Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog

 

May 2020

Protect Yourself From Pollutants, Coronavirus Particles and Your Lungs

Protect Yourself from the Deadly Link Between Pollutants, Coronavirus Particles and Your Lungs

While most of the world has watched in horror at the pace of the new novel coronavirus, researchers have been working furiously to identify how it spreads and how to stop it.

We are desperately searching for answers to protect ourselves, reduce our risk, slow the spread, limit contact and do everything possible to eradicate the coronavirus itself.

Slowly but surely, what we are now learning is helping to slow the spread in some areas. Sometimes, we learn by what WE do wrong. Other times, we learn by studying what OTHERS have done wrong.

In the case of aerosol coronavirus transmission, we have only recently even discovered this is possible!

Once researchers learned that the earliest cases of COVID-19 could be traced back to the air ducts at the original Guangzhou, China, restaurant, the whole focus of research shifted.

In this post, learn what we now know about the deadly link between pollutants, coronavirus particles and your lungs.

 

Key Ways Air Pollution Worsens Risk of COVID-19

It makes some amount of common sense that anyone who has existing respiratory issues or immune system issues might be more vulnerable to catching any serious illness, including COVID-19.

But what has been most confusing about the new novel coronavirus is figuring out how it spreads.

Numerous research studies now link air pollution to areas where the number of COVID-19 cases are higher.

 

Who is most at risk of getting a severe or fatal case of COVID-19?

1. People who already have compromised heart and/or lung function due to a pre-existing respiratory condition and/or ongoing exposure to polluted air.

2. People who live in areas with high levels of air pollution, which can weaken and inflame even healthy lungs.

3. People who live in areas where air pollution is considerable. Coronavirus particles may be able to "hitch a ride" on pollution particles in order to travel longer distances.

 

What Works to Contain the Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

As some countries begin to see results from stay at home orders and other safety measures, this gives researchers the chance to study what is working and what is not.

We now have the ability to start identifying things that seem to work best.

These are the three best-known safety measures that appear to help limit the risk of getting COVID-19:

  • Social Distancing
  • Use of PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer

Now, researchers are giving us three other safety measures that might just be equally as effective and vital:

  • Breathing Clean Air
  • Lung and Heart Health
  • Air Ventilation

What can you do right now to start incorporating these three new safety measures into your daily routine at home and while working?

 

4 Tips to Clean Up Your Air

There is no doubt that the outdoor air in most areas has become cleaner and clearer due to stay at home orders.

As it turns out, sheltering in place isn't just good for our health. It is also good for our planet and its air supply.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given us ample proof that most of us are living with far more toxicity in our indoor air than anything we might find outdoors.

Plus, our indoor air toxins are more concentrated and we are exposed to them for far longer periods of time each day.

So, where you really need to start cleaning up your air supply is in your home and workplace. These four tips can help you achieve that goal in both places:

 

1. Bring in the houseplants!

As NASA has verified, houseplants are excellent at cleaning the air. This is because houseplants "breathe in" the carbon dioxide that we breathe out.

Houseplants breathe out oxygen, helping to improve air quality and ease the burden on our lungs.

Read our recommendations for the top 10 houseplants for improving your indoor air.

 

2. Keep your air filters squeaky clean.

You may have read advice on how to limit how often you handle or change your air filter right now, due to concerns about catching COVID-19. This, however, is not a great strategy.

A clogged air filter reduces ventilation, which is one of the key methods of diffusing aerosol (lightweight airborne) coronavirus particles before they can infect you.

 

3. Consider installing an ultraviolet air purifier.

If you've been keeping up with COVID-19 news, you've probably seen and heard multiple references to ultraviolet light.

In a move some scientists call "bringing sunlight indoors," researchers are investigating multiple uses for powerful artificial UV light in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

UV air purifiers for homes and workplaces can bring some of that same power into your home or office space, damaging coronavirus particles so that they cannot infect you.

Both portable and central (ducted) units are available.

