Latest Sanitair News

Sanitair® is COVID Safe!

We’re pleased to announce that all of our Sanitair® sites are now registered as COVID Safe businesses.

The COVID Safe program, formally recognises businesses that are playing their part to keep the community safe from coronavirus.

As part of our commitment to protecting the health of our customers and staff, we have prepared a detailed COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines our protocols for:

  • hygiene and safety
  • physical distancing
  • recording contact details of staff and customers
  • staff wellbeing.

Registering our locations as COVID Safe businesses means we are also obligated to:

  • keep a copy of our COVID-19 Safety Plan at each site
  • ensure workers understand their responsibilities
  • train new workers to act in a socially responsible way
  • keep customer details secure and only use them for contact tracing.

Although the COVID Safe Business program is specific to NSW, Sanitair Australia has implemented the same COVID-19 response protocol in each of our 70+ sites throughout Australia.

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WHO – Emerging evidence virus spreads through the air

 

WHO has issued new advice after it can’t rule out airborne spread of COVID.

WHO acknowledges the possibility that outbreaks in restaurants, choirs and fitness centres around the world were the result of some aerosol transmission.

Guy Marks, an epidemiologist and respiratory physician at the University of New South Wales says, Given the likelihood of transmission at home, we need to think about the air exchange in the rooms where we spend most of our time.  Remember, the average adult takes between 12 to 20 breaths per minute, so it doesn’t take long to real get a kind of “aerosol cloud” going.

“If people in a room and it’s all sealed, the air won’t change, it just sits there so anything you emit from breathing, coughing, whatever, just stays in the air,” Professor Marks says.

Air conditioning can be a good way to mechanically ventilate a space if you can’t open windows or doors.  But there is one condition — it should not be used on the recirculate setting.  “Otherwise there’s the potential that those aerosols will just keep being dispersed through the air-conditioner over and over,” Professor Marks said.

But while air conditioners are good for ventilation, they introduce another problem: direct air flow. If multiple people are sitting under an air-conditioner and one has COVID-19, the direct flow of air from the unit can create a loop of infected aerosols over everyone.


The three families were sitting within the blue cloud of aerosols.(Supplied: MedRxiv)

This diagram shows the mini weather-system created by an air-conditioner at a restaurant in China where a COVID-19 outbreak was recorded.The three families were sitting within the blue cloud of aerosols.(Supplied: MedRxiv).  Research yet to be peer-reviewed, concluded a “recirculation envelope” formed over three families’ tables, which were in the direct line of one air conditioning unit.  Ten members of those families later tested positive to COVID-19, but no-one else in the restaurant (who sat under different air conditioning units) was infected.

“It wasn’t caused by the air conditioner, it was just the fact it was a very directional flow,” Professor Morawska says.

Deciphering the direction and rebounding of air from a unit is hard, even for experts, so the best idea is just don’t sit in the direct path of a unit. “First thing when you enter a restaurant, look at where the air conditioner is and which way will the air go and which tables will be most affected,” Professor Morawska says.  Also keep in mind, fans don’t help with ventilation as while they move air around, they don’t remove it.

“In these events, short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” the statement said.

On June 24th, the air cooling system used in a German slaughterhouse helped spread the coronavirus among hundreds of workers, a hygiene expert said on Wednesday, a day after the mass outbreak triggered renewed lockdowns in the area.

More than 1,500 out of 7,000 employees have tested positive so far at the Tonnies meat processing plant in the western district of Guetersloh in the country’s single biggest COVID-19 cluster to date.  Professor Martin Exner, a hygiene expert at the University of Bonn tasked by Guetersloh district to study the outbreak, told a press conference that the plant’s air filtration system had contributed to the spread of virus-laden aerosol droplets.

The ventilation system is aimed at keeping temperatures at a cool 6-10 degrees Celsius but continually recycles the same untreated air into the room, said Exner.

“This has so far been an overlooked risk factor” in the pandemic, he told reporters, warning that the finding would have “big consequences” for other slaughterhouses as well.

He stressed that the cooling system was just “one factor” to explain the rapid spread of the virus in the slaughterhouse, and that wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance were key to controlling the transmission.

 

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-07-11/the-who-says-airborne-spread-of-covid-19-possible-what-now/12443268
https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-06/aerosol-transmission-of-covid-19/12425852
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20067728v1
https://en.mercopress.com/2020/06/25/air-cooling-system-in-german-abattoir-helped-spread-coronavirus-among-hundreds-of-workers

 

 

 

 

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HVAC Hygiene during COVID-19

HVAC Hygiene During COVID-19

Article AIRAH – Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating.

AIRAH has highlighted the importance of maintaining HVAC and other building services – even if premises are temporarily unoccupied.

Across Australia, offices and other commercial buildings have emptied out as organisations shut down or staff work from home due to the COVID-19 prevention measures. But even when premises are empty, HVAC systems and other building services may continue to run.

AIRAH has called for building owners and facilities managers to be aware of potential issues.

“Modern buildings are not designed to be shut down for extended periods,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH.

“Some building owners may consider doing this to reduce energy costs. But what we are saying is that it won’t be possible without the advice and help of technical experts and professional service providers.”

According to AIRAH, building systems can present serious risks if not correctly maintained.

“Cooling towers and condenser water systems are an obvious example, where stagnation poses significant community health risks,” says Gleeson. “The last thing we want to see is a wave of Legionella outbreaks when everyone goes back to work.

