways to treat the system. When treating the HVAC system, it is only one part of the solution. The source of the virus is coming from the indoor environment. We suggested to the customer that other than treating the ducting system with UV or ESP, we need to address the indoor environment as well. This is where Medklinn sterilization solution to sterilize the indoor space on a continuous basis is needed, in addition to treating the ducting system which will be a more effective way to address the problem. Medklinn places importance to take a holistic solution approach, not just single independent solutions that will not be able to address the viral spread completely.
4. Can you share some of the implementations Medklinn has done for large scale areas?
Some of our major customers in Malaysia are Resort World Genting where we installed our system in the casinos which are huge spaces, as large as 30,000 square metres. We have also implemented in restaurants, hotel rooms, corridors, public toilets. Other places include 37 Jaya Grocer outlets throughout Malaysia which was a large implementation. All Eco World sales galleries are also equipped with Medklinn solutions. KLIA in the 2nd phase refurbishment of their toilets had Medklinn implemented. In Singapore, Medklinn is implemented at Changi Airport which is very aggressive in tackling Covid-19 and we are proud to be part of their solution for the public toilets. Changi found that there were cases coming from the toilet area. We are working with Changi continuously and have completed some parts of Terminal 1, Terminal 3 and Terminal 4. We have also implemented in The Jewel, which is the hype in Singapore. Medklinn has also been implemented some government departments like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. Currently, we have just installed Medklinn in a 400 seat Cinema in Germany to tackle the concern on Covid-19. We will be implementing Medklinn in another 3 to 4 Cinemas in Germany. These are just some of the examples of large-scale implementations that we have done so far.
5. Is the mechanical ventilation system at MAEPS quarantine facility sufficient to control the spread of Covid-19 infection amongst non-patients?
Places that have been converted for treating patients with Covid-19 or for isolation are good examples because they accommodate a large number of people, not just 5 but hundreds and thousands of people. The right solutions must be implemented. Air movement, treatment of HVAC system to make sure air distribution and the diffusers are all treated is important. But what is also important is to sterilize the indoor space on a continuous basis, especially where the patients are sleeping. More than one solution is required. Multiple solutions should be implemented to address the issue of viral spread in such high-risk places. For example, our experience with Casinos, which are crowded areas where you want to minimize infection amongst people. We spend time working with Facility Engineers and HVAC Engineers to look at the total air distribution flow and disinfection of the indoor space concurrently and not in isolation. A more comprehensive solution is required to address this issue effectively.
6. Why is air movement insufficient to address Covid-19 effectively?
It is clearly stated in ASHRAE’s document that air movement cannot control all air flows and completely prevent the dissemination of infected aerosols or disease transmission. That is one important factor, but not only that, in the actual environment it is more complicated. The system in place may not be able to move the entire air from every corner of the room or it is an old system or not well maintained which will impact performance. Moving the air is only one parameter, what about surfaces that are contaminated. We should be addressing those areas as well. It is Medklinn’s belief that we must treat the indoor environment completely on a 24/7 basis because bacteria and viruses are everywhere. It is impossible to control the movement of bacteria and viruses. Studies have shown that air movement alone does not prevent the spread of viruses. In fact, it can increase the spread of viruses, depending on how the air is being moved and the kind of air distribution that is in place. That is why it is important that we sterilize the indoor environment in addition to air movement. If you just move the air, you are not deactivating the viruses or the bacteria. There is much discussion on air movement and HVAC systems but there is no satisfactory answer to solving the problem because we are so skewed to looking at air movement and HVAC systems. Not just in Malaysia but also globally. We need to seriously start looking at the indoor space as well where people are, and in doing so we will be more effective in tackling the problem on a holistic approach.
7. What is the key takeaway from today’s session?
Firstly, the importance of taking a holistic approach to any indoor environment problem, especially in relation to Covid-19.
Secondly, embrace new innovations and technologies to compliment existing solutions. The new normal has made it necessary. Solutions are not as simple and straightforward.
These are the two aspects that we must seriously consider moving forward to be effective in how we tackle Covid-19.
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