 

4. Add the power of HEPA filtration.

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) technology is definitely the best method of removing airborne particles that could help coronavirus droplets hitch a ride to travel farther and infect more people.

HEPA filtration has long been a staple in the healthcare industry, especially in hospitals, urgent care clinics and laboratories where the risk of airborne toxins is high.

Most residential and many commercial HVAC systems are not built to handle the intensely dense HEPA air filters.

However, you can add a standalone HEPA filtration unit that won't overload your HVAC blower motor and will still do the hard work of filtering out even microscopic airborne toxins.

 

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service throughout this difficult time. Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we are working remotely but are still open to serve you safely with many contact-less options. We offer both portable and central (ducted) units and are ready to provide you with the heating and cooling systems in Kingston, London, Hamilton, Burlington and surrounding areas.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online for more information on both residential and commercial heating and cooling systems. 

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Kill Coronavirus With These Powerful Natural Cleaning Products

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be very hard to kill.

The new novel coronavirus can stay alive on paper, glass and even stainless steel for as long as five days.

Scientists currently do not know for sure how long coronavirus can stay alive on human skin, but it can certainly last long enough to merit frequent, vigorous hand washing sessions.

Unfortunately, those very same hand washing sessions can lead to dry, cracked, irritated skin – the very kind that can let the coronavirus germs in more easily. And the harsh chemical cleansing agents aren’t doing your skin or your health any favours in the meantime.

Are there any natural cleaning products that can effectively kill coronavirus without exposing you and your family to harsh toxins? Yes!

But there are also two important "how to" cleaning and disinfection tips you need to know in order to make the natural cleaning products you use effective.

How Long Can Coronaviruses Live On Different Surfaces?

According to WebMD, the coronavirus can live for different lengths of time on different types of surfaces.

These are generalized estimates based on evaluating the whole family of coronaviruses that SARS-CoV-2 also belongs to.

  • Paper: anywhere from minutes to up to five days
  • Cardboard: 24 hours
  • Plastic: two to three days
  • Wood: four days
  • Metal: five days
  • Stainless steel: two to three days
  • Glass: as long as five days
  • Ceramics: as long as five days
  • Aluminum: from two to eight hours
  • Copper: four hours
  • Fabric: not known
  • Shoes: not known
  • Food: not known
  • Skin, hair, nails: not known (but likely a matter of hours)

To Kill Coronavirus, You Need to Clean AND Disinfect

The coronavirus is what the CDC calls an “enveloped virus.” What this means is that the RNA that causes COVID-19 is inside a protective fatty (lipid) membrane.

As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains, it takes two steps to kill this type of virus: cleaning and disinfecting.

1. Cleaning

Cleaning will pick up and remove germs. It will also pick up and remove dirt, dust, pollen, pet dander and other debris.

But cleaning doesn’t kill the germs. It just moves them from the surface to the towel or sponge or your hands.

For this point, remember: Cleaning = Removing or Moving The Germs.

2. Disinfecting

Disinfecting is the step that actually kills the germs. The disinfecting process will damage, neutralize, inactivate or destroy germs that could otherwise cause you harm.

For this point,, remember: Disinfecting = Killing The Germs.

NOTE: Disinfecting is not the same as sanitizing or sterilizing. Sanitizing can reduce the quantity of germs on a surface by killing or at least moving some of them. Sterilizing will kill all the germs. But sterilizing is a more complicated process and is typically only used in hospitals and laboratories.

The CDC-Recommended Method to Clean and Disinfect

This is the method the CDC recommends to first clean and then disinfect any surface.

1. Wear disposable gloves.

2. Clean the surface first using soap and water or an appropriate detergent.

3. Apply the disinfectant for the recommended time period (called a “dwell period”).

4. Allow the disinfectant to dry (you can wipe away any excess).

5. Dispose of your gloves (or reserve that pair only for cleaning and disinfecting).


Natural Cleaning Products That Also Disinfect Against Coronavirus

It is true that bleach (in proper concentration) is a robust choice for disinfecting against coronavirus. But it is also toxic to breathe and handle. What natural cleaning products can do the same job without the toxic side effects?

