The Massive Responsibility to Safeguard Students: Why Schools Must Disinfect the Air – Part 2

Read part one of this blog here.

Ventilation and Filtration: School Buildings Must Do More

Some school websites do discuss ventilation and air filtration, critical strategies for controlling airborne spread. But here again, actions fall short.

Open windows are a simple way to reduce airborne concentration of coronavirus particles, but many classrooms have no windows. In others, the windows are bolted shut. Even when windows are operational, they’re often kept closed to keep out allergy-inducing pollen or blasts of cold air.

Schools are notorious for ventilation deficiencies. A  recent analysis documented ventilation problems in 60% of New York City schools with ventilation reports. Well before the emergence of Covid, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported poor indoor air quality in U.S. schools may pose a “serious health threat” to students and staff.

The EPA was referring to airborne contaminants emitted by a wide range of biological and chemical sources, from mouldy ceiling tiles to cockroach dander to idling school buses and vaping devices.  But the ventilation deficiencies that expose students and staff to pollutants also leave them vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2.

So do shortcomings in air filtration. At many schools, the HVAC systems just aren’t equipped to handle high-level systems. As one American college concedes, adopting a more powerful filtration system “could very well cause system failure.” Even stand-alone HEPA filters won’t capture 100% of coronavirus particles, some of which are 900 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

One toxicologist, a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, described school filtration systems as “designed to control body odour, to be honest.” SARS-CoV-2, he noted, is a highly contagious aerosol. “We’re being asked to suspend disbelief and believe that buildings were designed to protect us against infections. You’re going to have to do more.”

What more can be done?

Ultraviolet (UV) light technologies, designed to kill viral particles that slip through filters, are often touted as alternatives. But UV rays pose their own health risks, which is why they’re used to disinfect subway trains after hours and elevators not in use. UV light is not a practical or safe way to destroy coronavirus particles hovering in classrooms.

A far better solution is an ultra-low energy plasma-based nanotechnology from Novaerus, called NanoStrike®.

Powered by NanoStrike, Novaerus air dis-infection devices are unobtrusive, available in three different sizes, and can be easily placed or mounted in classrooms, dorm rooms, restrooms, school nurse’s offices, campus health centres, and other high-risk spaces.

The devices house a series of coil tubes that generate an electrical discharge, not unlike the plasma emitted by lightning. A high-quality fan draws contaminated air into the chamber where, in nanoseconds, the DNA of pathogens becomes stretched by the plasma and explodes into inert, harmless debris. Clean air is then expelled back into the room.

Unique among air-disinfection devices, NanoStrike technology leaves behind no harmful by-products.

Novaerus devices are so safe, even for the most vulnerable populations, that they are commonly deployed in hospital ICUs, operating theatres, and emergency rooms. Designed to protect both patients and medical staff from infection, the devices run 24/7. With a highly infectious virus such as SARS- CoV-2, continual air disinfection is critical.

The same sleek, white metal boxes can now be found in universities and schools alike.

NanoStrike technology, proven highly effective by independent lab testing, has long been used to fight influenza, norovirus, measles, MRSA — any number of viral and bacterial diseases. Tests also have confirmed the devices destroy airborne toxins such as VOCs and fine particulate matter.

Now, lab tests confirm NanoStrike technology can reduce airborne load of MS2 Bacteriophage, a virus used as a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, by 99.99% in just 15 minutes.* Hospitals worldwide, from Wuhan to Budapest, have installed the units in their Covid wards.

Novaerus portable devices, powered by NanoStrike Technology can help to remove airborne viruses which travel in tiny aggregated droplets that can linger for hours before they settle on surfaces.

Schools Must Prioritize Air Disinfection

The stakes for schools have never been higher. At least 6 American school teachers died from Covid-19 in the weeks after schools re-opened. Mississippi reported over 600 cases among teachers and staff.

In Italy, concerns were raised as the country with the oldest teaching workforce in the EU returned to school. More than half of primary and secondary school teachers in Italy are over the age of 50, with 17% over 60.

Schools are working hard to keep staff and students safe. At the same time, administrators and building operators are inundated with conflicting guidance — from government authorities and public-health experts — on how best to minimize coronavirus spread. Recently, the CDC has updated its guidance on how COVID-19 spreads, acknowledging that the coronavirus can spread via airborne transmission.

“People have prevention fatigue,” says Dr Emanuel Goldman, the Columbia microbiologist. “They’re exhausted by all the information we’re throwing at them. We have to communicate priorities clearly.”

In schools, Dr Goldman asserts, the top priority must be air disinfection. An investment made during the pandemic will pay dividends in the aftermath.

“Covid-19 is not the first — and will not be the last — infectious disease to threaten our society,” says Harvard’s Joseph Allen, co-author of Healthy Buildings. “School building systems, in general, have historically been underfunded, under-ventilated, and under-prepared.”

By deploying Novaerus NanoStrike technology, schools will find themselves prepared for future waves of Covid-19 and the inevitable outbreaks of other highly infectious diseases.

*The Novaerus Defend 1050 air dis-infection unit was shown to reduce the virus by 99.99% in 15 minutes.

The Massive Responsibility to Safeguard Students: Why Schools Must Disinfect the Air – Part 1

Scan the website of any school that has reopened in the Covid-19 era, and you’ll find a litany of “enhanced disinfection protocols.”

Cleaning schedules for whiteboards, light switches, and cafeteria microwaves. Lists of government-approved carpet disinfectants. An accounting of “hypochlorous acid disinfectant wipes” in staff restrooms.

Keep clicking and you’ll find the school’s “physical distancing framework” — protocols for university shuttles and chemistry labs, guidelines for classroom desk dividers and elevator occupancy.

As schools welcome students and teachers back to class, they are seeking to inspire confidence in their Covid-19 precautions. But just how effective are all these measures?

It’s a high-stakes question. Already, more than 50,000 coronavirus cases have been reported by U.S. colleges, U.S. pediatric cases have hit half a million, and outbreaks have forced schools worldwide — from Wales to Israel to the United States — to close just days after re-opening.

