Region: The Americas
COVID-19 drives demand for UV disinfection
JUPITER, Florida, 29 April 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on humanity, but it has also illustrated the adage, “chaos breeds innovation”, said Fresh-Aire UV through a Press release.
Hospitals, overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients amidst a personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage, have developed their own innovations to disinfect and reuse employee N95 masks and other medical protection, the company said. “Doctors and healthcare managers are ordering UV (ultraviolet) lamp systems to convert hospital refrigerators, cabinets and other containers into makeshift disinfection chambers for the renewed interest in reusing PPE due to shortages,” said Aaron Engel, Vice-President, Business/Development, Fresh-Aire UV. “Since the chambers are a variety of volumetric sizes, we take their dimensions and provide the most effective UV output using our proprietary BlueCalc modeling software.”
Puzzled how doctors were making the connection of UV-C’s virus inactivation capabilities with PPE disinfection, Fresh-Aire UV said its executives soon discovered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had issued its guideline document, ‘Crisis Standards of Care Decontamination Recommendations’, on April 9. One recommended alternative cited a 2018 American Journal of Infection Control article, ‘Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation of Influenza-Contaminated N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFR)’ to disinfect PPE for reuse. The 2018 article’s researchers custom-built a deactivation chamber using Fresh-Aire UV’s high-output UV-C lamp system, the company said. The conclusion stated that one- to five-minute (depending on chamber size) UV-C exposures were effective in disinfecting N95 respirators for reuse during pandemic shortages, the company added.
Consequently, UV equipment sales have been strong throughout the pandemic, Fresh-Aire UV said, as it, along with its distributors and contractors battle to keep pace with the increasing demand for commercial and residential systems.
Besides lamp systems, the company said, the most popular requests during the crisis have been UV-C surface disinfection for offices, exam spaces and patient rooms; commercial UV systems for disinfecting the airflow and interior surfaces of air handlers and ductwork; and single lamps and combination UV/activated carbon media systems for residential HVAC equipment.
Consequently, the company said, many HVAC contractors are on a record pace to sell and install residential UV systems. Distributors have also seen an unprecedented interest in UV, the company said. “Our UV sales are up 1,000% due to COVID-19 and inquiries are continually increasing,” the company quoted Ronald Zajack, President, Coastal Cooling Inc., a Fort Myers, Florida-based HVAC contractor, as saying.
Owing to its sudden emergence, there’s no published data of UV-C’s effectiveness or dosage for inactivating COVID-19, the company said. However, the 2004 study, ‘Inactivation of the Coronavirus that Induces Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS-COV’, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), has proven UV-C’s success with other coronaviruses, such as SARS https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15350737, the company said. Consequently, experts suspect COVID-19 dosages are probably similar to SARS for inactivation, the company added.
Furthermore, Fresh-Aire UV said its third-party testing also included viruses. One study, the company said, simulated airstream microbe inactivation in an ASTM/AHAM-style environmental test chamber, simulating a typical building’s indoor environment and HVAC air handler arrangement. Performed in an ASHRAE Standard 52.2 test duct system, the test’s UV-C light single-pass results demonstrated a 99.03% inactivation of the virus (MS2 coliphage), the company claimed.
The chaos of Covid-19, the company said, has bred innovation at hospitals but also at Fresh-Aire UV. The company said it is now developing UV-C lamp chambers to disinfect medical equipment that will help relieve the pressure on N95 mask manufacturers to maintain the PPE supply chain throughout the ensuing months of the COVID-19 crisis.