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Use of portable air purifiers to reduce aerosols in hospital settings and cut down the clinical backlog

Salmonsmith, Jacob; Ducci, Andrea; Balachandran, Ramanarayanan; Guo, Liwei; Torii, Ryo; Houlihan, Catherine; Epstein, Ruth; ... Lovat, Laurence B; + view all (2023) Use of portable air purifiers to reduce aerosols in hospital settings and cut down the clinical backlog. Epidemiology & Infection pp. 1-17. 10.1017/S0950268823000092. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

SARS-CoV-2 has severely affected capacity in the NHS, and waiting lists are markedly increasing due to downtime of up to 50 minutes between patient consultations/procedures, to reduce the risk of infection. Ventilation accelerates this air cleaning, but retroactively installing built-in mechanical ventilation is often cost-prohibitive. We investigated the effect of using portable air cleaners (PAC), a low-energy and low-cost alternative, to reduce the concentration of aerosols in typical patient consultation/procedure environments. The experimental setup consisted of an aerosol generator, which mimicked the subject affected by SARS-CoV-19, and an aerosol detector, representing a subject who could potentially contract SARS-CoV-19. Experiments of aerosol dispersion and clearing were undertaken in situ in a variety of rooms with 2 different types of PAC in various combinations and positions. Correct use of PAC can reduce the clearance half-life of aerosols by 82% compared to the same indoor-environment without any ventilation, and at a broadly equivalent rate to built-in mechanical ventilation. In addition, the highest level of aerosol concentration measured when using PAC remains at least 46% lower than that when no mitigation is used, even if the PAC’s operation is impeded due to placement under a table. The use of PAC leads to significant reductions in the level of aerosol concentration, associated with transmission of droplet-based airborne diseases. This could enable NHS departments to reduce the downtime between consultations/procedures.

Type: Article
Title: Use of portable air purifiers to reduce aerosols in hospital settings and cut down the clinical backlog
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0950268823000092
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268823000092
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Mechanical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Targeted Intervention
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10163638
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