In Berlin, Germany, coronavirus cases were reported by at least 41 schools a fortnight after the capital’s 825 schools reopened.

As for the answer: Scientists say schools are largely missing the boat.

“Surfaces are not really the problem,” asserts microbiologist Emanuel Goldman, Ph.D., of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “What [schools] really should be doing is focusing on the main routes of transmission of this disease, which is breathing.”

That’s why physical distancing measures indoors are of limited value, too.

“Distance alone will never solve the aerosol problem,” says Jose-Luis Jimenez, Ph.D., a University of Colorado chemist. “If you are in the same room, you can get infected.”

It’s well documented that coronavirus particles can linger in the air and travel across a room. To protect students and staff from inhaling these particles, schools must focus less on disinfecting desks and more on disinfecting the air.

Of course, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, isn’t the only pathogen swirling about campuses. School buildings are reservoirs for a range of airborne viruses and bacteria, as well as asthma-inducing mould spores and pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the need for schools to deploy air-disinfection technologies year-round.

“They’re not only going to be helpful for Covid-19 but for next year’s flu season,” says David Brenner, Ph.D., a Columbia University physicist.

And not just to minimize influenza spread but also to quell the inevitable outbreaks of norovirus, common cold, and even high infectious diseases such as measles, now making a comeback around the world. As one American epidemiologist noted, once the Covid pandemic fades, schools will continue to have “the massive responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of their students.”

Why Surface Cleaning and the 2-Metre Rule Fall Short

Scientists agree surface cleaning plays a minor role, at best, in controlling transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In fact, elaborate disinfection measures have been dubbed “hygiene theatre,” a feel-good display of concern that provides little actual protection.

School surface protocols emerged after early research suggested SARS-CoV-2 can survive for days on metal and cardboard. But recent analyses found those studies used exaggerated conditions. As Columbia’s Dr Goldman notes, up to 100 people would need to sneeze in precisely the same spot to match some of the experimental conditions.

The early studies, Goldman argues, “stacked the  deck to get a result that bears no resemblance to the real world.”

What is happening in the real world: aerosol transmission, often by young people with no symptoms. A student who feels top-notch can,  merely by asking a question, emit infectious particles light enough to sail across a classroom, even a lecture hall. A single minute of loud talking could launch over 1,000 virus-containing droplets.

Depending on the conditions, SARS-CoV-2 can travel well beyond 2 metres, the default distancing guidance for schools. In one hospital study, scientists captured viable airborne coronavirus particles nearly 4.8 metres away from a hospitalized Covid patient.

The guidance dates from 19th-century research suggesting 6 feet (approximately 2 metres) was as far as microbe-laden droplets could travel. Today’s more sophisticated studies, using laser-light technology, demonstrate that droplets exist in a range of sizes, cluster in invisible clouds, and can travel much farther indoors.

Six feet is a fine number, but we need to convey that this is a starting point,” says Linsey Marr, Ph.D., a Virginia Tech environmental engineer.

Case reports bolster the evidence. For example, in a well-known Washington choir practice, one singer spread SARS-CoV-2 as far as 13.5 metres; 53 of 61 choir members became infected, and two died.

No doubt infectious particles can waft about classrooms, hallways, staff lounges — anywhere on campus, including restrooms.

“When you flush a toilet, the churning and bubbling of water aerosolizes faecal matter,” explains Joseph Allen, Ph.D., director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard’s school of public health. “You’re breathing in toilet water and whatever is in that toilet water — including viruses and bacteria.”

SARS-CoV-2 may well be among those viruses.

In hospital studies, traces of coronavirus RNA have been detected in air samples collected near toilets of Covid-19 patients. Bioaerosols may linger for more than 30 minutes after a flush, other research has found. What’s more, compared to toilets with lids, lidless toilets — standard in elementary and secondary schools — increase the risk infectious particles will escape.

Enforcing the 2-metre rule won’t lower the odds that a student or staff member might inhale those particles. Neither will scrupulous disinfection of door handles and microwaves.

All in all, experts concur, school Covid precautions are falling short. Indeed, one American epidemiologist called the priorities at her own child’s school — one-way hallways, frequent sanitizing, temperature checks — “dangerously misdirected.” Airborne coronavirus spread, she lamented, was “absent from the conversation.”

Read part two here.

Tuberculosis Isn’t Over — Not by a Longshot

Over the course of human history — in ancient Egypt, in medieval Europe, in 19th-century North America — tuberculosis has surged and waned, causing pain and death on a massive scale before receding. It was during one period of recession, in 1915, that the New York Times warned of the “pressing” need to eradicate the disease.

“The decline,” cautioned the Times, “has lulled us into a false sense of security.”

A century later, tuberculosis is back — only worse. New, drug-resistant strains of the TB bacteria are spreading worldwide, creating what the World Health Organization (WHO) deems a “global emergency.”

Tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease that destroys lung tissue, has been curable since the 1950s, thanks to the development of antibiotics. Yet TB is currently the leading cause of death from infectious disease worldwide, killing 1.6 million, including 230,000 children. Tuberculosis is the ninth leading cause of death overall, according to WHO.

Each year, 10 million people contract TB, but what really alarms scientists: more than half a million patients are infected by multi-drug resistant TB, known as MDR-TB. This strain of TB is resistant to the two most powerful tuberculosis drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin.

More worrisome, thousands contract an even more severe and deadly TB strain, known as extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which resists the more costly and toxic second-line drugs. XDR-TB has been reported in at least 123 countries and comprises about 6% of all drug-resistant TB cases.

Echoing the New York Times in 1915, the United Nations has pleaded for an “urgent global response” to the TB epidemic. But advances in medicine and healthcare delivery have, thus far, proved no match for a disease once known as “consumption” and “the great white plague.”

“You’re facing the valley of death because there’s nothing on the horizon,” warns Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious disease expert at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine.

A World Health Organization report minces no words: “The ‘end’ of TB as a major public health problem remains an aspiration rather than a reality.”

As 20th-century drugs become obsolete and global migration fuels TB’s spread, halting tuberculosis in all its forms will require political will, development of new drugs, and technological innovation such as hospital air disinfection.

