Because all variants of SARS-CoV-2, including Omicron, are spread via aerosols, it’s crucial to stop these infectious microparticles before they can infect. To protect you and your staff, here are two key ways to do that:
- Wear the Right Mask (N95, KN95, or KF94)
- Sanitize the Air with the Right Germicidal UV
Wear the Right Mask (N95, KN95, or KF94)
If you and your staff are not wearing a mask, it’s time to mask up (again). But as important as wearing a mask is wearing the right mask: N95, KN95, or KF94. Unlike surgical masks, the edges of these masks are designed to fit snugly around your face. Simply put, N95 and KN95 masks are rated to filter out 95% of particles 0.3 microns in size or larger; KF94s filter out 94%.
Simply breathing can spread the disease in indoor environments. People on your team who are not symptomatic may not know they have COVID-19. Properly fitting masks, with a good seal around the face, can help block infectious aerosols from escaping into the air when an infected person exhales and block them from being inhaled by others also wearing masks.
Why haven’t we always worn these masks? What has changed since the start of the pandemic?
- These types of masks are now widely available. At the beginning of the pandemic, they were in short supply and people were encouraged to not purchase so they would be available for healthcare providers. That is no longer the case.
- All leading health authorities now recognize SARS-CoV-2 is aerosolized. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the start of the pandemic when the focus was on transmission by larger droplets. The types of masks commonly used to block larger droplets are surgical and cloth masks, but they are not as effective in blocking aerosols which can flow around surgical mask gaps and through cloth weave. Moreover, Omicron appears to be more transmissible than other variants which is why proper masking is more important than ever.
How long do these masks last?
While they’re sold as singe use, that’s not the necessarily the case in the real world. Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and airborne transmission expert, offers these mask tips (via CNN):
- She wears her N95 week.
- An N95 mask’s material and filtration ability won’t degrade unless you physically rub it or poke holes in it.
- You’d have to be in really polluted air for several days before it lost its ability to filter out particles, “so, you can really wear them for a long time.”
- Referencing others who have suggested about 40 hours of wear-time as a good rule of thumb, Marr says, “I think that’s fine. Really, it’s going to get gross from your face or the straps will get too loose or maybe break before you’re going to lose filtration ability.”
For more tips on how to prolong the life and efficacy of your masks, check out “Can You Reuse a KN95 or N95 Mask? Experts Say Yes, but Follow These Steps” from Smithsonian Magazine.
Sanitize the Air with the Right Germicidal UV
Proper masking helps tackles the spread of infectious disease on an individual level, but additional protection is also available—and crucial—on a higher level throughout your building: sanitizing the air with germicidal UV. Masks can stop pathogens as small as 0.3 micrometers in size, but UV can kill as small as 0.1 micron. With regard to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), research has shown that the particle size is around 0.1 micron. Masks can still work, however, because the virus typically travels trapped in respiratory droplets and droplet nuclei which may be larger than 0.1 microns.
So masks, at 0.3 microns, can stop some of those particles, but not all. Cleaning the air is not only necessary during a pandemic but always to help mitigate the spread of infectious diseases that impact animals and the humans who care for them.
But it must be the right UV.
Since 2008, Aerapy Animal Health (Aerapy) has manufactured researched, tested, and study-backed commercial grade ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI or UV) products for animal care facilities. Today, we have expanded to the human market, but our roots are in animal care which is why we test our products to help ensure they not only tackle the diseases that can impact your staff, but the animals you care for as well. Our proprietary sizing method helps ensure you have the right amount of germicidal UV for maximum efficacy.
Aerapy UV kills more than 99.9% of:
- Feline calicivirus
- Canine influenza
- Canine parvovirus
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Canine distemper
- SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19)
Once these aerosolized infectious pathogens come in contact with Aerapy’s advanced UV devices designed for commercial indoor spaces, the powerful UV-C light disrupts and inactivates the pathogen’s DNA, killing it or rendering it harmless and thereby disinfecting the air.
Aerapy UV products are made in the USA and designed for ease of use and low maintenance costs. Since the UV field exploded in 2020, untested UV products have flooded the market with nothing more than slick marketing to back them. Are you buying the right UV for infection control? Be sure to ask the right questions, ask for product tests and studies, and ensure that the UV products can kill on contact or in one air pass. Because pathogens can spread within seconds, UV products that kill in minutes may be too late.
Sanitizing UV for HVAC systems
Aerapy UV devices for HVAC systems are integrated with the air handler unit to kill airborne viruses, bacteria, mold and other pathogens throughout your facility. The UV-C device for HVAC also keeps coils clean, allowing for improved energy efficiency and airflow throughout the building.
Upper air UV for targeted, immediate disinfection
In addition to UV for HVAC, upper air UV devices are crucial for immediate, targeted disinfection. Aerapy’s standalone upper room units, mounted on or near ceilings, include the option of built-in fans to circulate air more quickly and for faster air disinfection. Upper room UV units are ideal for high traffic areas such as lobby, boarding, and play areas. Veterinarians also use upper air UV in the surgery room for additional protection.
Air and surface disinfection for service and transport vehicles
DuoGuard by Aerapy is designed for service and transport vehicles including mobile veterinary clinics, mobile groomers, mobile animal shelter transport and adoption vehicles, mobile spay and neuter vehicles, and more. In the confined and hard to clean spaces where infectious pathogens can quickly spread, the patented DuoGuard with Aerapy’s UV technology helps guard against risks two ways: air disinfection during transport and surface disinfection after transport. During transport, an integrated fan creates powerful airflow for air disinfection. After transport, once unoccupied, the UV device sanitizes exposed surfaces, after normal cleaning procedures, with the push of a button.
Aerapy offers science-backed and award-winning air and surface UV-C disinfection solutions and is your trusted partner in animal care. To schedule a free UV consultation, call us at 866-994-2473 or contact us online.