Do Air Purifiers Help You Sleep Better?

We often underestimate just how vital a good night’s sleep is for our bodies to function optimally. In fact, sleep affects everything from heart health to concentration and productivity.

Did you know that air purifiers can significantly improve your sleep? From reducing airborne allergens to producing soothing white noise, air purifiers have a variety of functions that promote deep, restorative sleep and better health in general.

Find out how air purifiers help you sleep in this article from the experts at Sanuvox.

Types of airborne pollutants that affect health and sleep

There are a great many types of airborne pollutants found in our homes that affect our health and sleep. Common allergens such as dust mites and pet dander accumulate very easily in the house. These irritants can be mitigated with regular, thorough cleaning, but never truly eradicated. Sanuvox air purifiers, on the other hand, have been shown to trap 99.97% of these types of particles, making them an extraordinarily effective solution for those who suffer from allergies.

Particles from the local environment can also make their way into the house. Smog, seasonal pollen and harmful chemicals such as dioxide and carbon monoxide from vehicle traffic infiltrate through cracks, vents and windows. Sanuvox air purifiers is very effective at cleaning these types of contaminants.

If left to circulate unimpeded, these allergens and chemical contaminants can cause irritation and inflammation that disrupts our sleep and can lead to other health problems.

Last but certainly not least, Sanuvox S100 air purifiers is able to reduce the circulation of airborne viruses and diseases. In a world that has been shaken by COVID-19, air purifiers are an excellent way to reduce the propagation of the virus and help create safer spaces.

Types of air purifiers that improve sleep

There are a variety of residential air purifiers that can help improve your sleep. Different types of air purifiers specialize in trapping different kinds of contaminants that disrupt sleep.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters

Most air purifiers have HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air filters) that are designed essentially to trap dust. HEPA filters are multiple layers of mesh made out of fine fibreglass threads. Air purifiers with HEPA filters are able to capture 99.97% of all particles over 0.3 microns in size. Because viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 are smaller than that, air purifiers bought for the purpose of reducing virus circulation should have other purifying methods, such as UV light.

UV light air purifiers

SANUVOX UV light can be used to attack micro-organisms, making it an ideal purification method for viruses. UV light can also degrade chemicals and odours, making it quite a versatile air purification system.

Activated carbon air purifiers

Activated carbon is a purification method that is often used in conjunction with other methods such as HEPA filters. Air purifiers with activated carbon are particularly good at trapping harmful chemicals from vehicle traffic and household cleaning agents and neutralizing unpleasant odours.

Air purifiers for conditions that affect sleep

Allergies and asthma

People who suffer from allergies and asthma are particularly affected by airborne particles. Bio-allergens such as dust mites, pet dander and pollen can cause congestion, sneezing, sinus headaches and difficulty breathing, symptoms that make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Air purifiers have been known to alleviate symptoms of asthma and allergies, as they reduce the particles responsible for these reactions.

Sleep apnea

A study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society has found that air pollution significantly increases the risk of sleep apnea. The researchers found that just a 5 microgram increase in particulates leads to a 60% greater risk of sleep apnea, even when controlled for other factors. The study suggests that inhaling pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates results in upper airway irritation and swelling, causing restricted breathing that can lead to sleep apnea.

How air purifiers help you get a good night’s sleep

Airborne particles can cause irritation that disrupts your sleep, particularly if you suffer from allergies and/or asthma. As mentioned above, they can also lead to a higher risk of sleep apnea, a condition that results in restless, interrupted, poor-quality sleep.

Poor sleep can exacerbate underlying health conditions, weight issues, gastrointestinal disorders and mental health problems. In the short term, it causes fatigue, drowsiness, irritability and reduced productivity.

Sanuvox air purifiers remove particulates from the air, reducing irritation and inflammation and improving sleep.

You can also try these tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a regular bedtime
  • Try not to nap during the day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Try to avoid caffeine and eating near bedtime
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
  • Keep your bedroom clean and use your air purified!

Sleep better with a Sanuvox air purifier

Sleeping well is a vital part of staying healthy and being able to function properly. Air purifiers have been proven to improve sleep, along with a host of other health benefits. It’s clear that when it comes to health, an air purifier is an indispensable tool to have in the house!

Sanuvox is a global leader in UV air purifiers, offering a variety of cost-effective purification systems for residential, commercial, institutional and medical use. If you would like more information about our products or have decided that an air purifier is right for you, contact us!

Using Advanced Air Purification Technology in a Healthcare Facility

Summary of the effects of using advanced air purification technology (AAPT/UVGI) on post-surgery outcomes in a healthcare facility

The impact of comprehensive air purification on patient duration of stay, discharge outcomes, and health care economics: A retrospective cohort study1.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Environmental metrics associated with ambient air and surface purity. Study results by Stawicki et al.2 for St. Luke’s University Health Network (Bethlehem, PA). Three “zones” of the same healthcare facility were delimited and evaluated; Zone C is the control floor, which is equipped with hospital standard ventilation and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration. Zone B is also equipped with standard hospital ventilation and HEPA filtration, but also receives return air from Zone A upon recirculation. Zone A is equipped with ventilation, HEPA filtration and an advanced air purification technology (AAPT), which consists of UV germicidal systems (UVGI) from LifeAire™. This figure shows the results of environmental (air and surface) sampling in different zones (A-B-C) of the hospital. Staffing and standard operating procedures (SOP) were similar for all 3 zones.