How MDR-TB Develop

TB becomes drug-resistant when infected patients fail to complete the entire course of treatment or when the treatment regimen is mismanaged. Given the lengthy and complex nature of TB treatment, it is hardly surprising that both scenarios are common.

Treatment for ordinary TB requires a regimen of four drugs over 6 to 9 months; all drugs must be taken in precise doses and at precise times. Patients infected with MDR-TB endure far worse: daily injections for six months, IV infusions for up to two years, a total of 14,000 pills, and side effects as severe as hearing loss, psychosis, and kidney impairment.

Many patients drop out of treatment, allowing their disease to morph into XDR-TB.

In wealthy nations, treatment for MDR-TB costs 5 to 10 times more than standard TB treatment. In countries with fewer resources, treating this strain can cost “literally thousands of times” as much and fails more often than not.

Worldwide, only 25% of people with MDR-TB are enrolled in treatment, and only about 55% are successfully treated while 16% die of the disease.

For XDR-TB, treatment is even more complex and gruelling; only about 30% of patients are successfully treated. As the nonprofit TB Alliance puts it, “XDR-TB is emerging as an extremely deadly and costly global health threat that the world is inadequately equipped to tackle.”

The Global Spread of TB

In generations past, what made TB so threatening was the ease with which the bacteria can spread. Droplets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are launched airborne when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, or even speaks. The droplets can waft in the air for hours and travel via air currents, readily infecting susceptible populations in hospitals, prisons, and other crowded locations.

But today, it’s not just TB bacteria that travel so freely; it’s also the global population.

“The rise in drug resistance is definitely a threat for the whole of Europe because people are mobile,” asserts Swedish physician Marieke van der Werf, M.D., Ph.D., head of TB disease at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. “You see people coming from other countries and bringing drug resistance with them. All countries need to be vigilant.”

TB and its drug-resistant forms now afflict significant numbers in India, China, Indonesia, and numerous countries in Europe and Africa. The disease also remains a threat in the United States, where it has long been forgotten by the public. As one U.S. researcher warned, “We cannot delude ourselves into believing that TB has gone away . . . It always looms large.”

A few facts about the global reach of tuberculosis and its drug-resistant forms:

  • Of the 10 countries in the world with the highest burden of MDR-TB, nine are in the WHO European Region.
  • 88% of MDR-TB cases occur in middle- or high-income countries.
  • Worldwide, the TB treatment success rate is about 75%. Six European countries have treatment success rates below 60%.
  • Nine European countries have fatal TB outcomes higher than 10%.
  • India accounts for about 27% of TB deaths.
  • Southeast Asia has one-fourth of the world’s population yet nearly half of TB cases and deaths.
  • China has the third largest TB burden in the world, with more than 900,000 new cases per year — 16% of all new cases worldwide.

How to Stop Drug-Resistant TB: New Drugs, Disinfected Air

The World Health Organization aims to halt the TB epidemic by 2030, an ambitious target that will require dramatic reductions in TB deaths and new cases and major increases in MDR-TB treatment success.

To get anywhere near these goals, the world must accelerate its response to the new TB epidemic.

“The gap between need and action is arguably greater for tuberculosis than any other disease of global public health importance,” argues Poonam Khetrapal Singh, M.D., regional director of WHO’s South East Asia region.

Technological breakthroughs are desperately needed, including a vaccine and more effective, less toxic drugs. “We cannot hope to end TB without dramatically shorter, simpler and better treatments,” says Mel Spigelman, M.D., president of TB Alliance.

The Alliance, a not-for-profit network of public and private partners — governments, biotech companies, academic research institutes — was formed to advance TB drug development and has medications in its pipeline, though treatments may be years off.

What can be done more immediately?

One promising strategy is air disinfection in hospitals.

What if those airborne TB microbes could be killed instantly before they had a chance to waft through hospital corridors, lobbies, and cafeterias and be inhaled by vulnerable patients? With the advent of plasma technology, that scenario is now a reality.

Currently deployed European hospitals, ultra-low-energy plasma devices have become an effective — and cost-effective — weapon against a long list of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and, of course, multiple drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The same technology also kills fungal and viral particles on contact, allowing hospitals to reduce the spread of influenza, norovirus, and other highly infectious diseases.

Of course, it will take far more than new drugs and disinfected air to wipe out tuberculosis. Other critical strategies include:

  • Improved diagnosing. TB is simply not on the radar of many doctors, so they fail to order the chest X-rays or lung fluid testing necessary for a TB diagnosis; instead, they may attribute coughing and chest pain to air pollution and prescribe antibiotics or cough syrup. One study found medical practitioners in India failed to provide to follow the standard of care for 65% of patients presenting with symptoms.
  • Better training and mentoring for healthcare workers. Many cases of MDR-TB become XDR-TB because the complex and arduous treatment is poorly managed. More substantial training can halt this tragic situation.
  • Improved patient access to treatment and follow-up. Nations must dramatically increase TB-related budgets, allowing for more financial and nutritional support for patients and their families.

Modern strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis have been around for as many as 20,000 years and may have killed more humans than any other microbial pathogen. Famous victims include Egyptian King Tutankhamen, English writer George Orwell, Czech novelist Franz Kafka, and American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

When the cure was developed, in the mid-20th century, scientists were hopeful this “dread disease,” as novelist Charles Dickens called it, would be wiped out in short order.

Scientists today are more realistic but no less hopeful.

The Fray Over Formaldehyde

The presence of formaldehyde in everything from embalming fluid and hair straighteners to plywood adhesives and varnishes has prompted toxicologists and other researchers to scrutinise the chemical’s potential health impacts on a wide range of adults.

One of the first studies to examine the effects on children, a 1979 survey of 275 potential cases of at-home exposure, found concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 3 parts per million in residents’ living rooms and bedrooms. Researchers documented eye, nose and throat irritation in about 60 percent of the children they saw (75 percent of adults) and coughing and wheezing in 70 percent of the kids (double the percentage in adults).