Consumer Reports has compiled a fabulous and detailed review of the best products to destroy (disinfect) coronavirus.

These are only natural products on the CDC's list.

Soap

All soap is more than a match for coronavirus. It doesn’t matter what kind of soap you use.

There are two basic kinds of soap: ionic and non-ionic. The former is more effective against viral germs and the latter is easier on your skin.

But both kinds of soap can effectively damage the outer fatty layer of the coronavirus to destroy the RNA inside.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Undiluted hydrogen peroxide at a three percent concentration applied for a dwell period (contact period) of six to eight minutes can kill coronavirus.

Hydrogen peroxide is non-corrosive and you can use it on metals safel (be careful with fabrics, however, as some may discolor.)

You don’t have to wipe it away afterwards because it essentially breaks down into two safe elements: water and oxygen.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Undiluted isopropyl alcohol (70 percent concentration) applied for a minimum dwell period of 30 seconds can kill coronavirus.

Alcohol is safe to use on every surface, however it can cause discolouration on some specific plastics materials.

Ethyl Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol at a 62-71 percent concentration applied for a minimum dwell period of 30 seconds is also an effective way to kill coronavirus.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing ethyl alcohol with drinking alcohol, which typically has only a 40 percent concentration at best. You can figure out how much ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is in alcohol by looking for the “proof” and multiplying that number by two.

NOTE: You may have also noticed that certain trusted natural cleaning products – most notably white and apple cider vinegar and baking soda, as well as essential oils like tea tree oil – did not make the list of disinfectants capable of killing coronavirus. You can certainly continue to use these products for phase one cleaning, but in order to save time, you may just want to skip straight to the products listed above.

Get in Touch

We are open to serve you safely with contactless options during this difficult time.

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

 

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Stay Home Safely With These Clean Air Solutions Tips

All over the world people are doing their best to shelter in place in order to protect themselves from COVID-19.

While this is one proven method to reduce the risk of contracting the new novel coronavirus, it isn't the only important safety measure to take.

A few weeks ago, we shared details from a breaking news story linking dirty outdoor air to higher COVID-19 mortality rates.

Unfortunately, the EPA recently released data proving that, for most of us, the air inside our homes and workplaces is up to five times more polluted than our outdoor air.

This can cause our home to be one of the most dangerous places to be, especially if you are already in a high risk group due to age or another health issue.

In this post, we share our favourite indoor clean air solutions to help you make sure your home remains a safe place to shelter.

Meet the Most Common Indoor Air Toxins

As the EPA explains, the most common toxins inside North American homes today come from regular daily activities and trusted products that we wouldn’t normally question.

Once you understand where you may be introducing pollution into your indoor air - or at least allowing it to come in - it is a lot easier to know how to fix the problem.

Let's take a look at what is probably polluting your indoor air right now!

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are released from new home furniture and furnishings, commercial cleaning products, paint and solvents, personal care products, fragrances and air "fresheners" and many other modern products.

Combustion by-products.

Combustion happens anytime a fuel source ignites. The most common types of combustion inside the home come from smoking and vaping, burning candles or incense, use of gas or wood-burning appliances and idling car engines.

Radon.

Radon is a naturally-occurring, colourless, odourless gas that is produced when uranium and certain other rocks begin to decay. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the first leading cause in non-smokers here in Canada.

Biological materials.

Pollen, mould, mildew, dust mites, pet dander and pests such as insects and rodents can all bring toxic biological materials into the home. Often this happens "behind the scenes" in the attic, basement, garage and drywall.

Clean Air Tips to Detoxify Your Indoor Air

Each one of these clean air tips will help you remove or block toxins that are polluting your indoor air and lowering your immune system's resistance to the new novel coronavirus and other worrisome health issues.