 

Figure 2

Figure 2. Discharge destination of hospital patients post-surgery. Non-bariatric surgical inpatients admitted to the St. Luke’s University Health Network (Bethlehem, PA), with a case mix index (CMI) included in their medical record, were evaluated according to the zones they were admitted to (N = 1002 patients). Zones are as described previously; Zone A is fitted with AAPT/UVGI systems, along with HEPA filtration, Zone B is fitted with HEPA and return air from Zone A, and Zone C is fitted only with HEPA filtration. Patient populations in different zones were well balanced, with no noticeable differences in distribution.

 

Figure 3

Figure 3. Patient metrics and outcomes by study zone. Inpatients from zones A, B and C, (St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, PA) were compared for their hospital length-of-stay (HLOS) and hospital charges (HC). Data was provided by the hospital and analyzed by an independent third-party epidemiologist. Data is presented as a normalized ratio of control zone (Zone C) .

 


 

1 Stawicki SP, Wolfe S, Brisendine C, Eid S, Zangari M, Ford F, Snyder B, Moyer W, Levicoff L, Burfeind WR. The impact of comprehensive air purification on patient duration of stay, discharge outcomes, and health care economics: A retrospective cohort study. Surgery. 2020 Nov;168(5):968-974. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2020.07.021. Epub 2020 Sep 2. PMID: 32888714.

2 Stanislaw P. Stawicki, Chad Brisendine, Lee Levicoff, Frank Ford, Beverly Snyder, Sherrine Eid and Kathryn C. Worrilow (March 20th 2019). Comprehensive and Live Air Purification as a Key Environmental, Clinical, and Patient Safety Factor: A Prospective Evaluation, Vignettes in Patient Safety – Volume 4, Stanislaw P. Stawicki and Michael S. Firstenberg, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.84530. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/vignettes-in-patient-safety-volume-4/comprehensive-and-live-air-purification-as-a-key-environmental-clinical-and-patient-safety-factor-a-

 


How to Test Air Quality in an Office Space

Indoor air quality is becoming more and more of an issue in modern times. Buildings are being made more airtight, the use of synthetic materials is increasing, and energy conservation measures that reduce the supply of outside air are popular—all factors that negatively affect air quality.

Canadian occupational health and safety legislation states that employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace, and that includes clean, good quality air. Furthermore, improving air quality can boost employee productivity and well-being. It is in employers’ best interests to test the air quality in the office and take steps to ensure that their work environment is safe and clean for all occupants.

Office Air Pollutants

The following pollutants have a wide variety of sources commonly found in the office:

  • Formaldehyde from particleboard, foam insulation, fabrics, glue, carpets and furnishings
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from copying and printing machines, computers, carpets, furnishings, cleaning materials, paints, adhesives, caulking, perfume, hairspray and solvents
  • Ozone from photocopiers
  • Carbon dioxide from the occupants of the building and fossil fuel combustion
  • Carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust
  • Allergens such as dust mites, animal dander and pollen
  • Fungi and mould caused by humidity or water damage
  • Bacteria and viruses

These pollutants can cause people in the office to experience dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, allergies, congestion, coughing and sneezing, dizziness and nausea, among other things. The term “sick building syndrome” has been coined for symptoms that appear related to time spent in the office.

 

How to Test Indoor Air Quality

To assess your office’s air quality, you must first conduct a visual inspection of the building. Look for possible sources of contamination or water damage, and make sure chemicals and cleaning products are properly sealed and stored. Check outside the building for any pollutants that may be drawn in through the ventilation system. The HVAC system should be inspected by a professional to make sure it is working properly.

Then, the building’s occupants should be questioned, particularly any who are experiencing symptoms. Air sampling to test for pollutants should only be done after these measures have been taken, and the sampling strategy used should be based on the information gleaned.

Equipment Used to Test Indoor Air Quality

Air sampling can be used to compare indoor and outdoor air quality, identify problem areas, and test hypotheses about the source of the problem. There are many different types of equipment that can be used to test the air, such as samplers, analyzers, and direct-reading devices. Some measure the air quality continuously, while others take one sample at a time. Some require lab analysis and specialized training, while others are simple to employ.

Simple, preliminary measurements such as temperature, humidity, air movement and CO2 levels may be done by anyone using portable devices, but these are limited in terms of their accuracy and ability to analyze the data. It’s best to have a qualified professional test the air quality in your office to identify the problem and work on a solution.

For more information on how to test air quality in the office, consult Health Canada’s guide to indoor air quality in office buildings.

 

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Control Pollutants at the Source

It’s important to control the causes of airborne pollutants in the building wherever possible. Too much humidity can lead to the proliferation of mould and other biological contaminants, so spills and leaks should be addressed promptly. The building should be cleaned frequently with non-toxic cleaning products. Consider investing in low-VOC carpets and have them vacuumed on a regular basis. You may also want to add plants to mitigate CO2 levels.

Improve Ventilation

Most office buildings rely on a ventilation system that pulls air in from the outside to improve the air quality indoors. However, if the ventilation system is clogged, faulty or has been hampered in order to cut heating and cooling costs, the air quality will inevitably suffer.

Purify the Air

Commercial air purification systems and UV air disinfection products make all the difference when it comes to office air quality. SANUVOX commercial air purification system can help you to eliminate or purify airborne pollutants, protect your employees and even help decrease HVAC energy consumption by keeping your coils clean !

 

Improve Office Air Quality with Sanuvox

Sanuvox is a North American leader in air purification and disinfection in the workplace. Our patented UV technology destroys contaminants and degrades chemicals and odours, significantly improving the air quality indoors.

If you would like to provide a safe work environment and boost your employees’ productivity and well-being, contact Sanuvox today! We’re a breath of fresh air.