In the decades since then, researchers say, stricter indoor air standards and lower formaldehyde levels in building materials and consumer products have afforded more protection to adults and children alike. The World Health Organization, for example, now recommends a 30-minute exposure limit of 81 parts per billion for the general public, to prevent sensory irritation.

But further efforts to reduce the gas in new classrooms and other buildings have met stiff resistance. Industry groups like the Formaldehyde Panel assert in adverts that the chemical “is a natural part of our world” and have called it a “critical, commercially valuable, and basic building block in our modern society”.

Naturally occurring in low concentrations, formaldehyde’s reputation as a chemical irritant at higher concentrations is due in large part to its ready absorption by the mucous membranes that protect the eyes and respiratory tract. The European Chemicals Agency and the US National Toxicology Program have labelled it a “presumed” and “known” carcinogen respectively. In fact, researchers believe the gas can harm humans in three ways: as a carcinogen, as a toxin and as an allergen.

Evidence of a clear association between formaldehyde and asthma remains controversial; a 2011 research review by a US National Academy of Sciences panel cast doubt on suggested links to asthma, respiratory cancers, leukaemia and other health problems. The panel, however, agreed with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusions that formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause respiratory lesions, as well as cancer in the nose, nasal cavity and upper throat.

Hal Levin, founder of the Building Ecology Research Group, based in Santa Cruz, California, believes that emissions of volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde) and semi-volatile organic compounds from building materials and furnishings are among the biggest contributors to poor indoor air quality in schools. Proper ventilation can help dilute the concentration of these pollutants, he says. But a far better long-term solution, he argues, is using materials that have eliminated them or greatly reduced their presence from the start. “The solution to pollution is not dilution,” he says. “It’s source control.”

Despite the growing evidence of harm, however, formaldehyde remains a common ingredient in building components ranging from fibreboard to flooring, particularly within mobile homes and portable classrooms. In the USA high levels of the chemical were discovered in emergency trailers used to house tens of thousands of people left homeless by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. And from a recent specification sheet for portables used by Seattle Public Schools, local architects concluded that a typical building’s insulation, decking and wall sheathing all “most likely” contain formaldehyde.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stricter emission limits on composite wood products, but the rules have yet to be finalised after years of wrangling.

For Levin, the delay in minimising a known danger – especially in classrooms – comes down to values. “And I think the take-home message for schools is that we all profess to value children’s health and learning,” he says, “but we don’t put our money where our mouths are.”

Author: Bryn Nelson
Republished via Mosaic.
Original article found here.

Novaerus Closes the Infection Control Loop with Defend 1050, All-in-One Air Disinfection and Purification Device

The Defend 1050 is a medical-grade, portable device that uses a combination of plasma and filter technology to safely disinfect and purify indoor air, supplementing surface and hand hygiene for comprehensive infection control.

Dublin, Ireland, June 28, 2018 – Novaerus, an Irish company specialising in non-chemical air disinfection using patented ultra-low energy plasma, today announced the launch of the Defend 1050. The Defend 1050 is a portable, easy to use device ideal for rapid disinfection and purification of the air in large spaces and high-risk situations such as operating theatres, ICUs, IVF labs, emergency and waiting rooms, and construction zones.

The Defend 1050 uses ultra-low energy plasma technology – a highly effective method of rapid pathogen destruction – and a multi-stage high performance filter system from Camfil® to reduce infection, adsorb odours, neutralise volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and trap particulate as small as 0.3µm.

Independent tests completed to date show that the Defend 1050 at max. speed reduces:

  • Mycobacterium smegmatis (surrogate for Mycobacterium tuberculosis) by 97% in 30 minutes (30m3 space)
  • Influenza A by 99.9% in 10-20 minutes (28.5m3 space)
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis by 99.9% in 15 minutes (30m3 space)
  • Aspergillus niger by 99.99% in 30 minutes (15.9m3 space)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) by 100% in 6 minutes (16m3 space)
  • VOCs at a clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 596 m3/hr
  • PM1.0 at a CADR of 860 m3/hr (19.7m3 space)
  • PM2.5 at a CADR of 870 m3/hr (19.7m3 space)

The Defend 1050 combines six coils of Novaerus’ patented, NASA-tested, ultra-low energy plasma technology with a M5 pre-filter, a genuine H13 HEPA filter certified in accordance with EN-1822, and carbon/molecular filter from Camfil, a world leader in high quality air filtration.

“We created the Defend 1050 in response to a growing demand from our customers for a mobile, rapid remediation solution for airborne pathogens and VOCs in high-risk situations,” said Dr. Kevin Devlin, EVP of product at Novaerus. “As a problem solver, the Defend 1050 is the perfect complement to our filter-free units, the Protect 800 and Protect 200, which are designed to be operated continuously to maintain optimal indoor air quality.”

Since 2009, Novaerus has been researching and developing plasma technology that is unmatched in its ability to safely destroy airborne pathogens that lead to infection in populated indoor spaces. The patented technology uses short-exposure, ultra-low energy plasma that has been tested and shown by several respected laboratories – including Airmid, Aerosol, Microbac, and Ames – to deactivate pathogens on contact.

“We now know conclusively that infection can be transmitted on air currents over large distances, by direct and indirect contact or a combination of all three routes.” said Dr. Felipe Soberon, chief technology officer at Novaerus. “The Defend 1050 is ideal for mitigating the risk of airborne dissemination of infection and contamination of surfaces and hands by reducing the bioburden in the air.”

Many air cleaning methods in use by healthcare facilities today rely on filters to capture pathogens. But without deactivating those pathogens first, the filter can become a safe haven for viable pathogens to colonise. The Novaerus plasma technology solves that problem by killing airborne pathogens before they become trapped in the filter.

“Novaerus has done an incredible job of bringing together the benefits of their patented plasma technology and our high-performance filters”, said Paul Flanagan, general manager of Camfil Ireland, “As an emerging global leader in portable non-chemical air disinfection, Novaerus is a natural partner for us. By being embedded in Novaerus units, Camfil’s filters can be deployed at the point of care, when and where they are needed most.”

The Defend 1050 can be moved easily by staff and plugged into any power outlet. It has five fan speeds to accommodate different room sizes and noise level requirements.

