Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality

What’s the worst about mould – staff off sick, your own asthma, or the straight up £5K fine?

Office mould problem
Workplace mould – asthma, respiratory problems and one big expensive headache

Disaster, isn’t it? You never had asthma before, now you’re permanently gasping for breath.

Your staff aren’t much better. Most of them off half the time. The rest struggling with headaches, colds, flu.

Or whatever else feels like a heart attack, just climbing the office step ladder.

That horrible mould problem again. Those black marks on the wall last winter? 20 times worse now with summer humidity – and everybody’s paying for it.

£5,000 fines – and worse

Including you, now Health & Safety have got to hear about it.

Toxic black mould – you’re in for it now. At least a £5K arbitrary fine – possibly more if any staff have a condition that’s got worse, COPD or the like.

Sure, you were busy – but staff well-being has to come first. That’s the law.

It’s also your duty of care. And even if the building landlord won’t play ball, YOU’RE the one who should report it to Health & Safety, or your local council’s environmental health department.

Forget that, and it’s a £5K fine or worse.

Like the £12K compensation paid out recently for a claim of occupational asthma after 5 MONTHS of ignoring the problem.

Fix it, or else

And it’s not going away until you fix it.

OK, so it’s probably structural. Damp in the walls or something. Landlord’s problem.

But it could equally be YOUR FAULT.

Not enough ventilation. Or the reverse – running air conditioners all the time and the things leak moisture.

Which puts you in a JAM situation – Just Add Money.

Weeks or months of builders thumping through the place while everyone’s trying to work. Or shelling out for temporary prem while they get the place sorted.

And the costs keep racking up.

Because you’re liable at all times for staff safety. And as long as you keep exposing them to hazardous germs, you could get the book thrown at you – specifically the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

You keep LOSING money too – the downside of “germonomics”. Productivity goes through the floorboards – staff are listless, under-performing, a long way from the extra mile they always used to go for you.

But there IS a quick-fix.

It won’t solve the problem long term, but it will stop toxic black mould dead in its tracks – and any other harmful germs floating around too.

The 80% – 80% phenomenon

And we mean floating. Because in the enclosed environments we spend more than 80% of our time in, 80% of the space we move around in is air. Home to dust, pollution, tiny bits of human detritus –billions of viruses and bacteria – and billions of airborne mould spores.

Get rid of them – and you get rid of the mould problem, at least temporarily.

For 24 hours, definitely – maybe even up to a week.

But they won’t go for good until that leaky roof, busted pipe, missing damp course or unventilated cavity wall gets fixed.

All it takes is to mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide after everyone’s gone home. In around 40 minutes for the average room, it permeates everywhere – including through the air – oxidising ALL germs to nothing.

You can tell it’s worked because that toxic mould is no longer black. It’s pale grey and lifeless, safe to brush off and sweep away. And there’s no smell either. Your staff are safe in sterile surroundings. To a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

And since you’re being proactive in looking after their safety, you might just stave off the £5K penalty. You’ve done your bit, so the liability is the landlord’s.

Now all you have to do is work on that asthma.

How about two weeks in the sun? The staff too – they’ll probably earn it with their mojo back.

Then you’ll all be ready to reach for the stars.

Picture Copyright: skdesign / 123RF Stock Photo

How purified office air could still be full of germs

Unwell at work
You’re only as safe as the air you breathe – and everybody else breathes it too

You should be OK with purified air. But every system has its drawbacks.

Which means you may not be as safe as you think you are – even with the latest triple-whammy set up.

One reason is how most purifying systems work.

Passive instead of active.

A great big fan system sits in one place, sucking air through it. Filters next to the fan sift out contaminants – and the air goes round again, circulating for reuse. Purified.

HEPA efficiency

That’s usually pretty good with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) systems, which filter out particles down to a very small 0.03 microns.  Fine for fumes and exhaust sucked from outside, as well as smoke, dust, emissions from from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, electronic equipment, toiletries, people and pets.

Not so fine for harmful viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi – which are often very much smaller. A typical cough-sniffle cold bug like rhinovirus might be as small as 0.002 microns. Too small to be filtered out, too light for gravity to affect it. So it rides the air, round and round – waiting for us to breathe it in. Not purified.

An efficient alternative is to use ultraviolet light. A fan draws air in through a long exposure tube – the “killing zone”. Ultraviolet attacks the microorganism’s DNA, rendering it unable to reproduce. If contact is long enough, it becomes neutral and effectively dead.

But how long is long enough? To make sure of a kill, the air has to move fairly slowly. It can’t recirculate fast like the HEPA filter – unless it has a whacking great bulb. And if the bulb is too big, it produces too much ozone – an effective antimicrobial, yes, but hazardous to humans.

Those are the passive systems. Air goes to the germ-killer, not the other way around. It works only where there’s airflow. In quiet corners and along walls, the air is still and unmoving. Particulates and microbes are there for keeps. Not purified.

Active – go get ’em

More effective is to be active – to take the germ-killer to the air. To force it out positively, driving it to disperse in all directions pro-actively. To invade the air totally.

The vehicle is a dry ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide mist, which kills germs by oxidising them. The mist is ionised to become a plasma, forcing itself away in all directions, penetrating everywhere.

The actual solution is mild, only 6%. But ionising transforms it, producing further antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. From eco-friendly 6%, to turbo-charged 600%.

Electrostatic attraction causes oxygen atoms to grab oppositely charged viruses and bacteria. They are physically ripped apart – and the mist safely reverts to oxygen and water, which evaporates. Sterilised, purified, safe and secure.

OK, there is a downside.

Hydrogen peroxide won’t take out non-biological contaminants with anything like the same efficiency. Pollutants like volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, particulate matter and fibres are better removed by the regular HEPA filters.

But work the two together…

Picture Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo