December 12th, 2021
A study has been launched into the feasibility of using air cleaners to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in 30 primary schools in Bradford.
As the UK is now out of lockdown, there is a renewed focus on ensuring that workplaces, facilities, and all manner of public spaces are safe for use. The risk of infection from the virus causing COVID-19 infection remains at an all-time high as new variants continue to be announced. High-density areas, such as schools with children from different households mingling under one roof, can act as an incubator, with some cold and flu viruses that can survive in the air and on surfaces for up to 72 hours. As we adjust to this new reality, better hygiene practices have become the norm in our everyday routines. As a result, there is an increasing demand for effective disinfectant solutions that can also avoid placing unnecessary restrictions on any environment. This has opened the opportunity for a tried and tested form of disinfection – ultraviolet (UV) technology.
There are three types of UV wavelengths found in sunlight. First, there’s UV-A and UV-B, which you may recognise from sunscreen labels. Then there is UV-C, a wavelength that has a powerful germicidal property and is now stepping in to provide an extra level of protection alongside vaccinations, masks, and social distancing. The efficacy of UV-C as a powerful form of disinfection for air, surfaces, objects, and water is well known and has been scientifically tested over the years. The technology has proven highly effective against all pathogens tested to date, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.
UV-C as a technology isn’t new – it’s been used in hospitals and agriculture for decades to disinfect equipment, food and produce. The power of UV-C lighting for disinfection is well known, with applications widely tested since the 1930s and 1940s. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a resurgence of interest in this relatively undersung technology.
For more than 35 years, Signify (the former Philips Lighting) has been at the forefront of UV technology with a proven track record of innovation and strong application expertise. Recently, new families of UV-C products have been launched – portable, and fixed ceiling/wall mounted air units, disinfection chambers for objects, and surface luminaires that disinfect environments when no one is present.
The Bradford school’s pilot
Recently, the University of Leeds announced that a study has been launched into the feasibility of using air cleaners to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in 30 primary schools in Bradford. Among other technologies, eight out of the 30 schools are trialling Ultraviolet (UV-C) technology. This is an air purification approach that involves cycling the air through an enclosed unit where it is exposed to an ultraviolet germicidal light, which inactivates microorganisms, including viruses. The UV-C “Active Air” devices, installed by Powercor, are designed to continuously disinfect the air in any indoor space. The devices can be installed on a wall or on a ceiling across many environments, such as restaurants and bars, offices, shops and schools. Fans inside the device pull the air in from the room; the air then passes through the specially designed and contained UV-C chamber to disinfect the air. The clean air is then recirculated out of the device into the room.
Poor air quality is a major cause of illness, and children are particularly vulnerable to its effects. Throughout the pandemic, many students fell ill due to the virus, posing a severe risk to their and their family’s health. The UV-C devices installed are intended to provide an extra layer of protection for the students, staff and visitors in the schools, providing the highest quality air, helping to reduce sickness and absenteeism.