The Defend 1050 is now available for ordering in Europe and for pre-order in the USA.

About Novaerus

Novaerus is on a mission to reduce indoor airborne pollutants that lead to infection, allergies, asthma, and irritation. We envision a world where indoor spaces foster rather than detract from human health, productivity, and wellbeing. The patented plasma technology used in Novaerus portable devices was invented in Ireland in 2006. Clinical trials began in Europe in 2008 and a radical upgrade of the technology was completed in 2011. In 2016, Novaerus purchased Plasma Air and sister company, Aerisa, adding HVAC bipolar ionization technology to our portfolio and expanding into industrial and commercial applications.

For more information about Novaerus, visit

About Camfil

For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.

The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 28 manufacturing sites, six R&D centres, local sales offices in 26 countries, and 4,180 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at

The Bugs in our Buildings

Meet the researchers looking into the microbial communities of indoor spaces.

University of Oregon researchers Jessica Green and G Z ‘Charlie’ Brown call it the Pickle Box. This former walk-in storage unit for pickles, remodelled into an enclosed climate chamber, is helping scientists understand how people shed their own ‘microbial cloud’ in a built environment. The bacteria, fungi and other microbes that we leave behind in indoor spaces – a kind of calling card – may help determine the character of a building’s entire microbial community, or its microbiome.

“We’re finding that individuals have quite a strong and unique microbial cloud, and so every person that’s inside is contributing their microbiome to the built environment,” says Green, Director of the university’s Biology and the Built Environment Center. From other studies, the same seems to be true of pets.

Most research on how a building’s design and operation may affect its indoor environmental quality has been based on physics or chemistry, Green says. With advanced DNA sequencing technology and an explosion of information about what researchers are calling ‘invisible ecosystems’ within buildings, however, researchers are beginning to focus on the microscopic menagerie inhabiting structures such as offices, hospitals and portable classrooms. Astronauts are even tracking the microbiome within the International Space Station.

We already know that improper design, use or maintenance of a building can harm human health – Legionnaire’s disease can spread through water systems while serious infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus can spread through hospitals. Rather than focus on a specific pathogen or allergen, however, Green and other scientists hope to gain a more comprehensive view of risks and benefits by surveying entire microbial communities and their environments.

In a study of a Portland hospital, for example, Green and colleagues found that window-ventilated rooms had much more diverse airborne bacteria than mechanically ventilated rooms. In the spaces ventilated via windows, the microbes’ gene sequences aligned more closely with those found on plant leaves and in soils. In the mechanically ventilated rooms, the gene sequences aligned with human-dwelling microbes found on the skin and in the mouth.

In a separate study of a university building that uses a ventilation system called a ‘night flush’ to efficiently heat and cool the space and replenish the air, Green and Brown found that the system also flushed out many of the microbes shed from human occupants during the day. “So that human signal washes away,” Green says. The results suggest an intriguing application of building microbiome analysis: using changes in the microbial signature to assess how well an indoor space is ventilated. More broadly, Green sees a future in which biosensors quickly measure the air quality of an indoor space through the composite traits of its microbiome.

Among the research efforts elsewhere, a team from the University of Texas recently secured funding to examine the microbiomes of portable classrooms in the hot and humid air typical of the southern and south-eastern USA. In particular, they plan to study how differences in air pressure and airflow patterns within the portables – which can change as the structures age – influence the types of microbes found in the classroom spaces.

Air might be drawn in through a crawlspace, an attic or the walls, for example, changing the mix of bacteria swirling around in the indoor environment. If the researchers can understand how these factors influence the microbiome within typical portable classrooms, they might be able to draw comparisons with next-generation portables designed with improved ventilation in mind.

Researchers are also tracking the microbiomes of ultra-green buildings, like the nearly self-sufficient Bullitt Center in Seattle, to see whether their microscopic inhabitants are fundamentally different from those in other structures. “This building is so unique, and it was an opportunity to see it from the point of occupancy out, so we could kind of see how the bugs develop over time,” says Scott Meschke, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington.

If scientists can better understand these microbial tenants, Green says, they can begin exploring the impacts on a building’s human occupants. “Given that we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors, it’s a very reasonable hypothesis that we get a lot of our microbes from the built environment,” she says. “That begs the question: Can we design and operate the buildings that we live, work and play in to have an optimal indoor microbiome that’s conducive to health?”

Author: Bryn Nelson
Republished via Mosaic.
Original article found here

Fighting Superbugs: We Have the Power

Health officials around the world agree: the superbug crisis has reached the “red alert” stage.

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases; penicillin alone has saved about 200 million lives. But thanks to overuse in humans and animals, antibiotics are losing their power to fight bacteria.

Infections once easily treated with penicillin now require rounds and rounds of multiple antibiotics. Eventually, some bacterial strains will become untreatable, rendering C-sections, hip replacements, and chemotherapy too risky for patients.

“[Antibiotic resistance] is very serious indeed – it’s killing people around the world at the rate of hundreds of thousands of year,” cautioned one infectious disease epidemiologist. “And we all expect it to get worse if something isn’t done now.”

But what can be done?

Health officials’ top priority is the development of new antibiotics, and in 2016, 193 countries signed a United Nation declaration to encourage drug research. “We need governments, the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and the agricultural sector to follow through on their commitments to save modern medicine,” said England’s chief medical officer.

But developing new antibiotics is a long, slow, and very expensive process. It can take 10 years to bring a new drug to market and 23 years for the investment to start paying off.

The world can’t afford to sit and wait.

In the meantime, we all — governments, employers, individuals — can take immediate action to combat the superbug crisis. The strategy must be two-pronged: 1.) halting antibiotic overuse, in both humans and farm animals, and 2.) preventing infections.

Stopping Antibiotic Overuse — in Humans and Livestock

Antibiotics are useless against viral infections, such as colds, coughs, bronchitis, the flu, and many ear and sinus infections. And yet, out of habit or in response to patient demand, doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics for these conditions. In the United States, more than 30 per cent of oral antibiotic prescriptions — about 47 million per year — are unwarranted, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Worldwide, medical authorities are working to halt this practice. In 2015, the U.S. government set a goal of reducing inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by at least half by 2020, and The National Health Service of England reduced antibiotic prescriptions by 5 per cent in one year and is striving for further reductions.