1. Keep your air filter clean.

Even as you are spending more time at home, it is still all too easy to forget about inspecting and changing (or cleaning and replacing) your hard-working indoor air filter.

Your standard furnace air filter may not be able to filter out all the toxins inside your home, but it will definitely do its best work when it is clean.

Right now, many of our customers are also choosing to add on a standalone HEPA air filtration system (both central and portable models are available) for an extra layer of protection inside the home.

HEPA air filtration systems are capable of filtering out up to 99.97 percent of very small solid airborne particulates (as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair).

HEPA filters are used in laboratories, hospitals and urgent care centers around the world.

2. Make the switch to green cleaning and personal care products.

There is no doubt it can be hard to look at that stash of commercial cleaning products, bath and body products, air fresheners and home care products without seeing dollar signs.

And it is true that certain extra-strong cleaning and disinfection products are recommended for use right now to guard against coronavirus.

But as best as you are able, consider beginning the transition from those chemical-laden products to green products made with natural ingredients.

In most cases, essential oils do the same great job, adding pleasant fragrance to your home without the VOCs.

And in most cases, natural ingredients like lemon juice, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, white and apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol along with plain water will do the same job just as well.

We devoted an entire blog post to DIY home cleaning recipes that can give you the same great squeaky clean home without the side helping of toxicity.

3. Increase air circulation and ventilation in your home.

Depending on your budget and situation, improving air circulation and ventilation can be as simple as turning on a ceiling or floor fan and opening up a window.

A better option that also addresses trapped toxic, stale air is the heat recovery ventilator, or HRV.

HRVs isolate fresh incoming air from stale outgoing air, ensuring a steady cycle of ventilation and air circulation. HRVs also recycle otherwise wasted energy to lower heating and cooling bills while helping to balance indoor air humidity levels.

HRVs can work with any central (ducted) HVAC system.

4. Add on an ultraviolet air purifier.

Ultraviolet air purification has been having its 15 minutes of fame since the pandemic began.

Shortwave UV-C light is the most powerful tool we currently have to neutralize coronavirus particles.

A variety of ultraviolet air purifiers are available for all size spaces to purify your HVAC coils as well as your indoor air. Both central (ducted) and portable models exist.

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service here in Ontario province. While our staff is working remotely at the moment as a safety precaution, we are always here to serve you.

Right now, in addition to our suite of customized indoor air solutions for homes and workplaces, we are offering curb-side service, pick-up, delivery and online orders with contactless payment methods for convenience and safety. 

Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online.

 

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COVID-19 Air Quality Safety: What We Can Learn From Health Care Workers

doctor with face mask

We knew nearly from the start that the coronavirus can be spread through close contact.

But recently, a number of research studies presented compelling evidence that the coronavirus spreads through HVAC systems as well. (You can read more about this research in last week's blog post here.)

This is pretty scary stuff!

But as they say, more knowledge also means more power to protect ourselves. When we know where the threat is more likely to come from, we can put protections in place against that threat.

To learn how to protect against the airborne transmission of virus germs, we must look to the front lines - to the health care industry. What are health care systems and workers doing to limit risk and stay as safe as possible?

In this post, we outline exactly what is being done and how you can implement the same strategies at home or workplace.

4 Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Safety

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has released its recommendations for maintaining and upgrading indoor air quality and safety for frontline health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.

While not all recommendations are applicable to the general public, these four are vitally important and can be easily implemented without delay.

1. Maintain a relative humidity level of 40 to 60 percent

Nearly from the beginning, research has verified that warmer temperatures combined with higher relative humidity can be an effective means of limiting virus transmission.

The cold season is typically a time when humidity levels plunge to 10 percent or lower. Combined with cooler temperatures, this makes right now the most dangerous time for virus transmission.

There are a number of ways to boost indoor humidity levels. Adding houseplants, leaving the door open after showers and baths, steaming water on the stove, and even placing bowls of water around the house can all add some ambient humidity back into the air.

