Hydroxyls Improve Indoor Air Quality

The easiest and most effective way to restore your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) to healthy levels is through the use of an air cleaner or purifier, and hydroxyls are proving the secret weapon in the fight against infection and unpleasant odours.

Air cleaning applications involving hydroxyls, the earths natural air and surface cleaning process, are becoming more and more prevalent across a wide range of facilities internationally. These applications range from  long term care facilities to hotels, fire and flood recovery support requested by insurance companies, property management, educational and sports facilities, and in industrial, office, recreational and even home settings generally. 

Outdoor air quality varies greatly depending on everything from wind and wind direction, even in urban areas, to traffic pollutants and particulates, and of course, viruses or bacteria that travel in the air, in turn, cause a deterioration in indoor air quality levels.

Air cleaning can reduce the levels of particles in the indoor air that comes from outdoors. The most effective ways to improve your indoor air are to reduce, or remove, the sources of pollutants through filtration and to ventilate with cleaned outdoor air.

The Problem with Ventilation Alone

A direct ventilation approach through open windows or direct air intakes, delivers fresh air directly to the breathing zone and aims to improve air quality of inhaled air within the building. Unfortunately, this is not always the most efficient way from the energy usage point of view, especially in winter when the system is taking in cold air all the time. The best way to prevent indoor contaminants is by eliminating them through proper air filtration. 

Problems arise over time, with sporadic or poor ventilation. The obvious concern is having dirty, humid air re-circulating in your home or office causing even more concern in even the more modern ‘superwarm’ and energy efficient buildings. Here, small ions or charged particles, often lasting only milliseconds before losing their charge are extremely active in keeping particles and viruses in suspension for longer..

Small particles, charged by naturally occurring ionizers, rather than being collected at the filters, can sometimes be left suspended in the air to exacerbate, for example, asthma symptoms, or spread bacteria virus among the occupants. Small particles of dust, bacteria or virus in the air can pass through your nose or mouth and get into your lungs. For someone who does not tend to suffer too much from respiratory issues, it would fortunately, be hard to notice a difference.

The risk factors for air conditioning spreading COVID-19 is still largely undocumented but seems to be less about the air conditioning system itself, than the conditions it often creates indoors and the conditions created to propagate the virus among the occupants.

The easiest way to reduce indoor air pollution and improve indoor air quality efficiently is by driving less cold air through the ventilation system i.e. reducing the external air changes in the building. By increasing the quantity of both positively and negatively charged oxygen ions and increasing the amount of natural air cleaners, for example hydroxyls, in the air, the overall air quality is improved.

The amount of pollutant removal at the air intakes depends on the air flow rate and on the fraction of pollutants removed as the air flows through the media used. Lowering humidity is good to a point, but overly dry air can dehydrate your body. It is really a balance because as humidity increases, particles become heavier and drop to the floor, where you can easily hoover them up. Some units may auto protect mode that will alter the fan speed if the device detects a higher concentration of particles.

Most air cleaners use fans to move air through an air cleaning media. These media largely remove pollutants and combat the issue of micro-dust and mites for example, some indoor air filtration and ionizer units may contain an electrically charged wire, which sends charged molecules into the air in your home.

The most important thing to do when choosing your air purification system is to know the exact size you need, the size of the room, office or occupied space where you are looking to protect the occupants.

Then the next is to see what the most efficient, and safest media are to best clean the air and keep the building occupants safe – and give the public the confidence to return to the business, the restaurant or the office after lockdown.

Improving Indoor Air Quality – Air Purifiers

There are so many products on the market today to clean and sanitize air and surfaces it can be confusing.

From the point of view of sanitising the area and sometimes surfaces, the two main processes you see are Ozone Generators and Hydroxyl Generators. To understand these two products you need to understand science.

In the simplest terms, Ozone mainly (90%) exists in the Stratosphere which is 6-10 miles above the surface of the earth. The majority of ozone resides there to absorb most of the biologically damaging ultraviolet sunlight. So, little ozone resides near the surface (troposphere) at a rate of 10 parts per billion because it is volatile, and even dangerous in high concentrations, to living organisms. If it existed in a rate as little as 70 parts per billion, living organisms would be harmfully effected. Think of a sea of 1 Billion red marbles and only 70 of those are yellow you would get an idea of the low concentrations at which ozone can be a problem.

A good reference article would be Ozone vs Hydroxyls – What’s the Real Deal?

EPA Warnings on Ozone

Ozone exists to break down harmful UV light, stays high in the upper atmosphere and is found only in extremely low concentrations in our daily life. Hydroxyls, on the other hand, exist to cleanse the earth of pollutants and exist at concentrations near 50% in our daily life. So what does all this mean? Science magazine states: ”Hydroxyl radicals are often called the “detergent” in the atmosphere because they control the atmosphere’s capacity to cleanse itself of pollutants.” 

Ozone Generators work and are promoted for use in various industrial applications, such as fire damage recover, BUT, are extremely harmful if not managed appropriately. Rooms being treated with Ozone Generators need to be sealed off, HVAC (air conditioning) systems need to be shut down, and protected, so the Ozone doesn’t start spreading through the building. Enclosed areas cannot be occupied during cleaning.

In the US, the EPA had to come out with warnings on Ozone Generators due to claims made by companies stating it was safe, or indicating it was safe, for use in occupied spaces. The EPA states the harm in being exposed to even low levels of ozone: “Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation.”

Interesting trivia about the EPA: Just because products are registered with the EPA does NOT mean the EPA endorses the product, or even claims it to be safe! The EPA registers products to keep track of who is making them, and how they are being marketed in order to keep consumers safe and properly informed.

Applications of Hydroxyls

Hydroxyl Generators recreate the earth’s natural process to cleanse the air and surfaces. Hydroxyls are generated by water droplets reacting with UV light. Spaces can remain occupied when Hydroxyl Generators are operating so there is no need to vacate the areas being treated. This allows businesses to continue to run as normal with zero down time. The EPA has no warnings at this time about Hydroxyl Generators.

You should always know the products and chemicals that you are using in the workplace, and the possible pitfalls of using them.

Hydroxyl Generators can be and are used them in our homes for a variety of issues, illness prevention and odours being are top of the list. They can even be used to save the contents of a home fire and restore the items so there was no smell of smoke. Some recovery services promote ozone as a medium, but as mentioned, this is not always the safest route. Hydroxyls also serve in dealing with mould issues, especially after flooding events. These applications alone can save businesses, and homes, millions of in damage recovery costs. And these are just a couple of the ’emergency’ applications.

The use of hydroxyl generators in the air purifiers is essentially bringing what the earth uses naturally to clean the air, indoors.

Locker rooms, fitness facilities, day cares, hospitals, clinics, veterinaries, prisons, long term care facilities, sports arenas, nurse’s offices, property management and hotels, and lots more, the applications for hydroxyl based air cleaners are endless.  In this post-pandemic era, the power of hydroxyls in improving indoor air quality has really come to the fore given their now-proven ability to kill bacteria, viruses, eradicate mould, remove odours and VOCs, and more.

We will have more on this topic going forwards and in the meantime if you have any comments or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us directly on our contact page.

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