21 April 2004

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HOW PURE IS THE AIR THAT WE BREATHE?

by Gino Cutajar

The current smokers and the non-smokers issue may have led to certain misinterpretations that might have been implied by the recent articles that appeared in local media with respect to the merits and performance of Air Purifiers performance and their effectiveness in dealing with effects of ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) and IAQ.

My company, Cutrico Services has been in the air purifying business for the past 8 years and we have entered into agreement with Euromate B.V. of Holland ( www.euromate.com ) not by coincidence but after we have conducted a survey on what is available on the market. Euromate are the leading air purifier manufactures in Europe. We have entered into this sector of business because we feel that IAQ (indoor air quality) is becoming even more important, taking into consideration the high level of pollution that is increasing on daily basis due to industrial activities and other developments.

In Malta we have one of the highest number of vehicles in Europe in comparison to our land mass thus a high exhaust emission. Other ambient pollutants contributors are pollen, power stations & hospital incinerators emissions, the on going construction all over the Islands, uncontrolled & controlled rubbish dumps (Maghtab etc.), the dry-docks, the landing & taking off of aircrafts and I can keep on adding to this list.

It is imperative that the Indoor Air Quality has to be addressed for the well being of everyone.

Air purifiers are used in all kinds of places where the IAQ needs to be improved. They are used when safety is critical in specialized environments, such as operating theatres. They are also used in various commercial applications, not just to take away the Tobacco smoke nuisance but to improve the IAQ by removing bad odours and viruses form the air. They are installed in all sorts of places, such as hair dressers, waiting rooms, pet shops, open plan offices, laboratories, psychiatric day-rooms, clinics, gymnasiums   etc.

 

Air purifiers improve the indoor air quality and remove bad odours.

There are various types of air-purifying equipment and unfortunately due to lack of information, people tend to classify all air-purifying equipment under one category. The term, air purifiers, refer to all equipment which remove, contaminants from circulated air flow. A basic air purifier is made up of a filter, a housing and a fan-motor. However the performance of the air purifiers depends from the type of filters it has, these, have to be combined with the right airflow according to the pressure drop created by the filters themselves.

An objective measuring method for commercial stand alone air purifiers, CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) was developed by air cleaning industry in the US. CADR is the net effectiveness of the air cleaner in a (defined) space resulting from filter efficiency, air capacity and the throw/mixture of the air. CADR is tested on tobacco smoke, dust or pollen.

The UK Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has developed a testing methodology with an extensive testing program to enable the testing of the air purifiers with Particle Removal Rate (PRR). BSRIA have tested air purifiers performance against tobacco smoke particles taking into account natural decay phenomena. Particle Removal Rate for new products are quoted as PRR 0     while PRR 500    is the Particulate Removal Rate when the air purifiers have been loaded with the smoke of 500 standard test cigarettes. The difference between the two test results figures is an indication of the life of the filters. The lower the difference is, the better is the efficiency of the air purifier.

The results of various air purifiers manufacturers who dared to submit their equipment for the BSRIA test can be found on web site www.air-cleaner.org.uk

With regards to the smoking ban legislation in bars and restaurants, with today's technology it is possible to improve the IAQ to acceptable levels. The premises must have an effective ventilation system as per CISBE (Charted Institute of Building Services Engineers) and a professional commercial electrostatic air purifier. The minimum filtered fresh air requirement is 8 litres per second per person to prevent the build-up of CO 2 , in   the premises. To avoid the air becoming unhealthy and to remove ETS a professional commercial electrostatic air purifier incorporated an activated carbon filter has to be installed.

In February 2004, INT ( Instituto Nazzionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori) of Milan, Italy together with UNIDE (National Union of Air Purifiers)   conducted performance tests of electrostatic air purifiers of ETS in smokers and non-smokers zones as per ambient limits guide lines of OMS (Organizzazione Mondiale della Sanita) ( Air Quality Guidelines for Europe second edition WHO Regional Publications, European Series, No 91 2000) . On 2 March 2004 they gave a press conference to present their tests results. During these tests the performance of the electrostatic air purifier was so spectacular that within a few minutes in operation, the air purifier reduced the particulates to 2.5 PM in particular of the ETS, to well below the outdoor air levels.

Moreover other tests were conducted, just by fresh air ventilation at 800 m 3 /h, without switching on the air purifier. It was noted that the concentration of particulate contaminants initially reduced below the outdoor air levels but by time, the effect was reducing to a point that the particulate level increased to almost double that of the outside air. Other tests were conducted by increasing the air changes per hour but the effect was even worst as the ventilation draft, created certain calm zones in the premises, where the smoke remained undisturbed. It is definite that a good electrostatic air purifier will save energy and reduce the risk of ETS.

As mentioned above the efficiency of air purifying equipment is critical for good IAQ. Euromate have created the best air purifier in the world. The new Euromate air purifier VisionAir series introduced in 2001 is the result of a continuous research and development exercise.

Euromate created a revolutionary concept, they have created 2 concepts of filtration systems with intelligent software in the same housing and they have added various plug and play options.

The Euromate VisionAir ElectroMax models have improved 3 way filtration system consisting of

•  a cleanable pre-filter to trap the coarser dust and other pollutants

•  a cleanable electrostatic main filter (ionization & collector section) that catches the microscopic particles

•  a consumable   Activated Carbon filter that absorbs the gases.

The Euromate VisionAir MediaMax models, while they still use the 3 way filtration system, have replaced the electrostatic filter with a MediaMax filter. The consumable MediaMax filter is made of reinforced environmentally acceptable synthetic materiel.

The Installation of the Euromate ElectroMax or MediaMax models depends on the application. Moreover as mentioned above these models have plug and play features and options .

•  FreeBreeze is incorporated standard feature, a pleasant natural fragrance.                                Intensity can be manual controlled.

•  SterilAir-        UV lighting to destroy micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses

                           and mildew.

•  OdourFree-    High Grade Activated Carbon Filter

•  AirMonitor-     This option   controls   the   air purifier   automatically, it measures

                            the air pollution continuously and adjusts the operation of the

                            air purifier to   ensure an optimum condition of the air.

Apart from stand alone units, Euromate also manufactures ducted type units, which can be used in a centralised air purification system and also in the fresh air intake system to purify the air, prior entering into the building.

We have numerous installations over the island and apart from restaurants, bars, casino & smoking rooms for ETS removal, we have installed Euromate Air Purifiers to improve the IAQ in offices, in various branches of one of the leading banks in Malta, hair dressers and laboratories.

To ensure a continuous good level of IAQ the air purifiers must be kept switched on and well maintained by having them serviced regularly.   Electrical consumption is very low and is negligible.   The pre filter and the electrostatic filters are washable while the activated carbon filter is a consumable and have to be changed periodically depending on the application.

Electrostatic Air Purifiers compliment air-conditioning and ventilation systems and are the only commercially available equipment capable of dealing with most of the problems associated with ETS.

THE MERIT OF AIR PURIFIERS CANNOT BE UNDERESTIMATED.

 

For further information contact Cutrico Services Ltd. on telephone numbers 21498658   or 21498693 or e-mail info@cutrico.com



Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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