However, the easiest and best way to regulate and maintain the desired humidity range is to install a whole-home humidifier. These units work with your existing ductwork to keep relative humidity levels consistent inside your space.

If your space lacks central ductwork, you may want to consider purchasing one or more portable humidifiers to add back humidity in high traffic areas.

2. Use HEPA air filtration systems

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were invented in World War II. They are still heavily in use today. The HEPA filter is particularly dense and can trap incredibly tiny particles and keep them from travelling any further into your space.

HEPA filters are too dense for most residential HVAC systems - there is a risk of home fire from over-taxing the blower motor.

But aftermarket HEPA filtration systems can work directly on the air as it leaves the blower and passes into the air ducts, filtering out toxins before they can enter the duct system.

If your space lacks central ductwork, portable HEPA filtration units are also available.

3. Install ultraviolet air purification systems

ASHRAE and other organizations have been recommending the use of ultraviolet light as a purifying agent since the start of the pandemic.

Ultraviolet light (band C) is the most powerful natural disinfectant and decontaminant we have on Earth.

Modern UV air purifiers use focused short-wave bands of UV-C light to neutralize gaseous and liquid particles so they cannot cause harm.

UV air purification systems can work in a number of different ways depending on where they are placed. Some systems irradiate the HVAC coils, while others may be placed at the start of or even inside the air duct system to purify the air there.

If your space lacks central ductwork, portable UV purification units are also available.

4. Improve indoor air ventilation (eliminate or limit air recirculation)

Recirculated air has become a major problem in new construction today. This is largely thanks to new airtight construction processes that seal up every tiny crack and crevice where outside air might come in and indoor air leak out.

This is great for energy bills, but not nearly so good for ventilation. Heat recovery ventilators have now become the norm for new construction because they act like a set of mechanical “lungs,” constantly “breathing in” fresh air and “breathing out” stale air.

Heat recovery ventilators also help balance indoor air humidity levels and recycle otherwise lost and wasted heat energy. But most importantly, they eliminate the threat of virus transmission through recirculating stale indoor air.

Is It Time for an Indoor Air Duct Cleaning?

In most parts of Canada, homes that have indoor air duct systems have never once been cleaned out and sanitized.

Over the last five years, we have seen increasing interest in this service as people get more worried about the health consequences of toxic indoor air.

Initially, many of our customers express concerns that the duct cleaning process will be messy and time-consuming. But today's indoor air duct cleanings can generally be done in less than a day and are completely safe.

We use an enormous industrial-strength negative pressure vacuum to pull out all the trapped debris and then go back in with a powerful sanitizing and deodorizing agent to neutralize any remaining residual threats.

Many of our customers tell us their indoor air is so clean afterward, they can literally smell the difference.

An indoor air duct cleaning is an essential step in eliminating recirculated toxins and ensuring a steady supply of fresh, safe air inside your space.

Get in Touch

We have been deemed an “essential service” during the shelter-in-place order here in Ontario. We are here to serve you in three ways: through curbside pickup, online orders, or shipping.

Our technicians are also available for service calls on a case-by-case basis.

Give us a call at 905-549-2470 or visit us online to let us know how we can help.

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Indoor Air Quality Is an Essential Service: Clean Air Fights COVID19

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As more research data becomes available about the new novel coronavirus, aka CoV-SARS-2, we learn more about the link between air quality and risk of COVID-19 infection.

In fact, just this week, not one but two new research studies were fast-tracked into publication because of their relevance to addressing the current pandemic.

In each study, researchers stated that social distancing and handwashing alone are far from sufficient to protect against COVID-19 infection. Their reasoning is simple, yet until now it was overlooked.

The new novel coronavirus can be transmitted through the air.

Yes, this statement flies in the face of current World Health Organization (WHO) guidance. However, researchers and air quality experts on three continents (China, Australia, North America) agree that COVID-19 can be spread via airborne transmission.

Can it or can't it? Do you want to wait and see who is right? Or do you want to take action to protect yourself?