10 Air Purifier Myths Debunked

Air Purifier Myths

Rumours about air purifiers circulate almost as much as the particles they catch! If you’ve ever wondered whether air purifiers can do everything they advertise, you’re not alone. People have a lot of questions about the effectiveness of air purifiers and whether they’re safe for use or not.
Luckily, the experts at Sanuvox are here to separate fact from fiction! In this article, find out the truth behind 10 common air purifier myths.

Myth 1: Air purifiers don’t do anything

Air purifiers are often misconstrued as a waste of money with no significant benefits. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Air purifiers are extremely effective at trapping all kinds of harmful airborne particles and pollutants commonly found in the home, from dust mites, pollen and mould spores to carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and viruses.

Just because air purifiers are quiet doesn’t mean they aren’t doing their job. If you need convincing, just pull out the filter and see for yourself how much debris the device is trapping!

Myth 2: Air purifiers are bad for you

Air purifiers are good for you! By removing particles from the air, air purifiers alleviate symptoms of allergies and asthma, reducing irritation and inflammation and improving sleep Air purifiers can also trap harmful pollutants that would otherwise lead to an increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart, and lung disease.

Myth 3: Air purifiers emit ozone

If you’re worried that air purifiers are bad for you, it may be because you have heard that they emit ozone. This used to be true, but it’s not the case anymore. Before 2005, the most popular air purifiers were ionizers that were essentially ozone generators. In 2005, Consumers reports showing that these types of air purifiers not only did a poor job of cleaning the air, but also exposed users to potentially harmful ozone levels.

Technology has come a long way since then, and most ionizers now produce negligible amounts of ozone. Of course, if you are still concerned, you can simply select an air purifier that does not include an ionizer. Air purification systems that rely on filtration or UV light do not generate ozone.

 

Myth 4: Air purifiers give off dangerous radiation

In fact, just like every other electronic device in your home, air purifiers do emit small amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Microwaves, cell phones, TVs and air purifiers all irradiate some level of EMF (Electro Magnetic Frequencies) radiation. The important thing to note is that these levels are extremely small and not remotely dangerous for your health.

 

Myth 5: If you have AC, you don’t need an air purifier

Air conditioners and air purifiers have completely different functions. Air purifiers clean the air by filtering out 99.97% of airborne particles. Air conditioners cool the air but have no effect whatsoever on harmful particulates and pollutants. While some air conditioners are equipped with filters, these are not nearly fine enough to trap the harmful particles targeted by air purifiers.

 

Myth 6: Air purifiers lower humidity and dry the air

You may be thinking of dehumidifiers! It’s easy to confuse the two because dehumidifiers can also lessen allergens and mould, but they go about it differently. Warm, humid air creates a breeding ground for mould growth and makes it easier for allergens to circulate. Dehumidifiers help prevent this by removing the moisture from the air, while air purifiers have no effect on humidity but trap the particles that are already circulating. Dehumidifiers and residential air purifiers are being used together to optimize the air quality in your home!

 

Myth 7: If you clean your house, you don’t need an air purifier, and vice versa

Household cleaning focuses on surfaces, while air purifiers clean the air. No matter how much you dust, and vacuum, dander, pollen, and mould spores can still permeate the air in your house. On the flip side, if you neglect cleaning, the most powerful air purifier in the world won’t be able to keep up with the settling dust. Cleaning and home air purifiers should be used together for best results.

 

Myth 8: HEPA filters trap odours, gases and VOCs

While HEPA filters are the gold standard for air purification systems, they are designed to trap solid particulates larger than 0.3 microns. Gases, all VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and many viruses are small enough to pass right through. Activated carbon filters and UV lights are the only ones that show some effectiveness for these types of pollutants.

 

Myth 9: UV air purifiers don’t work

While HEPA filters are designed to trap particulates, UV air purifiers use high-intensity germicidal UV light to break down micro-organisms and any DNA or RNA bio-contaminants like viruses.  Some argue that the contaminated air doesn’t pass through the UV light for long enough to be properly purified, but scientifically conducted testing has confirmed that processes such as Sanuvox’s patented high-intensity J-lamps deliver a high enough dosage of UV light to effectively break down the contaminants.

 

Myth 10: All air purifiers are created equal

Just like any other device, think about computers or cars for example, there are a wide variety of air purifiers on the market. They differ in terms of the amount of space they cover, how much noise they make, and what kind of purification technology they use. When looking for an air purifier, it’s important to consider your needs and do your research to find one that suits you.

 

Fact: Air purifiers are safe, effective, and available at Sanuvox!

Air purifiers are safe and effective. They are not rendered unnecessary by air conditioning or thorough cleaning. Different varieties of air purifiers are effective at purifying different types of contaminants, so it’s important to consider that when choosing which one to buy.


If you have more questions about UV air purifiers or would like to talk to a Sanuvox representative about our products, contact us today!
Learn more about available products, markets, and applications and access our company’s blog and whitepapers on this website.
Follow Sanuvox Technologies on Facebook (@SanuvoxTechnologies) and on LinkedIn (@sanuvox-technologies).

*Full laboratory test report available upon demand.


 

Reducing Odors in Waste Rooms

Reducing Odors in Waste Rooms

Facilities, apartments and condominiums often suffer from odors from the garbage rooms that migrate from the holding area to the garage or on the floors through the chute system.

Different stand-alone systems can be used to eliminate these problems by destroying bacteria and removing chemical and biological odors. The objective is to rapidly recirculate the air in the room in front of UV-C to break down bacteria’s DNA, and in front of UV-V to oxidize the chemical decay molecules while minimizing the residual ozone.

