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Rachel Lekman explores the issue of indoor air quality

We’ve just had a wrap up meeting with the charity Global Action Plan following our involvement in their annual awareness raising event ‘Clean Air Day’ held on the 8th October and we’re now looking at lots of possible initiatives to keep our relationship going.

For me, this is about more than just being seen to support a worthy cause – although it undoubtedly is. Poor air quality is responsible for so much harm that to do nothing is simply not an option any more.

Last week the Guardian carried the shocking news that air pollution was responsible for the death of half a million babies across the globe, but even without the horrendous fatalities, air quality is adversely affecting people’s health and wellbeing.

The technology already exists to help introduce fresh air AND do so in a highly energy-efficient way.

Rachel Lekman Rachel Lekman Channel marketing manager

A fresh feeling

For me, this is also about saving the planet by conserving energy. 

At the moment, a lot remains unknown about the current global pandemic – COVID-19, but one thing the majority of scientists do seem to agree on is that risk is mitigated by increasing the amount of fresh air. This is why outdoor spaces are seen as less risky than unventilated indoor spaces.

Minimising risk in buildings therefore means finding ways of increasing the amount of fresh air introduced into the internal spaces. In the summer, this could mean opening as many windows as possible – if that was possible.

As we start to enter the winter period, finding ways to increase ventilation in these buildings becomes a two-pronged challenge.

Firstly, you need to bring in outdoor air without also bringing in any pollution from outside. 

Secondly, you need to be able to bring in the colder outdoor air, to replace the heated indoor air, without just ‘chucking away’ all the energy you’ve invested in heating.

Don’t throw energy away

And that is where technology called mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) can play an important role.

MVHR uses clever engineering to pass the outgoing air over the incoming air, so that without actually touching, the heat energy from one is passed to the other, meaning the incoming air uses less energy to reach room temperature.

Our own version of MVHR is called Lossnay and it has a unique paper core that separates the two air flows but can capture about 80% of the outgoing heat.

If the indoor air is heated to 20 degrees Centigrade for example and the outdoor air is under 10 degrees, then the MVHR helps bring the incoming air quickly up to 16 degrees, meaning you only need energy to heat a further 4 degrees, rather than expending energy to heat it up from 10 degrees.

Effective filters

In addition to preserving and reducing energy use, Lossnay comes with filters that help block outdoor pollutants and irritants such as pollen, helping asthma suffers.

Independent laboratory tests on the paper core have also demonstrated its effectiveness in blocking a test virus solution of E.coli phage φX174.

This is one of the smallest viruses known, with a diameter of approximately 20 nanometers and is used for the “ISO 16604 Clothing for protection against contact with blood and body fluids – Determination of resistance of protective clothing materials to penetration by blood-borne pathogens – Test method using φX 174 bacteriophage”.

In contrast, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2002 had a particle diameter of 80-160 nanometers which is 4 to 8 times bigger than the E.coli test virus (There are currently no available laboratory tests with COVID-19, but it is not thought to be dissimilar in size to SARS).

In conclusion

There are few certainties at present with the current pandemic but we do know that increasing the amount of fresh air is thought to help lower risk.

Winter is coming so we do need to find ways of removing stale indoor air and introducing fresh, outdoor air.

Thankfully, the technology already exists to help introduce fresh air AND do so in a highly energy-efficient way.


Rachel Lekman is channel marketing manager