At the same time, behavioural scientists are studying ways of spurring doctors to stop prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, and medical organizations are educating patients to stop requesting them. As one doctor noted, it’s an uphill battle: “For some reason, faith in the body’s natural ability to heal itself has waned, and everyone believes that an antibiotic is the only possible cure that could help.”

Another critical strategy in the fight against superbugs: curbing antibiotic overuse in cattle, chicken, turkeys, and pigs. Two-thirds of antibiotics consumed in the European Union and 70 per cent consumed in the United States are given to healthy farm animals, either to promote growth or prevent diseases common in overcrowded conditions.

This is no small problem, as antibiotic-resistant bacteria jump easily from the animals to humans, via farmworkers, anyone handling raw and contaminated meat, and anyone swimming in or drinking water contaminated with animal faeces.

The U.S. government, a decade behind the European Union, has finally enacted rules to limit antibiotic use in livestock. But the rules have loopholes and don’t ban all antibiotic use, and some countries have no such laws.

Retailers and consumers need to pick up the slack: Restaurants must stop selling antibiotic-laden meat, and consumers must stop buying it.

Progress is happening, albeit slowly. Chains such as Subway, McDonald’s, and In-N-Out Burger are shifting away from meat raised with antibiotics. But Olive Garden, Starbucks, and Burger King are among those receiving an “F” grade for taking no such action.

Preventing Infections That Require Antibiotics

Halting antibiotic overuse is imperative, but it’s only part of the superbug solution. We must also work to prevent the bacterial infections that have become harder to treat, as well as the viral infections that are treated inappropriately with antibiotics. After all, if fewer people show up at the doctor with a sore throat, whatever its cause, fewer antibiotics will be prescribed.

Preventing infection can be accomplished with simple measures:

  • Increasing vaccination rates. Anyone with the flu is more susceptible to a superbug infection, yet flu vaccination rates in the United States hover below 45 per cent for adults and are dismal in Europe as well.
  • Better handwashing practices. Seventy per cent of adults admit they’ve bypassed the soap in public bathrooms, and most of us don’t wash for the recommended 20 seconds. It’s important to wash with soap and warm water after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, feeding your pet, gardening, or visiting a sick person.
  • Cleaning the air. Even universal handwashing can’t contain influenza, because the virus can spread via airborne particles, which contain 8.8 times more virus than surface particles. Countless other viral and bacterial particles waft through our buildings, day and night, spreading all manner of infections. Yet today’s technology makes it easy and cost-effective for employers, schools, and medical facilities to rid the indoor air of these pathogens.

Superbugs won’t be vanquished any time soon, but the good news is, we’re well equipped to control the conditions that unleashed them. 

The Superbug Crisis is Here – And it is Dire

Back in 1999, infectious disease specialists were worried. Antibiotics, the most important medical development of the 20th century, were losing their power to combat dangerous bacteria, and few new drugs were in development.

As a British medical report noted at the time: “In the closing years of the century, there is an uneasy sense that micro-organisms are ‘getting ahead’ and that therapeutic options are narrowing.”

Today, infectious disease specialists are no longer uneasy. They’re panicked.

Overuse of antibiotics has unleashed “superbugs,” harmful bacterial strains resistant to the drugs that revolutionized medicine in the 1940s.

In the United States, more than 2 million people are infected by drug-resistant bugs each year, and 23,000 die of their infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Globally, drug-resistant bacteria cause an estimated 700,000 deaths annually and are on pace to kill 10 million people a year by 2050 — more than currently die from cancer.

“If we are not careful,” a CDC official cautioned, “the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a lifesaving antibiotic for somebody who has a deadly infection.”

The situation is so dire that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its first list of “priority pathogens”— bacteria with such severe antibiotic resistance they’re considered urgent threats to human health. WHO is imploring governments and pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of new antibiotics.

“The pipeline is practically dry,” said a WHO official upon release of the report. Companies have little incentive to invest in drugs that can take a decade to develop and are usually used as short-term treatment.

Meanwhile, as drug companies dawdle, superbugs proliferate.

A study of 48 children’s hospitals, for example, tracked infections of Enterobacteriaceae, a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli, and found the percentage of cases resistant to multiple antibiotics increased 7-fold from 2007 to 2015, a finding the lead author called “ominous.”

In the study, children with resistant strains of the bacteria remained hospitalized, on average, for four more days than the children with more easily treated infections. Enterobacteriaceae, on the WHO’s list of priority pathogens, are responsible for many serious, sometimes fatal, infections that arise in hospitals and nursing homes.

Worldwide, infections once easily treated with penicillin, like tuberculosis, now require rounds and rounds of multiple antibiotics. Treating a drug-resistant strain of TB can now require 14,000 pills, take up to two years to treat, and cost nearly 30 times more than TB that responds to conventional antibiotics.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of bacteria around the world have already developed resistance to antibiotics.

What happens when the first-line and second-line antibiotics fail? Minor infections can become deadly, and doctors resort to using drugs previously shelved because they were considered too toxic.

At some point, for some infections, we may be left without any drugs at all.

In 2015, Canadian researchers found, the only remaining oral drug used for gonorrhoea treatment failed in 6.7 per cent of the patients at a Toronto clinic. Doctors now have just one effective treatment left: an injectable antibiotic called ceftriaxone.

And in 2016, for the first time, an American patient was infected with a strain of E. coli resistant to one of the “last resort” antibiotics, colistin, a drug that lost favour in the 1970s because of its harsh side effects, including respiratory distress and kidney damage.

The patient recovered after being treated by a different drug, but health officials fear this incident is a bad omen. “It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently,” a CDC official said at the time.

The Dawn of the Superbug Era

Historically speaking, the rise and fall of antibiotics has happened in a blip. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, began production on a large scale in the 1940s. Discovery of new antibiotics peaked in the 1950s and 60s, but no new class has been developed since 1984.

