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Fitness Centers Indoor Air Quality and Transmissible Disease

From MRSA to COVID-19, Germs Can Kill

Fitness Centers Indoor Air Quality and Transmissible Disease 1

Pre-COVID-19, the words “pandemic” and “deadly transmissible disease” didn’t affect most of us more than a passing notion. For athletes, coaches, and athletic clubs the focus on indoor air quality in their locker rooms was primarily limited to odor control. Then MRSA hit the scene.

For nearly a decade, bacterial staph in the form of MRSA (1) has plagued players and continues to do so. But now there is a greater threat in the locker room – viral Coronavirus (2) and thwarting both present considerable challenges.

MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. This means that the antibiotics that used to kill the bacteria — such as methicillin — no longer work. This makes MRSA infections much more difficult to treat.

MRSA first surfaced in hospitals, where it often caused serious bloodstream infections in people who were sick with other diseases and conditions. Now there are varieties of MRSA that occur in nonhospital settings. These infections typically affect the skin of otherwise healthy individuals (3) — such as athletes from time spent in locker rooms.

MRSA Transmission

MRSA is usually spread through physical contact – not through the air. It is usually spread by direct contact (e.g., skin-to-skin) or contact with a contaminated object. However, it can be spread in the air if the person has MRSA pneumonia and is coughing, though this is uncommon in an athletic setting since someone with pneumonia would be unlikely to be present for athletic activity.

MRSA Preventative Measures

The CDC recommends:

  • Always keep athletic facilities, such as locker rooms, and shared equipment clean whether or not MRSA infections have occurred among the athletes.
  • Shared equipment should be cleaned after each use and allowed to dry.
  • Repair or dispose of equipment and furniture with damaged surfaces that do not allow surfaces to be adequately cleaned.
  • Clean equipment, such as helmets and protective gear, according to the equipment manufacturers’ instructions to make sure the cleaner will not harm the item.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a disease caused by Coronavirus SARS-COV-2 that can trigger a mild to severe respiratory infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, mainly through person-to-person contact. Infections range from mild to deadly. (4)

COVID-19 Transmission

As of now, researchers know that the new coronavirus is spread through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet, and they fall to the ground (or onto surfaces) in a few seconds — this is why physical distancing is effective in preventing the spread.

Over time, hospitals and other healthcare facilities developed stringent hygiene routines that successfully reduce the prevalence of bacterial staph and other transmissible diseases. But Covid-19 has presented new challenges – challenges that professional teams and athletic departments are only now trying to conquer.

COVID-19 Preventative Measures

The battle of keeping athletes healthy is challenging but not impossible. Following all CDC recommendations mentioned above, under MRSA prevention in addition to the Hierarchy of Controls model recommended for COVID-19 prevention. (5)

Fitness Centers Indoor Air Quality and Transmissible Disease 2

The first and third control methods are elimination and engineering controls, both of which require action to improve indoor air quality. The first, elimination, requires a 987 AMB HEPA source control unit that would physically eliminate viruses that pollute the air and removing surface bacteria. Engineering controls such as proper HVAC systems and HEPA Air Scrubbers and Room Air Cleaners.

Understanding How Positive / Negative Pressure Machines Are Used in Healthcare

Understanding How Positive / Negative Pressure Machines Are Used in Healthcare 1

Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, we, as a global population, continue to find ways to keep our indoor air quality clean and free of potentially threatening particles, dust, and germs. Never has there been a time in modern history that we have faced such an urgency.

Public health emergencies, such as the Covid-19 crisis, require systematic protocols to protect citizens from airborne contaminants and infectious diseases. The medical community and the patients they labor to protect are even more vulnerable than the general public and require many extra layers of protection against illness.

Existing healthcare practices generally include personal protective equipment and accessories, patient isolation, and environmental control. But for the most aggressive communicable diseases, additional measures such as a negative pressure machine are recommended. 

To understand its effectiveness in this circumstance, one must become familiar with this particular piece of equipment and understand how it operates.

What is Negative Pressure Air Cleaning?

This type of air purifier, when using negative pressure, removes airborne pollutants from a contained space so as to prevent the spread of contamination to other parts of a building or structure. 

How Does a Negative Pressure Machine Work?

The unit creates a negative vacuum that pulls air in and through a filter (such as HEPA or ULPA) and attached ductwork to remove impurities such as microbes, dust, and molds. Thus, preventing dirty air from leaving the space.

