Indirect contact with surfaces contaminated with infectious droplets containing bacteria is the most common transmission route for infectious diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.
So, for example, every time someone with a cold or flu, for example, coughs or sneezes some of the bacteria are released into the air. While a ducted air system in a large building such as an office or hospital may be constantly refreshing the breathable air the bacteria may end up on the internal surfaces of the ductwork.
Research has found that the embedded bacteria can remain there for considerable periods of time and that the dust and debris that inevitably collects inside the ductwork of an extraction system provides the ideal nutrition for microbes and bacteria to survive on.
Building facilities managers are well aware of the various sets of regulations that require regular air duct cleaning of such systems to ensure a comfortable and breathable atmosphere for the building's users. They also know that a regular cleaning routine can help improve their performance to keep energy costs under control.
There are additional services offered by professional cleaning services that can help to protect the system and further reduce the risks from bacteria and the spread of infection.
The first of these is to ensure that there are adequate access point for cleaning to be as thorough as possible ensuring no corner is missed. It may be worth getting a company that observes the HVCA TR19 industry standards for duct cleaning to carry out a thorough inspection of the system and install additional access points if needed.
A second option is to ensure the cleaning company uses the appropriate cleaning devices such as air jets and brushes specifically designed for the purpose. As a means of extra insurance the cleaning can be reinforced by the application of a polymeric emulsion sanitiser (PDS) which can be atomised into the ventilation system.
The sanitising polymer forms an internal lining on the air duct to protect it from corrosion but it also reinforces the effects of the initial ductwork cleaning by preventing microbes from establishing themselves in the longer term.
Tests have shown that the application of a PDS, especially one that continues to release bacteriocides over time can kill up to 90% of the bacteria and microbe content of E. coli and a variety of other common sources of infection.
It is worth considering the use of sanitised coating for all large buildings where many people work because a reduction in microbes will result in fewer days lost through sickness, but it is particularly important in buildings where there are people who are especially vulnerable either through illness, such as hospitals, or age and reduced immunity, such as residential homes for the elderly.
Copyright ?? 2012 Alison Withers