“If antibiotics were telephones, we would still be calling each other using clunky rotary dials and copper lines,” quipped one microbiologist.

These old-school drugs worked well — until they didn’t. The dawn of the superbug era can be traced largely to overuse of antibiotics.

Antibiotics are worthless against viral infections like the common cold, flu, bronchitis, many sinus infections, and most sore throats, yet patients routinely exit the doctor’s office with an antibiotic prescription in hand.

Each year, more than 30% of U.S. oral antibiotic prescriptions — including half of all prescriptions for acute respiratory conditions — are unwarranted, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Consider the sore throat: Only about 18 per cent of adults who show up at the doctor with a sore throat test positive for strep and actually need antibiotics. Yet, the JAMA study found, 72 per cent of sore-throat patients are prescribed these drugs.

What’s the harm beyond wasted money?

Well, the unwarranted antibiotic, while doing zilch to fight the virus, will destroy some of the “good,” infection-fighting bacteria in the body. At the same time, other bacteria will outwit the drug and multiply. Over time, these drug-resistant bacteria will spread to others. That’s just one of the many ways bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics.

Also fueling the superbug crisis: the common practice of giving antibiotics to livestock to make them grow faster and stay healthy in their overcrowded facilities. This practice accounts for 80 percent of antibiotic use in the U.S.

It is imperative that these trends be reversed. Otherwise, as the director general of WHO cautioned, “a common disease like gonorrhea may become untreatable. Doctors facing patients will have to say, ‘I’m sorry – there’s nothing I can do for you.’” 

Legionnaires’ Disease: No Longer a Mystery, Still a Threat

In the summer of 1976, reports of a mysterious and terrifying infection outbreak dominated American news: 34 people died suddenly and 220 were hospitalized after visiting Philadelphia.

Patients developed headaches, chest pain, chills, and fevers up to 107 degrees. Autopsies of the deceased revealed lungs that resembled Brillo pads. Was it swine flu? Food poisoning? “Super” gonorrhoea? A terrorist attack? Theories abounded.

Months later, concluding the most extensive medical investigation in history, a microbiologist peered into a microscope and identified the cause: a previously unknown bacteria. Officials named it Legionella after the victims, military veterans who’d attended a convention of the American Legion.

Today, Legionnaires’ disease is no mystery. We know where it lurks and how it’s spread. We know between 8,000 and 18,000 people in the United States are hospitalized yearly with Legionnaires’ disease, along with tens of thousands more around the globe. We know the bacteria kills 10 per cent of those who contract the disease —  and 25 per cent of those stricken in a healthcare facility.

And yet, Legionella continues to wreak havoc, because little is done to contain it.

“Legionnaires’ disease in hospitals is widespread, deadly, and preventable,” said a CDC official, Anne Schuchat, M.D.

The disease garners headlines after mass outbreaks — on cruise ships, at conventions, at healthcare facilities — but these outbreaks account for just 4 per cent of total cases in the United States.

Incidence of Legionnaires’ disease more than tripled in the United States between 2000 and 2011. Worldwide, cases are vastly underreported. In England and Wales, a national surveillance program detects clusters of the disease and investigates the sources of infection. Today, as researchers have noted, Legionnaires’ is considered “an increasingly important disease from a public health standpoint.”

How Legionella Spreads

The Legionella bacteria actually cause two conditions: Legionnaires’ disease, a virulent form of pneumonia that must be treated with antibiotics, and Pontiac fever, a mild, flu-like condition that resolves within a week. Since Pontiac fever resembles other conditions and doesn’t require medical attention, many cases of Legionella infection go unreported — and the source remains unidentified.

Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever aren’t contagious. Patients become infected by inhaling the airborne droplets of contaminated water, typically at facilities with large water systems, such as convention centres, prisons, schools, and healthcare facilities. (Legionella is found naturally in lakes and streams, but in amounts too low to cause disease.)

Investigators eventually traced the 1976 Philadelphia outbreak to contaminated vapour that rose from air conditioning cooling units atop a hotel. The droplets fell to the street below, where they were inhaled by pedestrians and sucked into the hotel lobby by fans on the side of the building.

In the decades since, air conditioning cooling towers have been ground zero for numerous Legionnaires’ cases, including the largest recorded outbreak, at a hospital in Spain, where some 800 patients were thought to have been infected.

Other Legionella breeding grounds have been identified, too: hot tubs, fountains, showerheads, whirlpool baths, hotel ice machines, and supermarket mist sprayers. At a flower show in the Netherlands and a fair in Belgium, attendees contracted Legionnaires’ disease from whirlpool spas in the exhibition halls. At a South Dakota restaurant and a hospital in Wisconsin, dozens were infected by mist sprayed from decorative fountains.

Legionella also thrives in respiratory devices such as humidifiers, vaporizers, nebulizers, and can grow in parts of building water systems that are continually wet, such as pipes, valves, and fittings.

Who’s Susceptible to Legionella Infection

Those at greatest risk of falling ill from Legionella are the medically vulnerable: people over age 50, current or former smokers, diabetes or lung disease patients, and anyone with a weakened immune system. That’s why hospital outbreaks are particularly deadly.

Still, relatively healthy people can become infected, especially if they work near contaminated water sources. For example, employees at wastewater treatment plants may be at elevated risk for infection, as sewage and aeration ponds can contain very high concentrations of Legionella.

Patients typically come down with symptoms within 2 to 10 days after exposure. Infection rates are highest in the summer when air conditioners kick into heavy use and water chemistry changes due to warmer outdoor temperatures. But Legionnaires’ disease can strike at any time of the year.

Preventing the Growth and Spread of Legionella

For facility maintenance managers, preventing Legionella infection has become a serious responsibility. After a deadly outbreak at a UK art centre, caused by a contaminated air conditioning system, the centre’s governing council and architect were charged with corporate manslaughter. Though they were acquitted after a trial, they were fined for safety breaches.

Protecting patients and patrons from Legionella infection requires vigilance on two fronts: keeping water systems clean and cleaning the surrounding air.

