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‘People are more aware of how important it is to breathe clean air’ – Air quality in the workplace


Naturally, air quality has become a greater topic of discussion with people returning to work in offices, shops, and restaurants. Given how much has changed in other aspects of life, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is purely the result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is not the case however, and neither should it be. The subject of air quality extends far beyond the ongoing pandemic; ensuring proper ventilation in the workplace is no more crucial now than it always has been.

Milosz Przyjalgowski, a leading scientist with a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from NUI Galway, spoke to us as Ireland makes a gradual return to work and the reopening of society and the entertainment sector. Now a research fellow in Cork’s Centre for Advanced Photonics & Process Analysis, Milosz has been instrumental in helping Irish businesses develop innovative solutions to the highest scientific standards.

In collaboration with Enterprise Ireland Gateway, part of his work centres around supporting businesses in research and development. One of those companies is AerNua, an Irish owned company that developed a product that uses a combination of filtration and UV-C light to continuously sterilise the air and remove airborne particles, while the space is occupied, and with an adequate dosage of UV-C to render the virus inactive. Unlike expensive HEPA filters, which require frequent replacement, AerNua's solution is light on maintenance.

AerNua's appliance's have a local interactive touchscreen display and are IoT enabled providing real-time date on air quality, providing the owner with accurate information to make an immediate and informed decision.

“The link between bad air quality, foul air; a so called “miasma,” and disease is a very old one. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Medieval folks, Victorians they all recognised that. Although, it was lacking a scientific foundation and got at some point in 19th Century replaced by germ theory it came back, this time with plenty of science behind it and it really couldn’t be more important now,” Milosz said.

At a time when many business owners are unsure of what the future holds, one thing he said to be aware of is the advantages that Ireland has over its neighbours.

“In general, Ireland would be a good place for outdoor air quality, because we don’t have heavy industry here and enjoy a relatively low population density. Unfortunately, we manage to spoil it, especially during cold months, with our love of fireplaces but also with cars and other low level emissions. All in, in comparison to the rest of Europe, I think Ireland still has a great advantage for air quality,” Milosz said.

While of course it is reassuring to learn that the air that surrounds our homes and businesses is comparatively clean, indoor air quality is a different matter. Especially in cases where groups of people will be spending extended periods of time close to each other, the risk of infectious diseases being transmitted is considerably greater.

“It’s a big task for building management people to make sure that if you get people in, that they are safe there. The general public is more educated; people expect to have quality air around them when they need to come back,” he said.

“We don’t really want to resort to sitting in the cold”

One of the key aspects about indoor air in particular is the need for striking a balance between that and energy efficiency. If a building is designed using the latest technologies that encourage better insulation, opening a window might be somewhat counter-intuitive.

“Opening windows is a beautiful source of ventilation but the heat goes out. In the wintertime, it’s smart from one angle and it’s ill-advised from another angle.

“So, having something making your air better quality without the necessity to have the window ajar keeps things in a good balance. We really don’t want to resort to sitting in the cold in offices or schools, having the windows open and the heating on,” he said.

Here is where the advantages of having a dedicated sterilisation unit installed become clearer. Without risking a sharp increase in your heating bills due to open windows, business owners can ensure the highest standard of clean air quality for their staff, customers and clients.

It being something that many business owners would not have previously invested in, there is understandably a certain level of uncertainty. It can be challenging to have peace of mind that the product you are choosing is the most effective option, in which case Milosz recommends reviewing the way in which the product was tested.

He said, “If you have a product that makes claims, have a look at how it was tested. Who tested it? Is there any paperwork to back up this claim?”

In recent weeks, the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided guidance on the flaws and benefits of what’s on the market. It’s important to educate yourself and seek expert advice when trying to find the right technology, which is why AerNua offers free and independent advice that can be hugely beneficial.

With so much of this discussion centred around the scientific elements, it’s often worth being reminded of the stark importance of indoor air quality. In a world where so much of our time is spent within the confines of a building, it should never be overlooked.

“Breathing is the most intimate thing we ever do, because the air you inhale goes all the way through you. We do it all our life,” he said.

The benefits of fresh air shouldn’t be underestimated. As good for the mind as it is for the body, much of our overall wellbeing rests on our ability to breathe clean air.

“How many times a day do we breathe, 15 breaths per minute? That’s just shy of 22,000 breaths over 24 hours… so air quality is hugely important for our wellbeing,” he said.

The application of AerNua’s technology for the management of common pathogens, including Covid-19, has been verified by Munster Technological University (MTU), CAPPA (the Centre for Advanced Photonics & Process Analysis) and Compliance Engineering Ireland.

Created by two experienced engineers, AerNua is an Irish company that offers a reliable source of clean air. Having proven the effectiveness of their product through rigorous testing, contact John and Marie Therese today.

For more information about a ventilation strategy assessment service, their air sterilisation technology, or for free consultation on finding the right solution for your business or organisation, visit the AerNua website. To hear the latest developments, follow AerNua on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.