“In terms of HVAC systems, people aren’t the only source of contaminants in buildings. Owners may need to ensure a minimum ‘background’ amount of ventilation is maintained to limit health and amenity risks upon return to work.”

Gleeson notes that as well as preventing health and safety issues, regular maintenance is legally required.

“If you just shut down an office and come back in four to six weeks, you will find that essential safety and maintenance measures are not up to date, your statutory maintenance regime is not up to date and therefore not in compliance – and the building should not be occupied,” he says.

“If we want to get our society and economy up and running again as quickly as possible after COVID-19, it is absolutely essential that we maintain our workplaces now.”

AIRAH – Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating – Article 08.04.2020
https://www.airah.org.au/AIRAH/Navigation/AboutAIRAH/PressReleases/2020/2020_Press_Releases/UNOCCUPIED_BUILDINGS_MUST_STILL_BE_MAINTAINED_SAYS_AIRAH.aspx

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Clean Air is Crucial for Student Success

Indoor Air Quality – In a year children will spend an average of 1,300 hours in school buildings, where teachers, administrators and other school personnel will concentrate on helping them learn and grow. That means more than just developing curriculum. It also means making sure their schools provide a safe, healthy environment.

Over the years, issues that affect the health of our schoolchildren such as nutrition and exercise have been receiving a great deal of focus. Unfortunately another matter that has a tremendous impact on a student’s ability to succeed has been largely overlooked — Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). In order to be successful, students must have clean, healthy air to breathe. Not only can poor IAQ cause illnesses that keep them home from school, but recent findings have also shown that it may directly reduce their ability to learn.

Clean air is crucial for student success

Children are particularly vulnerable to harmful and irritating air contaminants such as microbiological pollutants, allergens, chemicals and ultrafine particles. Their lung development is directly affected by air pollution. Exposure to polluted air during these developing years has been associated to decreased respiratory function later in life. Increasing reports of asthma among school age children have been directly linked to elevated air pollution exposure.

Studies have associated poor Indoor Air Quality with a decrease in students’ ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation and memory.

Taking action to affect change

Parents can take action to make sure their children are breathing clean, healthy air in every classroom. These are some questions parents should be asking the administration at their children’s schools:

Is the school inspecting and maintaining their HVAC systems regularly?

Are there routine inspections for moisture and mould? Have they established prevention and remediation plans?

Is the maintenance staff cleaning and removing dust with a damp cloth and vacuuming daily?

Is school choosing safe cleaning products, building materials and furniture that do not release harmful chemicals?

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Private Hospital with Lots of Extras!

Do you think hospital air conditioning should be hygienic?

Recently one of our directors was admitted to one of the best private hospitals in the country with a respiratory / lung infection. To his complete disgust, whilst being transferred from the emergency department to the ward, he could not believe his eyes looking up at the ceiling and noticing the severely contaminated air conditioning system.

This is not acceptable in any hospital, let alone a private one.

Just another prime example, where the owners and managers of facilities are under the impression that their air conditioning HVAC Hygiene is being addressed under their current maintenance contract. It is time for owners and managers to take responsibility for the hygiene of their air conditioning systems.  Especially in a facility such as a hospital, where patients are often admitted with weakened immune systems and vulnerable to airborne contaminants.

How is it possible for hospital staff/management not to acknowledge the high levels of contamination clearly visible in this video, without addressing the issue immediately.

This clear level of contamination exposes staff, patients and hospital visitors to possible harmful airborne contaminants which can include Dirt, Dust, Human DNA, Bacteria and Toxic Mould.

The owners and managers of all facilities have a duty of care under the Australian indoor air quality standard to provide clean uncontaminated air which is clearly being ignored all over the country, including in our best hospitals.

Air Conditioning Systems that are not professionally cleaned and sanitised overtime will collect a build up of contamination filtered from the indoor air.  Contaminants include biofilms, toxic mould, dirt, dust, Human DNA, bacteria and more. These contaminants are then blown back into the indoor air and become airborne and ready to enter unsuspecting (patients, staff or visitors) hosts. Sanitair have been completing HVAC Hygiene remediation since 2005 and some of our worst air conditioners are located in health facilities.

Maintenance of a health care facility HVAC System differs from almost all other types of buildings. The biological flora that are endemic to all health premises pose a risk to both patients, staff and visitors. The design and maintenance of the building play key roles in controlling both the proliferation and dissemination of harmful Maintenance standards for critical areas in health facilities. The best-designed health care facility will cease to function to the design intent if the building is not maintained to the original specifications.

Supply air and exhaust systems have the capacity to introduce harmful organisms into the building, as well as distribute and circulate introduced and hospital-acquired organisms.

Walls, floors and ceilings must be maintained in good order with damage regularly repaired to enable proper cleaning. All types of surfaces need to be maintained in good order to ensure organisms have less places to proliferate. Biofilms and water damage pose particular risks to the sickest patients with compromised immune systems.

Time for these facilities to have a health check!

 

REF: Grove DI, Lawson PJ et al 2002, ‘An outbreak of Legionella longbeachae infection in an intensive care unit?’ Journal of Hospital Infection 52:250–258.
Boyce JM 2007, ‘Environmental contamination makes an important contribution to hospital infection’, Journal of Hospital Infection 65(S2):50–54.
Lindsay D, von Holy A 2006, ‘Bacterial biofilms within the clinical setting: what healthcare professionals should know’, Journal of Hospital Infection 64:313–325.

Sanitair Australia ©

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