UV-C for HVAC units of airports to step up the game in curbing coronavirus transmission

After being cooped up at home due to stringent Covid-induced restrictions, we are yearning to travel to our favourite destinations, or just about anywhere. But here’s a question that instantly comes to our mind — are airports really as safe? As per a  Harvard University Study, although airports have stepped up their efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, there’s no denying that challenges remain, including upgrading and enhancing ventilation systems. The study also pointed out that while airplanes are fitted with sophisticated air filtration systems, most airport systems are not.

This problem should be prioritised without any delay, because airports are almost always occupied, and witness frequent footfalls, and mingling of people from diverse countries/ cities. Moreover, the aviation sector cannot be completely shut down, because a country’s economy is heavily reliant on its contribution.

In this scenario, what’s critical is how airports rise to the occasion, and adapt to a changed world.

But what practices should airports adopt to be at the top of their game? Here are some helpful ways to keep a check on the spread of infection:

While social distancing, proper seating, and sanitized washrooms are the need of the hour, setting up good ventilation systems must not be ignored.

1. Ensure social distancing
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises everyone to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, even if they are not sick. That’s because physical distance reduces the risk of infection caused by large droplets transmitted between individuals. Of course, wearing an N95 mask is equally important. Plus, there could also be indoor navigation systems to direct passenger movement, so that adequate distance is maintained.

2. Passenger health screening
To curb the spread of infection, it is important for airports to have adequate screening measures in place. Passengers must be checked for their vaccination certificates, both before departure and on arrival. As an additional step, asking them to get tested before their flight will also help to arrest transmission to other passengers in time. Screening for Covid-19 is likely to become like visa stamping; those who test negative will be cleared for travel, while others will have to go for further tests.

Moreover, ensuring physical distancing, hand and hygiene practices and age-appropriate mask use plays an important role in reducing the risk of Covid-19.

3. Availability of sanitizers, hand wash, and mask dispensers
It is important for airports to provide passengers with sanitizers, hand washes as well as mask dispensers. All passengers must wear a proper and well-fitted mask that covers their nose and mouth. In case they do not follow these protocols, airport authorities must take stringent action against them.

4. Contactless transactions: In the age of digitization, it is now possible to set up contactless transactions at refreshment outlets and shopping centres inside airports for the safety of passengers. Providing the option for touch-free transactions eliminates unnecessary touching of surfaces, which may also be carriers of Covid-19.

5. A good ventilation system
A clean environment with good ventilation systems, backed by the best in technology, is the need of the hour. As per WHO, the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus is increased in crowded and poorly ventilated settings. That’s because the virus passes between people through infected respiratory particles in the form of droplets and aerosols. In fact, research reveals that areas that do not have proper ventilation can have infected aerosols that can linger in the air, and travel farther than 1 metre.

Plus, airport terminals have high ceilings, which could lead to ineffective distribution of air. Changing airflow patterns is critical to prevent the airborne transmission of the virus.

As per the WHO, most heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems pull outside air inside. While HVACs are now omnipresent, they can play a key role in controlling the spread of SarsCov2, if maintained properly. The V in HVAC, or ventilation, is the process of replacing or exchanging air within a space.

This provides better quality of air indoors and involves the removal of moisture, smoke, odours, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Moreover, it ensures temperature control and oxygen replenishment.

In the case of a good HVAC, the heavy footfalls are never bothersome. That’s because these systems regulate the amount of outside air and the total supply of air to airports accordingly. But at the same time, the systems must be able to mitigate the fumes that are emitted from the taxiway and runway.

What makes UV-C tubes a preferred option?

UV-C fixtures installed in air-handling-unit (AHU) plenums/ ducts, air-distribution systems, or HVAC ductwork inactivate microorganisms “on the fly.” The germicidal dose is determined by the UV-C intensity, exposure time, and target pathogen’s susceptibility to UV-C.

Airports should leverage these UV-C tubes inside HVAC systems to ensure that passengers stay safe, and the transmission of the virus is arrested at the right time.

ams OSRAM’s UV-C tubes have a low-pressure Hg discharge lamp, transparent long-life coating, soft glass tube, and do not generate ozone. At the same time, they offer high efficiency.

Equipped with the latest European technology, ams OSRAM  UV-C tube is what airports need in order to contribute to a safer environment!

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