By Ryan Hussey
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping enclosed, public spaces sanitized and clean is of the utmost importance. Commercial elevators, for example, are considered highly infectious spaces as they contain many high-touch areas within a small enclosure. Call buttons, doors, and handrails are all breeding grounds for germs.
According to Infection Control Today, an elevator contains 40 times the amount of bacteria compared to a public toilet seat. So, how can we ensure commercial elevators are safe to use during a time where cleanliness is essential?
Consider commercial elevator purifiers as a cost effective and convenient solution.
Just How Contaminated Are Commercial Elevators?
Before discussing how purifiers work, it is important to understand why they are crucial in disinfecting elevators:
- About one-third of elevator buttons are colonized by bacteria. (NCBI)
- Scientists found that a typical elevator button consists of nearly 40 times as many germs as a public toilet seat. (Infection Control)
- A hotel elevator has 1,477x more germs than a household bathroom door and 737x more germs than a household toilet seat (Upgraded Points)
How Do Air Purifiers Work to Disinfect Commercial Elevators?
An air purifier is a device that removes contaminating particles, including pollutants, allergens, and viruses from the air through the process of air sanitation. Certain versions of air purifiers may use filters to trap particles, while others may neutralize the particles in the air without filtration.
What Are the Different Processes of Commercial Elevator Purifiers?
There are four different types of air purifying processes that clean the air and surfaces within a commercial elevator:
- HEPA Filter
The HEPA system works by using an internal fan to absorb air into the machine and pass it through a filter. As air filters through, the system traps pollutants inside and passes clean, breathable air out the other side. This type of filter captures fine pollutants down to .3 microns in size.
- Activated Carbon Filter
An activated carbon filter works by using an internal fan to draw in and trap the contaminants. Activated carbon differs from HEPA filters because it absorbs specific types of pollutants, including odors, vapors, gases from smoke, chemicals, paints, and other toxic compounds.
An ionizer is a filterless design that works by emitting negatively charged ions through the air that latch onto pollutants. The particles then become too heavy to remain in the air. This is typically not the best source for commercial elevators because these pollutants remain on the ground until they are cleaned up.
- Ultraviolet Light
This process uses an ultraviolet light to inactivate pathogens and microorganisms as they pass by the purifier. This is the only type of air purification system that can kill airborne bacteria and viruses and is recommended for small spaces like commercial elevators.
It is important to note some purifiers can contain more than one of the processes listed above to ensure health and safety within the space of the commercial elevator.
What Are Commercial Elevator Purifiers Effective Against?
Commercial elevator purifiers are effective against:
- Volatile Organic Compounds
Do Commercial Elevator Air Purifiers Slow the Spread of COVID-19?
The short answer is, yes. According to Professor of Exposure Assessment Science and Director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University John Allen, an air cleaner with a HEPA filter “can absolutely help reduce the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19.” If an individual with COVID-19 utilizes a commercial elevator, the air purifier will trap the virus molecules within the system, and filter out cleaner, safer air to breathe. As a result, the risk for virus contamination will significantly decrease.
How to Choose the Right Purifier For Disinfecting Your Commercial Elevator
You will want to find an air purifier that is specifically designed to fit into smaller spaces, and targets the right pollutants, viruses, and bacteria for optimal sanitation. Consider your needs and determine your goals for your elevator disinfectant technology beforehand, then research available options. It is important to establish what you want out of your air purifier, so you can find the best one for your commercial elevators.
Hussey is VP of Operations for Stanley Elevator, overseeing the field, construction, and modernization teams. His resume includes over 10 years of first-hand experience in elevator field service, project management, surveying, estimating, and warehouse operations.