MANUAL SETTING EQUIPMENT

The Sanuvair® S600:
This stand-alone UV air purifier incorporates a variable blower of 300 to 600 cfm, an aluminum mesh washable prefilter to capture particulates and 3 full UV-V oxidizing lamps. According to the customer’s needs, one, two or three UV-V 6.5’’ U shaped  lamps are lighted up.

Room size:  up to 8,000 cubic feet

Suggested installation Sanuvair® S600:

AUTOMATIC SETTING EQUIPMENT

The Sanuvair® S300 OZD:
This stand-alone UV air purifier incorporates a two-speed blower of 220/300 cfm, a 2” pleated prefilter to capture particulates, 1 UVC/UVV lamp and 1 full UV-V oxidizing lamp tied with 20 ft of wiring to an ozone controller set at 0.025 ppm. The controller will sample the air every minute and trigger off the UV-V lamp if more than the set point of ozone is detected. It also comes with 2 extra prefilters.

Room size:  up to 3,000 cubic feet

Suggested installation Sanuvair® S300 OZD:

The Sanuvair® S1000 OZD:
This stand-alone UV air purifier incorporates a blower of 1,000 cfm, 2 x 1” pleated prefilter to capture particulates, 1 UVC/UVV “J” shaped 16” lamp and 1 full UV-V “J” shaped 16” oxidizing lamp tied with 20 ft of wiring to an ozone controller set at 0.025 ppm. The controller will sample the air every minute and trigger off the UV-V lamp if more than the set point of ozone is detected. It also comes with 2 extra prefilters.

Room size:  up to 10,000 cubic feet

Suggested installation Sanuvair® S1000 OZD:

Other articles that might interest you:

About PCO: Photocatalytic Oxidation

About PCO: Photocatalytic Oxidation

By Normand Brais, P.Eng., M.A.Sc., Ph.D.

Common Titanium oxide base catalyst: TiO2

In chemistry, PCO is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst. In catalyzed photolysis, light is absorbed by an adsorbed substrate. The photocatalytic activity depends on the ability of the catalyst to create electron–hole pairs, which generate free radicals (hydroxyl radicals: OH) able to undergo oxidation reactions. Its comprehension has been made possible ever since the discovery of water electrolysis by means of the titanium dioxide. Commercial application of the process is called Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) and is used for water treatment.

Titanium dioxide, particularly in the anatase form, is a photocatalyst under ultraviolet light. Recently it has been found that titanium dioxide, when spiked with nitrogen ions, or doped with metal oxide like tungsten trioxide, is also a photocatalyst under visible and UV light. The strong oxidative potential of the positive holes oxidizes water to create hydroxyl radicals. It can also oxidize oxygen or organic materials directly. Titanium dioxide is thus added to paints, cements, windows, tiles, or other products for sterilizing, deodorizing and antifouling properties and is also used as a hydrolysis catalyst.

Although this technology looks perfectly transposable to air, there is one main practical caveat that recently came to light: the titanium oxide is being “poisoned” by silica and its useful service life is severely impaired. After some longer time experience of this technology in the air, it was observed that the PCO would gradually decay and lose most of its oxidative potential within a year or less.

The effect of silica as a titanium oxide neutralizer is well known in the sunscreen industry. Every sunscreen with a physical blocker contains titanium dioxide because of its strong UV light absorbing capabilities, thus preventing UV from reaching the skin. Sunscreens designed for infants or people with sensitive skin are often based on titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, as these mineral UV blockers are less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical UV absorber ingredients, such as avobenzone.

However, to avoid the creation of carcinogenic radicals on the skin due to the activity of photocatalytic reaction, the titanium dioxide particles used in sunscreens are intentionally coated with silica. The addition of silica effectively neutralizes the photocatalytic properties of the titanium oxide, making the sunscreen harmless.

Because silica is commonly found in household applications such as caulking and many other materials, the PCO titanium oxide is contaminated with silica and will lose half of its activity within three months. This means that after 6 months, it will be down to 50% efficiency, after 9 months down to 25% efficient, and after a year down to 12.5% only. It will then cease to provide adequate performance as an air purification device. This is the main reason why serious companies are now taking a step back and even walking away from the marvelous promises of common titanium oxide based PCO as a solution for odor removal.

New Cobalt Photocatalytic Oxidation (Co-PCO)

Using UV light to achieve clean air and water resources through photocatalytic oxidation is a goal of scientists worldwide(1,2,3) over the last two decades. Photocatalysis is a widely generic term that applies to chemical oxidation reaction enabled by photon activated catalyst, commonly called PCO in the air purification industry.

PCO catalyst consists of a metal oxide semiconductor, usually titanium oxide (TiO2), with a band gap energy that allows the absorption of ultraviolet photons to generate electron hole pairs called “active sites” that can initiate the chemical reaction. For titanium oxide PCO, the energy band gap is centered on 360 nm photons, which is in the middle of the UV-A range (315-400 nm). This is quite far away from the UV-C range of common germicidal lamps emitting most of their photon energy at 254 nm wavelength and as such partially explains the rather deceiving efficiency of current titanium oxide based PCO air purifiers using low pressure mercury lamps. This low efficiency is mainly responsible for hazardous by-product formation such as formaldehyde. Another important barrier to the implementation of actual PCO is its short lifetime due to silica poisoning of the catalyst. Silica which is the main constituent of common sand is omnipresent in our daily environment. Siloxanes have been identified as the root cause of current PCO deactivation(4). As deactivation reduces the number of active sites available, incomplete oxidation becomes prevalent, promoting the production of by-products.

