Thursday, October 17, 2013

Facility management: Humidity reduces airborne flu

Better facility management can reduce
sickness and absenteeism rates.
A recent study carried out by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has shown that the airborne transmission of the influenza virus is significantly reduced by maintaining an atmosphere of 40% relative humidity (RH) and above.

To test the effects of humidity on airborne influenza, aerosols of flu virus were “coughed” into a room’s atmosphere by a mechanical manikin at humidity ranging from 7-73%RH, while the air intake from a breathing manikin in the room was monitored.

The air inhaled by the breathing manikin showed that at ≤23%RH the airborne flu virus retained 71-77% infectivity, while at ≥43%RH infectivity dropped to just 15-22%. The study showed that inactivation of the virus at the higher humidity occurred rapidly after coughing with most of the decline occurring in the first 15 minutes.

The study concluded that maintaining relative indoor humidity at 40%RH and above will significantly reduce the infectivity of an aerosolized influenza virus.

It is estimated that over 7.6million working days are lost in the UK each year as a result of flu-related sickness, costing the UK economy over £1.35 billion per annum. Most experts think that flu is spread by tiny droplets created when people with flu cough or sneeze, which can remain in the air for hours.

“This study shows how important it is to maintain an optimum humidity in the workplace to reduce absenteeism and especially in areas of high risk to airborne viruses, such as hospitals and doctors’ surgeries,” said Tim Scott, a humidification specialist.

“Although many professional bodies, including BSRIA, CIBSE and HSE, all recommend maintaining indoor humidity at above 40%RH it is not uncommon to see humidification systems being turned off to reduce operating costs. A low humidity is not as noticeable by employees as a low temperature, so it can go unnoticed. However, the true cost of not maintaining indoor humidity can be poor staff health and an increase in absenteeism, which can far outweigh the cost of operating the building’s humidification system.” Scott said.

Provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace

Apart from the flu virus, there are many other airborne contaminants that can affect employees' health, well-being and productivity.
Air cleaners for offices and other
work spaces provide cleaner and
healthier air.

Many workplaces expose employers and employees to airborne chemicals, particles, dust, allergens, mold, viruses, bacteria, odors and gases. 

Most of these contaminants can be controlled with adequate ventilation, best facility management practices and air cleaning.

Electrocorp offers versatile and efficient air cleaners for industrial and commercial use, which provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace.

The air purifiers strip the air of chemicals, particles and biological contaminants by forcing the air through a deep-bed activated carbon air filter, a HEPA filter and various pre-filters as well as an optional UV germicidal filter.

The air cleaners come in many different sizes and with a variety of options. They are custom-built to provide the protection that is needed.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a consultation with an IAQ specialist.

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