To Bring the Office Workforce Back Safely, the Science Backs Bi-polar Ionization
Since the widespread switch to remote working during Covid, only approximately 28% of U.S. office workers have returned to their buildings. Though the percentage of office space currently being utilized across the country is still low, that number is expected to rise dramatically between July and October of this year, providing many building owners with optimism. Still, there are some concerns about the safety of air quality and how this will impact end user confidence. Bi-polar ionization is the solution an increasing number of commercial owners and employers are turning to both for clean, healthy air and promoting end user confidence.
Bi-polar Ionization significantly reduces the presence harmful pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, mold and allergens, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The technology works by distributing positive and negative ions into the air through existing HVAC system or portable air cleaners, mimicking a natural process that occurs at high altitudes, where the air is fresher and cleaner. Essentially, the ionization causes production of clusters of hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which form on the surface of microbes, removing hydrogen from the microbes’ cell walls, inactivating potentially infectious or harmful particles.
Cosentini Associates, a long-established building system consulting engineering firm headquartered in New York City, recently deployed AtmosAir’s bi-polar ionization technology for continuous disinfection, within their indoor office space in New York City to improve indoor air quality for employees and customers who work and visit their office. As indoor air quality remains a priority for many, Cosentini is measuring and leveraging digital sensors and modular air control technology to provide and maintain optimal indoor air quality within their office space.
With an effort to ensure the health, wellness, and safety within the indoor environment, third-party testing and validation was completed within Cosentini’s office space by April 2021. When AtmosAir bi-polar ionization is properly applied within the indoor environment, the efficacy of proven results is shown below as to how to reach optimal indoor air quality effectively. Cosentini’s effort to deploy AtmosAir bi-polar ionization is one part of the overall solution to a healthier indoor environment. With real-time indoor air quality monitoring and data transparency, employees and visitors are able to view the quality of the air they are breathing. It is maintained at an optimal level leveraging AtmosAir bi-polar ionization technology and the power of dynamic digital controls, sensors, and real time indoor air quality monitoring.
AtmosAir’s bi-polar ionization technology in Cosentini’s indoor office space, in New York City, significantly increased air ion levels without increasing ozone levels. AtmosAir dielectric barrier discharge bi-polar ionization was tested and showed improvements to air quality within indoor spaces when increasing ambient ion levels between 500 and 1,500 ions per cm3. The indoor air quality is continually monitored in the occupied spaces and found to be significantly better than the air outside the building.
Specifically, at these saturation levels, the system’s technology has shown 85.8% reduction to 0.3 micron particles as tested by the Intertek to ANSI/AHAM AC 1 method. The average reduction in VOC compounds, tested by Syracuse University to ANSI/AHAM AC 2 method came out to 90%. Additionally, ATL testing showed a 99% reduction in aerosolized MS2 Staph and Ecoli within the air.
Importantly, AtmosAir did not contribute to a rise in ozone, and in several areas, ozone levels were actually higher with AtmosAir systems turned off. Overall ozone levels with AtmosAirTM systems operating were .007 PPM (7 PPB), well below the most stringent guideline for indoor ozone levels of .05 PPM (50 PPB) as established by CARB (California Air Resources Board) and the governmental standard by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) of .1 PPM (100 PPB). Indoor ozone levels without AtmosAir systems operating averaged .017 PPM, (17 PPB). Outdoor ozone that day measured .04 PPM (40 PPB).
AtmosAirTM ionization systems at the offices of Cosentini, utilize dynamic ionization control using the AtmosSmart system which measures and leverages digital sensors to provide for optimal ion output. The sensor array of ionizers continually monitors the dynamic indoor air quality conditions: Temperature, Relative Humidity, Carbon Dioxide, Total Volatile Organic Compounds, Formaldehyde, PM 2.5, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone.
Threshold value limits are controlled through proprietary algorithms for the measured elements based on existing standards and guidelines for air contaminants (USEPA, WHO, OSHA, NIOSH). As air quality levels change, the ionizer will automatically adjust ion intensity levels for optimal concentrations.
Simply put, more and more people are looking to return to the office soon. Building owners and employers are being more proactive about how they provide transparency in the benefits of the workplace, such as indoor air quality and more. Amenities, culture, technology and team bonding experiences are just a few things employees eagerly anticipate upon their return. Additionally, many modern workplaces tout the health and wellbeing benefits of their workplace offerings, whether its outdoor spaces, natural light, biophilia or activity- based spaces that combat sedentary workstyles. One area that’s being added to this wellness framework is indoor air quality.