The fundamental effect of the addition of cobalt oxide is to shift the energy band gap of the catalyst toward higher energy photons closer to the 254 nm photons emitted by low pressure mercury lamps. With a capacity to absorb at higher energy, the cobalt enhanced catalyst provides enough photocatalytic activity to completely oxidize household VOCs(5,6) and avoid the transient formation of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and other incompletely oxidized by-products. It is worth noting that the higher energy active band gap of the Cobalt catalyst is much wider than the actual titanium oxide and was found to be almost insensitive to silica poisoning. Actual testing has shown no significant decline in the Cobalt catalyst activity after a full year in service.

References

  1. Peral,J.; Ollis, D.F. Heterogeneous photocatalytic oxidation of gas-phase organics for air purification: acetone,1-butanol, butyraldehyde,formaldehyde,and m-xylene oxidation. J.Catal. 1992, 136, 554-565.
  2. Dibble, L.; Raupp, G. Kinteics of the gas-solid heterogeneous photocatalytic oxidation of trichloroethylene by near UV illuminated titanium oxide. Catal. Lett., 1990,4, 345-354.
  3. Pichat,P.; Disdier, J.; Hoang-Van, C.; Mas, D.;Goutallier, G.; Gaysee, C. Purification/deodorization of indoor air and gaseous effluents by TiO2 photocatalysis. Catal today 2000, 63, 363-369.
  4. Warner, N.A.; Evenset, A.; Christensen, G., Gabrielsen, G.W.; Borga, K.; Leknes, H. Volatile siloxanes in the European arctic: Assessment of sources and spatial distribution. Env iron. Sci. Technol., 2010,4,7705-7710.
  5. Building Assessment Survey and Evaluation (BASE) study. Available online: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/base/index.html
  6. Hay, S.; Obee, T.; Luo, Z.; Jiang, T.;Meng, Y.; He, J.;Murphy, S.; Suib,S. The viability of photocatalysis for air purification. Molecules, 2015, 20, 1319-1356.

Odor Remediation of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Odor Remediation of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

By Normand Brais, P.Eng., M.A.Sc., Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION

Environmental Tobacco Smoke or ETS is a technical term which describes the contaminants released into the air when tobacco products burn or when smokers exhale. At room temperature, many of these compounds are gaseous but most are solid ash particulate and liquid droplets called aerosol.

Particles in tobacco smoke are especially problematic to remove not because of their small size (0.1 to 1 micron), but because they are coated with tar, nicotine, phenols, and many other pungent odorous compounds. They can remain airborne for hours after smoking stops.

Due to their aerosol coating, tobacco smoke particles are not dry but rather sticky and will inevitably clog the surface of any types of air filters, making them quickly wasted and thus ruling out the solution of simple filtration. Their stickiness makes them cling to walls, carpets, fabrics, and clothing, thus impregnating the environment with a lasting nasty smell.

This article describes those technical challenges and explores from a fundamental point of view the proper use of ultraviolet photo-oxidation process as a solution to remediate the odors caused by environmental tobacco smoke.

COMPOSITION OF CIGARETTE SMOKE

Studies have shown that cigarette smoke contains over 3,800 chemical compounds. Some of these compounds are shown in Table 1 below. Cigarette smoke aerosols are essentially condensable gases resulting from incomplete combustion. Combustion being an oxidation process, those aerosols can be rendered less sticky and turned into dry ash by completing their oxidation. Their odors would even disappear if they could be fully oxidized down to water vapor and carbon dioxide, which are odorless compounds. If one could draw the smoke cloud directly into the combustion chamber of an industrial fume incinerator at 850 Celcius for two seconds, the odorous molecules cocktail listed in Table 1 would be completely oxidized and consequently odorless. Although it would work perfectly, this solution is obviously not economically sound.

 

Table 1. Chemical composition of cigarette smoke

Duration of smoke production (sec)

20 sec

550 sec

Characteristics or compound

Mainstream Smoke

Sidestream smoke

Particles (number per cigarette)

1.05E+12

3.50E+12

a) Solid particles and aerosols

(mg/cigarette)

(mg/cigarette)

Tar

20.80

44.10

Nicotine

0.92

1.69

Benzo (a) pyrene

3.50E-05

1.35E-04

Pyrene

2.70E-04

1.01E-03

Fluoranthene

2.72E-04

1.26E-03

Benzo (a) fluorene

1.84E-04

7.51E-04

Benzo (b/c) fluorene

6.90E-05

2.51E-04

Chrysene, benz (a) anthracene

1.91E-04

1.22E-03

Benzo (b,k,j) fluorenthrene

4.90E-05

2.60E-04

Benzo (e) pyrene

2.50E-05

1.35E-04

Perylene

9.00E-06

3.90E-05

Dibenz (a,j) anthracene

1.10E-05

4.10E-05

Dibenz (a,h) anthracene, ideno-(2,3) pyrene

3.10E-05

1.04E-04

Benzo (g,h,i) perylene

3.90E-05

9.80E-05

Anthanthrene

2.20E-05

3.90E-05

Phenols (total)

2.28E-01

6.03E-01

Cadmium

1.25E-04

4.50E-04

Polonium 210, pCi

7.00E-02

1.30E-01

b) Gases and vapors

(mg/cigarette)

(mg/cigarette)

Water

7.50

298.00

Carbon monoxide

18.30

86.30

Ammonia

0.16

7.40

Carbon dioxide

63.50

79.50

NOx

0.014

0.051

Hydrogen Cyanide

0.240

0.160

Acrolein

0.084

0.000

Formaldehyde

0.000

1.440

Toluene

0.108

0.600

Acetone

0.578

1.450

Source: Introduction to indoor air quality: a reference manual, EPA/40013-91/003

 

AIR FILTRATION AND IONIZATION LIMITATIONS AGAINST TOBACCO SMOKE

Inspection of Table 1 shows that filtration alone could not handle cigarette smoke aerosols. Past experience has shown that the very small sub-micron size of the particles requires expensive HEPA filters that become tar coated and consequently clogged very quickly.

Besides classic filtration, there is another well-known way to remove sub-micron particulates from the air. Electrostatic air filters also called air ionizers have this capability. Instead of capturing particles mechanically like classic filters, the idea behind electrostatic or electronic filtration is to electrically charge the particles so that they will migrate due to electrical forces toward nearby surfaces. The same effect is obtained by rubbing a balloon on one’s hair and then sticking it to a wall. Eventually, the balloon loses its charge and falls back to the floor.

Many of the popularly called “smoke eaters” use the electrostatic principle to collect smoke particles on metal plates. The effect of ionizers on the smoke particles in the air is the same, except that they have no collecting plates and the charged particles end up sticking on the walls and surfaces of the room. It is worth noting that since the cigarette particles are sticky with tar, they will overtime coat all the room surfaces with pungent smelly yellow-brown tar extract.

Experiences with ionizers into small volumes like a hand jar is quite conclusive where the smoke particles of one cigarette can be easily dispersed toward to jar walls within 15 to 20 seconds. However when repeating the same experience in a larger volume like a 3m x 3m x 3m room, the time required to clear the air from the same amount of smoke goes up to several hours!

The explanation for this loss of effectiveness as the room size increases is rooted into basic fundamental physics of electrostatic forces: the Coulomb Law, which states that the electrical forces between charged particles decreases with the square of their distance. The Coulomb Law implies that when the distance is doubled, the electrical force is reduced by a factor of 4. When comparing the electrical forces in the small jar where the particles are within less than a few centimeters from one another and from a nearby wall with that of a room of a few meters wide, the electrostatic forces responsible for the dispersion of the smoke particles are down by the square of the ratio of 1 meter to 1 centimeter i.e. the square of 100 or 10,000 times less electrical force !

This fundamentally explains why experiment based on removing the same number of smoke particles in a normal size room takes several hours (10,000 + seconds) whereas the old sales-pitch demonstration videos performed in a hand size container takes seconds. Not only air ionization does not remove the odors due to the walls and surface tar coating effect, but their electrostatic actions are way too slow to have any significant cleaning effect except in a small jar. On top of their ineffectiveness, the fact that room surfaces will get gummy as they accumulate the electrically charged tar particles instead of using some internal cleanable capture plates like in all electrostatic smoke eater units, the air ionizers are in fact an ill-conceived version of an electrostatic smoke eater and an overall bad idea.

EFFECT OF ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT ON CIGARETTE SMOKE

When ultraviolet UV-C light photons hit a tar or nicotine molecule, they carry enough impact energy to break the interatomic chemical bonds and shatter the molecule into many smaller molecules. The energy of germicidal UV photons at 254 nm wavelength is 470 kJ/mole, an energy greater than the energy of all the chemical bonds listed in Table 2. By comparison, visible light with an average wavelength of 550 nm has photon energy of only 217 kJ/mol.

It is therefore quite clear that some bonds within tar, nicotine and phenols molecules in the smoke can be broken down by UV-C irradiation but not by visible light.

Table 2. Chemical Bonds Strength4

Chemical Bond

Chemical Bond Average Energy (kJ/mol)

C – C

347

C – H

413

C – N

305

C – O

358

C – S

259

 N – H

391

Therefore, the chemical bonds between carbon atoms and hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur atoms will be broken down by UVC ultraviolet photons, resulting broken pieces of molecules. Following this process, the broken molecules can now be further oxidized to complete their combustion and reduce their odor potential.

This oxidation can be accomplished by using a higher energy ultraviolet of 185 nm wavelength called UVV, where the second V stands for Vacuum. UVV photon have an energy of 645 kJ/mole but can only propagate into a vacuum because the dioxygen molecule in the air absorbs it and as a result gets broken up into monoatomic oxygen. At normal atmospheric pressure, UVV photons are almost totally absorbed within less than 5 mm away from a standard low pressure mercury quartz lamp UVV source. These free oxygen atoms generated by the UVV light are then able to react and complete the oxidation of the broken-down tar, nicotine, and phenols molecules.

The end products of this photo-oxidation process are then dry non-sticky ashes particles that can now be captured by adequate standard filters. This way the odors are eliminated by the oxidation process and the dry resulting particles removed by filtration.

The proper sizing to avoid oversizing of photo-oxidation system is of utmost importance. Should there be nothing to react with, the UVV generated oxygen atoms O* will react with dioxygen molecules O2 to produce ozone O3, another undesirable compound. Ozone is a not a stable molecule and will decompose naturally into normal dioxygen at ambient room temperature within 20 to 30 minutes depending upon relative humidity. The OSHA limit for 8 hours exposure is 0.05 ppm of ozone. Because the generation rate and the rate of decomposition of ozone in the absence of any smoke or other volatile contaminants in a given room size at an ambient temperature and ventilation rate can all be adequately calculated, it is possible to size an ultraviolet photo-oxidation system that will never exceed the OSHA safety limit.

