The 2020 worldwide spread of COVID-19 highlights the shortcomings in our ability to preserve public health when a highly contagious virus becomes airborne. In performing contact tracing, some epidemiologists have theorized that brief exposure to the virus is not typically enough for infection, and suspect that a critical load of viral particles may be circulated by the HVAC system of commercial buildings.
There are various methods for sterilizing air when it returns through an HVAC system for recirculation, including exposing it to ultra-violet (UV) light or using ionization to generate gases such as ozone (O3) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). UV is often preferred because it adds no additional gases to the air. Ozone and hydrogen have long histories as pharmaceutical sterilizers at high concentrations — but inhaling too much can cause respiratory problems or even death.
Many manufacturers have introduced hydrogen peroxide generators as a solution. These manufacturers posit that extremely low levels of hydrogen peroxide throughout a building (10-20ppb or 0.01ppm) will attract and kill viral particles while not impacting human health. These generators are sold both as stand-alone units and for integration into duct work by a variety of manufacturers.
When deciding to incorporate hydrogen peroxide generators into a facility, health and safety officers must consider several things. First and foremost, is H2O2 actually being generated? Second, does the generated hydrogen peroxide fully distribute throughout the facility and stay at proper levels for disinfection?
A proper evaluation of a solution requires accurate and continuous measuring of hydrogen peroxide. Purchasers of hydrogen peroxide systems should consider purchasing their own H2O2 gas analyzer to ensure that the investment they have made in hydrogen peroxide generators is properly installed and continues to generate a constant level of hydrogen peroxide in all habitable spaces.
Note: This article is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus. In this post, Picarro is not making any claim regarding any specific manufacturer’s effectiveness, nor is Picarro making claims on the efficacy of hydrogen peroxide in reducing the transmission of SARS-COV-2.