The positive approach to clean air

The sweaty atmosphere of spaces such as exercise rooms can be effectively dealt with by air cleaners.
Clean air is good for people, furnishings, fittings and expensive equipment. MARTYN STANTON discusses the role of air cleaners in delivering good indoor air quality.People are healthier, happier and work better when the air is clean. The pollutants we wish to avoid in indoor air include organic compounds, dust, smoke, allergens and viruses. In addition, airborne dust and dirt can damage expensive equipment on which businesses depend. Fresh air has traditionally been provided by opening windows. Most new office, public and commercial buildings have HVAC systems of various degrees of complexity and effectiveness. Many have no windows and rely on ducted systems to remove pollutants and provide clean air. However, such systems remove only a fraction of the air from the room, to be replaced by fresh air or recycled air. Many workplaces and public buildings have no assisted air circulation. All the pollutants described can all be removed by electrostatic air cleaners, of which there are many types and sizes for commercial premises. Unlike ventilation systems they do not merely recirculate stale air, dust and smoke but actively remove pollutants from the environment and deliver clean air over a wide area. This results in an atmosphere which is smoke-free, more pleasant to work in and provides relief to those prone to asthma and hay fever. If air conditioning is used without air cleaners, particles can clog air-conditioning filters, rendering them ineffective. Cleaner air indoors than outdoors Modern building standards ensure very little air and heat is lost outdoors during winter months. Airborne pollutants thus build up where there is insufficient filtration or ventilation. Electrostatic air cleaners can make indoor air much cleaner and healthier than that outdoors — particularly welcome for premises near busy roads. By removing dust and dirt, furnishings, fittings and equipment stay clean for longer and have a longer life. Staff smoking rooms fitted with air cleaners have fewer airborne particles, so are healthier and more comfortable places for smokers. Electrostatic air cleaners designed for buildings work in two ways. First, larger particles are trapped by a mesh filter. Tiny particles remaining receive an electrostatic charge and are attracted onto aluminium plates. The cleaned air is recirculated by high-efficiency fans. The design ensures effective air distribution, achieving excellent cleaning efficiency whilst minimising draughts. Duct-installed or surface-mounted Electrostatic air cleaner units are available for installation in the return air duct of a forced air heating, cooling or ventilation system. Other types are self-contained for surface-mounting on walls or ceilings, or flush-mounting in the ceiling. They draw air in, remove its pollutants and expel clean air. Electrostatic air cleaners are particularly useful in premises where ventilation systems cannot be used or where their effectiveness is limited. The most widespread users of electrostatic air cleaners in commercial premises today are pubs, clubs, hotels, restaurants and other leisure premises. While they remove cooking smells and smoke, body odours, allergens and viruses, the motivating factor in many venues has been to eliminate tobacco smoke, in response to its reported health hazard. Hay fever and asthma relief By removing allergens, electrostatic air filters provide relief for asthma and hay fever sufferers. Sufferers have reported to the manufacturer [Honeywell] relief from symptoms while in their local ‘smoking-allowed’ pub, fitted with the company’s air cleaners.
Self-contained electrostatic air cleaners are available in a variety of formats mounting on walls or ceilings or recessing into ceilings. They can also be installed in a return-air duct.
Typical among adopters of air-cleaning technology is the Faraday Ex-Servicemen’s Club in Slough, where half the members are cigarette smokers. The club’s decision to install seven air cleaners has delighted members, says club Chairman, Bill Rafferty. He explains: ‘We have the health and comfort of our 1500 members at heart, and our clean air policy is attractive to new members. People can smoke but no-one suffers its smell, discomfort or reported health hazards. Clean air is important to smokers, as well as non-smokers like me.’ Media reports and forthcoming no-smoking legislation have highlighted concerns about smoke pollution in the workplace. For the time being, at least, most workplaces can satisfy smokers and non-smokers by providing smoking rooms, fitted with air cleaners that reduce smokers’ exposure to their own smoke and ensure the remainder of the building is smoke-free. Technology in the form of electrostatic air cleaners has also come to the rescue of workers such as hotel bar staff who have to work among heavy smokers. Solution to workplace smoke pollution The Novotel London West (Novotel’s flagship UK hotel) solved the problem of workplace smoke pollution with four air cleaners. This initiative has also reduced energy wastage, as there is no longer any need to open doors for fresh air when the bar is filled with heavy smokers. The air cleaners are very effective but unobtrusive, having being installed within the ceiling void, with only their grilles visible.
Making an important contribution to maintaining a pleasant atmosphere in the bar of the Novotel London West Hotel are four Honeywell air cleaners.
Benoit Charrière, Novotel health and safety manager, said: ‘Staff exposure to smoke was always an issue during risk assessments for ISO 14001 compliance. The hotel’s ventilation and air conditioning does not remove smoke, but the Honeywell air cleaners have solved the problem. The air could become very polluted when we had 200 to 300 people in the bar before a big function. ‘In the hotel business we recognise that smoke discolours ceiling tiles. Air cleaners prevent that, so are a very good idea in a new building.’ Bar staff are delighted with the cleaners. ‘Smoke pollution has always been a problem in our line of work and we’re delighted that the hotel is doing so much to minimise this sort of pollution,’ said Carole Sibuet, bar manager. ‘Everyone agrees the cleaners are good. They have three fan speeds but work satisfactorily on the minimum setting most of the time. If there is a lot of smoke, the staff can increase the speed using infra red remote controllers, to ensure all the smoke is removed.’ The installer, Inn-house Technology, returns every six weeks to clean and service the units. Novotel is trialling portable air cleaners which can be wheeled into rooms as required to remove cigarette smoke and smells. Martyn Stanton is with Honeywell Control Systems Ltd, Newhouse Industrial Estate, Motherwell ML15SB. The web site of Inn House Technologies is given below.
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