CONCLUSION

This paper has described in detail the nature and composition of cigarette smoke and the consequential inherent shortcomings of classical filtration and electrostatic filters or air ionizers. Many years of experimental evidences backed by calculations based on cigarette smoke chemical composition show that the odor of cigarette smoke cannot be removed without altering the structure of the molecules responsible for the odors which are essentially tar, nicotine, and phenols. Besides thermal incineration, ultraviolet photo-oxidation has proven to be the most effective way to accomplish this by degrading and oxidizing those molecules. Their oxidation render the smoke particles dry and non-sticky which make them acceptable candidates for standard filtration. Care must be taken to adequately engineer the ultraviolet photo-oxidation system with respect to the room size and ventilation rates to keep the potential residual ozone well within the OSHA limit when the treated room becomes free from tobacco smoke.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author is grateful to Francisco Doyon P.Eng. and Grégory Clément P.Eng. for sharing their experimental data on the effect of air ionizers on environmental tobacco smoke inside rooms of various scale.

References

  1. C.N. Davies, Cigarette smoke: generation and properties of the aerosol, J.Aerosol Sci. Vol 19, No.4, pp463-469, 1988.
  2. Hays, Gobbell, Ganick, Indoor Air Quality, McGraw-Hill,1995, p.58.
  3. Spengler, Samet, McCarthhy, Indoor Air Quality Handbook. McGraw-Hill, 2001.
  4. UWaterloo, Bond Lengths and Energies. n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2010.
  5. http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~cch…20/bondel.html EPA. Reference Guide to Odor Thresholds for Hazardous Air Pollutants Listed in the Clean Air Act Ammendments of 1990.
  6. EPA/600/R-92/047, March 1992.

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Disinfecting Air & Reducing Ethylene in Cold Rooms

Disinfecting Air and Reducing Ethylene in Cold Rooms

Mold and bacteria can severely impact the quality of meat, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables that may be stored or prepared in warehouses and cold rooms. Ethylene off-gassing causes fruits and vegetables to prematurely ripen and aged, dramatically shortening shelf-life.

Sanuvox UV IL-CoilCean systems installed facing the cooling coil are designed to bask the coil and air with ultraviolet energy destroying microorganisms including bacteria, mold and viruses while oxidizing and reducing ethylene off-gassing.

With its high efficiency patented air disinfection systems, Sanuvox offers the right solution when the objective is to destroy airborne bio-chemical contaminants (e.g. bacteria, viruses, mold) that may affect the storage and preparation of fish, chicken and meat, as well as destroy ethylene off-gassing that causes produce to ripen faster.

THE EQUIPMENT

Multi-IL CoilClean units are installed facing the cooling coils in the fan coil unit. Each IL unit includes a UV-C/UV-V lamp mounted in an anodized aluminum parabolic reflector. The ballast box incorporates LED status lights for providing lamp status and replacement and can be remotely monitored.

OPERATING THE EQUIPMENT

The fan coil unit recirculates the air where:
1. The UV-C germicidal section of the UV lamp destroys airborne biological contaminants (viruses, mold, bacteria and spores).
2. The UV-V oxidizing section of the UV lamp reduces ethylene, slowing down the ripening process of vegetables and fruits. Coils remain clean and more energy efficient.

SLOWING DOWN THE CONTAMINATION SPREAD WITH UV-C
Produce will degrade due to the rotting process that is caused by parasitic fungi and mold. Food deterioration begins with the breakdown of the cellular tissue by enzymatic action that allows the growth of microbes. Germicidal UV (UV-C) is extremely effective at preventing the reproduction of bio-contaminants because UV-C destroys airborne fungi, molds and spores, limiting the contamination spread from one fruit to another. Meat, fish and chicken are especially vulnerable to airborne biocontamination. UV-C sterilizes the air, destroying contaminants as they circulate within the cold room.

RETARDING THE RIPENING PROCESS WITH UV-V
Photo-oxidation with UV-V can be used to reduce chemicals that trigger the ripening of fruits and vegetables. The life stages of a plant are influenced by plant hormones. An organic compound involved with ripening is ethylene, a gas created by plants from the amino acid, methionine. Ethylene increases the intracellular levels of certain enzymes in fruit and fresh-cut products, which include:

  • Amylase, which hydrolyzes starch to produce simple sugars.
  • Pectinase, which hydrolyzes pectin, a substance that keeps fruit hard.

UV-V oxidizes and thus neutralizes the ethylene molecules released by the ripening process, slowing down the spread of ripening to the surrounding produce. This oxidation process breaks down ethylene into carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Ethylene C2H4 C2H4+ O* -> CO2 +H2O

WHERE TO INSTALL

Many buildings and facilities can be equipped with the IL-CoilCean systems, like cold storage rooms, groceries, meat, fish and chicken storage, preparation facilities, fruit and vegetable retailers, warehousing and transportation.

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Fruits & Vegetables Surface Disinfection

Fruits and Vegetables Surface Disinfection

Surface contamination of fruits and vegetables is a problem for growers, distributors and retailers. Mold and bacteria can have severe effects causing produce to spoil.

Sanuvox UV IL Food Safe purifiers for food products and their packaging are exceptionally safe and versatile disinfection systems for surface, packaging and conveyor applications designed to bask meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, baked goods and packaging with UV-C germicidal light. The UV system is extremely effective at destroying surface contamination while extending product shelf-life. Only a few seconds of exposure can achieve up to 99.9999% destruction of common biological contaminants that are problematic in the food industry.

Incorporate the UV fixtures into the production line (i.e. over the conveyor belts) to bask the products and surfaces prior to packaging, maintening a sterile product ready for distribution and consumption.