For years, prevention efforts at hotels, hospitals and other large venues have focused solely on the water half of the equation. Legionella bacteria are wily and hardy, easily adapting to their environment, surviving for long periods — even in chlorinated drinking water systems — and then pouncing when conditions are just right.

Water temperature plays a big role in Legionella growth. Because Legionella thrives in warm water, experts recommend hot water temperature be kept at 55 degrees Celsius (131 °F) or above. But this can be a challenge; in some countries, regulations that keep residents and hotel patrons from being scalded by showers also keep maximum temperatures too low to halt Legionella growth.

Stagnating water also allows Legionella to flourish. Facilities must take precautions during hotel renovations or off-peak seasons; hospitals must know which showers are rarely used.

Countless other water-related scenarios can promote Legionella growth. An inadequate disinfectant is introduced. Vibrations from construction cause a change in water pressure. Heating or filtering processes degrade water quality, using up extra disinfectant.

Legionella water management programs are both critical and complex, typically requiring expertise from microbiologists, industrial hygienists, or environmental health specialists.

Also critical — but much simpler — are strategies to clean the air.

In order for Legionella-contaminated vapour to be inhaled and attack the lungs, the bacteria must remain airborne. So, prevention efforts must focus on making the air less hospitable for the bacteria to survive and proliferate.

At this point, much remains unknown about how precisely Legionella is transmitted from water to air. It’s unclear, for example, what air temperature and humidity are best for the bacteria to thrive and how long Legionella can survive in the air.

What we do know: Legionella can travel long distances. In a Danish study of a Pontiac fever outbreak, bacteria were recovered 200 meters downwind of an aeration pond at a water treatment plant. And epidemiological studies have suggested Legionella can be dispersed greater than 10 kilometres from wastewater treatment plants.

What’s more, certain strains of airborne Legionella can survive for several hours, under the right conditions.

It’s therefore essential for facilities to deploy continuous and strategically placed air purification technology. Novaerus air disinfection technology has been shown in laboratory testing to reduce infectious, gram-negative bacteria like Legionella.

The year following the Philadelphia Legionella outbreak, investigators used blood samples to identify the bacteria as the culprit in other unsolved infection outbreaks, dating back to 1957. But as a documentary of the discovery noted, it is likely that Legionnaires’ disease “has been killing us for thousands of years.”

Now that we know so much more about Legionella — where it thrives, how it’s transmitted, and how to prevent its spread in the water and air — we are well equipped to stop the bacteria in its tracks. 

Sick Building Syndrome: The Triggers

For any given case of sick building syndrome (SBS), the trigger can be hard to pinpoint.


In fact, the mystery is part of the very definition of the syndrome. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency defines SBS as “situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”


But this much is certain: SBS symptoms — headaches, nausea, fatigue, itchy skin, throat irritation, watery eyes, and impaired concentration — are linked with exposure to both chemical and biological contaminants.


Science has not yet identified specific measurements of indoor contaminants that put workers at risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it’s likely that different varieties and amounts of pollutants affect individuals in different ways.


For one building occupant, the gases emanating from cleaning products or new hallway carpeting may be the source of nausea; for another, it may be cooking odors emanating from the hospital kitchen. And what is annoying to one person may be debilitating to another.


Nonetheless, research has identified the most common SBS sources, and anyone responsible for the wellbeing of a facility’s occupants should be aware of them.


First, let’s talk chemicals. Thanks to workplace smoking bans and lower smoking rates, tobacco toxins have become less of a hazard to indoor air quality. However, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) remain a huge threat in the workplace and school environments.


VOCs are toxic gases emitted by the products we walk on, sit on, wear, and use to do our jobs every single day. In other words, carpets, desks, shelving, upholstery, adhesives, copy machines, and personal products such as shampoos, perfumes, lotions, and hand sanitizers. Products needn’t even be scented, or emit obvious odors, to trigger symptoms. Deodorants, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies designated as “unscented” may actually contain chemicals used cover up odors emitted by other ingredients.


What these products have in common: they all contain compounds refined from petroleum, and they’re everywhere.


In fact, indoor concentrations of VOCs are often 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. In urban areas, new research shows, the compounds contribute just as much to air pollution as vehicles.


But VOCs are not the only source of toxins wafting around “sick” buildings. Bacteria, viruses, mold, dust mites, insect droppings, and pollen are among the biological contaminants that can trigger the syndrome.


What’s more, not all the triggers of SBS originate from within the building. About 11 percent of the contaminants — such as vehicle exhaust, construction materials, and tobacco smoke — waft in from the outdoors via vents and windows.


Just as some people are more susceptible to SBS due to their genetic makeup and health status, some buildings are more susceptible due to their construction.


Sick building syndrome dates back to changes in building construction that followed the 1973 oil embargo against the United States. To save on fuel for heating and air conditioning, buildings lowered ventilation standards by two-thirds, requiring a paltry 5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outside air per occupant. In other words, buildings became practically air tight.


These days, U.S. building codes have improved considerably, typically requiring a ventilation rate of 20 cfm per person. However, many older buildings have not been upgraded, and standards vary greatly around the globe. In dense urban areas with limited land for high-rise construction, buildings often lack adequate ventilation.


Besides, workers can experience sick building symptoms even at 20 cfm. According to the Environmental Advisory Council, ventilation rates would have to exceed 53 cfm per person to make SBS vanish.


But ventilation alone can’t clear up the problem — not when a building is cleaned with chemicals that emit VOCs, lined with toxic carpeting, contaminated by mold within the HVAC system, or occupied by staff who wear VOC-emitting perfumes.


A building’s interior design can also contribute to SBS. For example, the arrangement of cubicles and offices can compromise indoor air flow and exacerbate the itchy eyes, respiratory problems, nausea and other symptoms triggered by biological and chemical pollutants.


In short, indoor environments are highly complex, and occupants are exposed to a mix of chemical and biological contaminants from a vast array of sources.


However, just because the cause of SBS is complex does not mean the solution is equally complex. In fact, technology has progressed to the point where a single remedy — air purification — can, quite effectively, rid a room of pollutants as different as nausea-inducing gases and allergy-inducing pollen.