What Is Positive Pressure Air Cleaning?  

When using positive pressure, the air cleaner maintains a higher room air pressure than that of the surrounding environment, meaning particles are filtered as air leaves a room and are prevented from returning.

Are They CDC or OSHA Approved?

Neither the CDC nor OSHA approve indoor air quality equipment – to say a piece of equipment is CDC approved is misleading. Both organizations set standards that need to be met by businesses and healthcare facilities. Quality air cleaning equipment can help such organizations meet these standards and adhere to such regulations.

What are examples of Positive/Negative Pressure Rooms?

Patients with infectious diseases, such as the Covid-19 virus, require isolation treatment in a space with a negative pressure machine. This reduces the chance of germ transmission via doorways and HVAC systems. Other examples of medical spaces that require negative pressure machine cleaning are waiting rooms, ERs, facility bathrooms, and decontamination spaces.

Positive pressure rooms require consistent filtration of harmful pollutants so clean air is always maintained. Examples are operating rooms, laboratory clean rooms, and in vitro fertilization labs. 

The type of pressure machine product that is right for a given application will depend on whether or not an area or room and the air within need to be isolated or protected from outside contaminants. At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. we provide to our customers our Extract-All® Ultra Clean Air room air cleaning system. It is a portable, self-contained high-efficiency system that uses HEPA or ULPA filtration. For more information, contact us for a free estimate with one of our clean air experts.

Indoor Air Quality Considerations & Airport Smoking Lounges

Designated Airport Smoking Lounges Pose Indoor Air Quality Challenges.

Designated Airport Smoking Lounges Pose Indoor Air Quality Challenges

While the number of US airports offering designated smoking areas has declined in the past ten years, many still do exist. A study conducted by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that the average air pollution levels directly outside airport smoking lounges were 23 times higher than in smoke-free airports.

The CDC focused their study on the top five commercial airports that have not imposed a smoking ban. Located in major cities (save one), the five airports highlighted in the report span the map: Denver and Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Virginia’s Dulles International. Together these five served more than 110 million passengers last year, representing close to 15% of all US air travel.

Airport spokesmen at these hubs assert that designated smoking areas are an important service amenity; one that helps smoking customers who have short layovers avoid missing flights (should they feel compelled to smoke outside, far from their connecting terminal). In addition, they say, it affords an alternative to their lighting up in a non-designated spot, potentially affecting non-smoking clientele.

The most recent statistics report that the smoking rate in America is on the decline with only 15% of adults participating in the habit. While that may be true, countless people still smoke. And with over 500 commercial service airports in our country – taking into consideration that the majority are smoke-free – a lot of travelers mean a lot of SHS exposure.

But there are even more non-smokers who travel and as long as an airport that serves the commercial public continues to allow smoking, the vast majority of passengers, flight crews, and airport workers – anyone who is in proximity to, cleans, or works near a designated smoking area – including lounges, bars, and restaurants – should be protected from SHS exposure, particularly airport employees who are not merely passing through for the day.

SHS Exposure: What Do We Know & What Can We Do About It?

The aforementioned CDC report cautioned that separating smokers from the rest of the airport population isn’t enough to prevent SHS exposure and that the only safe level of SHS exposure is none at all. And yet, many airports still allow smoking. For designated smoking rooms in these airports, industrial extraction methods are vitally important. Industrial extraction is the process in which harmful air contaminants are removed from the atmosphere for the protection of passengers and employees. This is critical for a safe and healthy airport environment.

Consider the pollutants emitted from secondhand smoke. There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes, creating more than 7,000 chemicals. Nearly 70 of those are proven carcinogens. Toxins such as arsenic, benzene, lead, and toluene are present in various other consumer products; all of which require warning labels to alert consumers to the possible risks. Oddly enough, the same warning labels are not required for cigarettes.

It used to be assumed that SHS exposure posed only a minor threat – one that disappeared once the smoke evaporated. But consider the fact that every year over 41,000 people in the US die from SHS exposure, with the most vulnerable being children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with respiratory problems.

Until there is full participation amongst commercial airports in terms of banning smoking entirely, indoor air cleaning measures are of the utmost importance; the public health implications demand it.

At Air Systems Inc, we are an authority on indoor air quality and supply our customers with stellar air cleaning products. For the safety of your airport employees and passengers, contact us today for a free indoor air quality assessment from one of our skilled and experienced environmental experts.