As the system is incorporated into the production line, the lamps are covered with Teflon, that will trap pieces of grlass in the event of breakage.

When the objective is to prevent and destroy microbial contamination, such as bacteria and fungi that occur naturally on fruit and vegetable surfaces, and are responsible for premature decay, Sanuvox offers the right solution with its high efficiency patented air purification system. The process will leave no residue as is found using chlorine or irradiation treatments with gamma rays. At the producer level, sterilization of fruits and vegetables could reduce the use of pesticides.

THE EQUIPMENT

IL Food Safe purifier for food products equipped with parabolic reflectors and Teflon coated lamps will be positioned equidistant across the conveyor, parallel to it. Computerized sizing programs taking into account the speed of the conveyor and the contaminant(s) to be treated will determine the size of the lamps.

Typical installation:

OPERATING THE EQUIPMENT

The end user will determine the location and design of the lamp assembly enclosure that will attach to
the conveyor guaranteeing there is no direct UV exposure to employees. Fruits and/or vegetables will be exposed for a predetermined period of time to UV light as they move through the enclosure on the conveyor. This predetermined time will be sufficient to sterilize the fruit and/or vegetable pathogens and slow down ripening process.

RESEARCH ON STRAWBERRIES
Researchers from the Department of Food, Science and Nutrition (Laval University, Quebec, Canada) demonstrated that exposing strawberries to ultraviolet light prolongs their shelf life. Freshly picked strawberries exposed to germicidal ultraviolet (UV-C) have retained their freshness for 14 to 15 days, while untreated freshly picked strawberries were “almost done” on the tenth day.

The conclusions from this research have been published in the Food Science Journal. Refrigeration, which slows the growth of microorganisms and fruit ripening, allows a limited but effective mean regarding conservation of strawberries.

“Exposure to UV-C is a very interesting approach to facilitate the marketing and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables”, says researcher Joseph Arul. This treatment slows the ripening of strawberries: they remain firm longer, their respiratory rate is lower, their color is more attractive and the taste is not altered. “It is believed that exposure to UV-C would kill some mold on the surface of the fruit or, more likely, the treatment would stimulate the defense mechanisms of the produce,” suggests the researcher.

Arul’s team has already demonstrated the benefits of UV-C exposure for the conservation of carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and blueberries.

Arul does not anticipate negative reactions from consumers, unlike gamma irradiated food, or more recently, genetically modified organisms. “The technique is more acceptable to a consumer. In low doses, UV is beneficial. It is a light source and I do not think people have problems with that.”

WHERE TO INSTALL

Many facilities can be equipped with the IL Food Safe, like vegetable growers, fruit and vegetable importers, hydroponic producers, and value-added packagers.

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Fighting Tobacco Smoke

Fighting Tobacco Smoke

Designated smoking areas, althrough typically spared from working and living spaces, often cause problems with air that may very well circulate in and out of these areas. The smoking area itself may be overwhelmed with cigarette smoke, causing smokers to seek alternative places to smoke.

Sanuvox Technologies offers two units that are effective at removing tobacco smoke from the air and reducing cigarette odors, as well as nicotine and smoke that are so problematic. Unlike conventional technologies, Sanuvox UV systems do not use costly carbon for absorption nor rely solely on filters, which easily become coated with tar and nicotine The proprietory process changes the molecular structure of the tobacco smoke into a fine powder, which is then captured on the filter media. It is recommended that the UV systems be sized to provide a recirculation rate of 6 to 8 air changes per hour.

THE EQUIPMENT

Stand-alone Sanuvair® 300 VOC or Sanuvair® 1000 VOC UV air purifiers that include germicidal and oxidizing ultraviolet lamps, prefilters and a main filter to capture nicotine and smoke. An optional VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) detector can be used with multiple lamps when the number of occupants increases.

Typical installation:

OPERATING THE EQUIPMENT

Sanuvox dual zone UV lamp will reduce odors, nicotine and smoke in the room through recirculation. With the optional UV-V lamp(s) and VOC detector, if the smoke level increases (because there are more smokers), the VOC detector will trigger the additional oxidizing lamp(s), then shut them off when the level decreases. The cycle is repeated, lowering the odor, nicotine and smoke levels, until the maximum reduction is reached.

UNDERSTANDING THE CHEMISTRY
Cigarette smoke is composed mainly of:

  • White ash
  • Nicotine molecules
  • Chemical by-products

Ash will be trapped by the pre-filters. Nicotine will be transformed into a type of yellow powder that will be captured by the prefilters and the main filter. The chemical by-products will be oxidized by the UV process: high frequency UV-V energy activates the organic molecules and accelerates the chemical reaction, resulting in the air being oxidized. Odors are oxidized by the process of photolysis that initiates the breaking of chemical bonds by the action of the ultraviolet light. The oxidation process will reduce odors and chemical contaminants by changing the complex molecular contaminants into CO2 and H2O

SIZING THE EQUIPMENT

Approximately 6 to 8 air changes per hour are required. This reduces the standard of fresh air required by two thirds.

An Sanuvair® S300 VOC unit (300 cfm) will be sufficient for a 1,920 cu.ft. room (12’ X 20’ X 8’) with 9.3 changes per hour.

An Sanuvair® S1000 VOC unit (1000 cfm) will be sufficient for a 9,600 cu.ft. room (20’ X 40’ X 10’) with 7.5 changes per hour.

WHERE TO INSTALL

Many buildings and facilities can be equipped with one of these stand-alone units, like eldercare homes, private homes, poker rooms and casinos, bingo halls, cigar bar, or smoking rooms.

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