How COVID-19 Goes Airborne

The first article was written by Chinese researchers who studied the original COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Guangzhou in China. This article was published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The researchers concluded that it was the restaurant's air conditioning ventilation system that spread germs from one asymptomatic diner to nine other diners who were seated more than one metre away.

The second article was written by Australian researchers who studied the 2003 SARS outbreak and several other viral outbreaks in our recent history. This second article was published through ScienceDirect in Environmental International Journal.

These researchers also concluded that COVID-19, like the other coronaviruses before it, could be spread through the air.

It is true that the initial coronavirus droplets are heavy as they are breathed or sneezed out. But soon the droplets start to evaporate. This makes them lighter. Lighter droplets can linger in the air and travel greater distances.

For this reason, the researchers concluded that simply practising social distancing and handwashing is far from sufficient to protect against COVID-19 infection.

3 Keys to Stopping Airborne COVID-19

A few weeks ago, we didn't even know if wearing face masks served any purpose. We know now that face masks have at least some protective benefit, although they do a better job of protecting others from us than protecting us from others.

So if social distancing, handwashing, and face masks alone are not enough protection, what else can be done to limit risk of exposure?

Thanks to the Canadian, Chinese, and Australian research teams, we now have more information than we did about how COVID-19 spreads. And the more information we have, the more protection we can put into place.

1. COVID-19 uses a liquid medium to spread

With airborne toxins, the first key is to identify what medium they use to spread. In other words, are they solids (particles), gases, or liquids?

In the case of the new novel coronavirus (CoV-SARS-2), the virus germs spread via liquid. Knowing this coronavirus uses a liquid transmission method points us toward ultraviolet light as the best purification method.

Viruses are strange organisms. They are made of organic material, but they aren't alive. Once the thin outer membrane that surrounds the viral code gets damaged, the virus can't replicate and infect you.

Ultraviolet light band C can degrade the outer membrane of coronavirus particles and neutralize its impact.

Today's ultraviolet light purification systems use a synthetic form of shortwave UV-C light that can damage and neutralize these airborne particles so they can't harm you.

Both central (ducted) and portable (ductless) UV air purification units are available.

2. COVID-19 uses forced air systems to travel

When working with airborne toxins, the second key is to identify what means they use to travel. Previously, we thought the liquid particles were so heavy they could travel only short distances before settling on surfaces, be those doorknobs or shirtsleeves.

But now we know the germs can become lighter over time and rise up, catch airwaves, and ride those waves to spread farther.

We also now know that forced-air HVAC and ventilation systems help the lightweight liquid airborne germs travel to greater distances and infect more and more people.

This information points us to duct cleaning and improved indoor air ventilation as key methods to reduce risk.

Heat recovery ventilation systems separate incoming fresh air and outgoing toxic air to ensure any airborne coronavirus particles get exhausted to the outside rather than continuing to circulate inside your space.

Indoor air duct cleaning services can go one step further to clean and sanitize the entire network of ducts, clearing out additional trapped toxins that can compromise lung and immune system function and lower resistance to COVID-19.

3. COVID-19 is more deadly in the presence of dirty air

The third key when working to stop airborne toxins is to identify existing conditions that can make their impact worse.

A couple of weeks ago, we shared breaking news from another research study showing that dirty air makes COVID-19 deadlier.

When the air we are breathing is already contaminated with toxic gases, solids, and liquids, our lungs have less ability to fight off serious secondary symptoms of COVID-19 like pneumonia.

This information points us toward HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration, which is the best method on the planet to filter out toxic particles before they can enter our lungs and cause harm.

Both central (ducted) and portable (ductless) HEPA filtration units are available.

Get in Touch

Indoor air quality has been deemed an essential service during this time of sheltering in place.

We are working closely with our sister company, Shipton's Heating and Cooling, to provide you with the very latest in HVAC and indoor air quality technology and service.

If we can help you in any way, just give us a call at 905-549-2470 or visit us online.

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