Planning and pulling off a successful trade show or convention is a massive undertaking. Any organizer knows there are many details that you’re working with at any given time, constantly checking in on progress and trying to keep all of the balls in the air… which makes it all the more difficult when the actual air might be another problem for your event!
From the virus’ standpoint, there could not be a more perfect scenario for it to spread than conventions. They’re typically indoors. They’re networking events where people frequently meet and greet each other with handshakes. They handle the same equipment on display. Then maybe they mingle at lunch, dinner, or an after-party. And finally, they all head for home, all over the country, carrying the virus with them all the way. Where they hug their friends and family, who go off to their own school or work…you get the idea.
Throughout the pandemic, contact tracing has proven many times over that, conventions, concerts, rallies, and any type of gathering made this easily transmissible virus very difficult to control. With the vaccine rollout we can all be a little safer, but with many businesses and convention event centers reopening, we need to do as much as we possibly can to stay open.
Besides the day-to-day recommendations that a convention center can put into place (social distancing, masks, limiting capacity, vaccine requirements, etc.), owners and event organizers need to pay attention to the air quality and airflow control ways that they can make their space even safer.
Increased ventilation is always a good way to mitigate any airborne virus. The CDC will recommend that any gatherings be outdoors as the open air will help to dilute the air of many contaminants and lower (but not eliminate) the risk of transmission.
As most conventions and trade shows need to be indoors, this is obviously not always possible. Depending on your location, opening your space to the outdoors can help if there are windows available. You can also talk to your HVAC maintenance teams and discuss your ventilation settings. Many office buildings are adjusting the outdoor air intakes on their systems as their employees are returning to work to try to add more fresh air to their environments and help prevent any new outbreaks.
HEPA Filters and Air Purifiers
Talk to your HVAC maintenance team about the filtration in your air systems. Most basic filters are there to catch dust, debris, and other allergens. But upgrading to HEPA and other high-quality filters has been proven to prevent viruses like COVID from making their way through your entire air delivery system.
Air purifiers and other conventional “air cleaners” are helpful in maintaining air quality, which helps fight COVID-19 and its spread. However, air filtration of this type should absolutely be used in conjunction with other mitigating techniques, such as social distancing and masks, to lower transmission risks significantly.
Bipolar Ionization Devices
This is an emerging tech that has seen a rapid rise in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bipolar ionization devices generate positive and negatively charged particles, and these particles attach themselves to the virus particles and cause a reaction in the virus’s surface proteins, preventing them from infecting other cells.
As a newer method, there haven’t been as many replicated and peer-reviewed studies completed as some folks in the industry would like, but teams of researchers at the Nagasaki and Shimane Universities have had very good results at disinfection, reducing any aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 particles by 91% or above after 30 seconds or less of exposure!
Ultraviolet energy can kill microbes, bacteria, and virus particles. It’s not uncommon for operating rooms to use UVC lights for sterilization. It has also been proven to be an effective sterilizer against the SARS- CoV2 particles, making it very useful to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
UVC works by deactivating viruses by way of a chemical reaction that effectively stops any replication of the virus cells, which is basically a death sentence for virus particles.
The biggest problem with using UVC sterilization is that the wavelength used (254 nm light) is harmful to humans under direct exposure. The same process that keeps virus cells from replicating doesn’t do the human body any favors, so you can’t exactly just set it up in the middle of your convention hall floor. However, it’s still a very effective method to consider! Talk to your HVAC professional about installing the lights inside the HVAC ducts themselves, acting as an energy filter as your system pushes air through the UVC system.
A Team Effort
If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything over the last two years, it’s that we’re truly all in this together. Public health is a public responsibility, and as much as we all love when a problem has a simple single solution, a highly transmissible microscopic virus is just too complex of a problem to be solved by one method.
Anyone experienced with setting up safe public events or conventions knows that it’s always a team effort, and the pandemic has made that much more difficult and complicated. Social distancing and capacity restrictions have been incredibly effective at reducing spread. Hand-washing increased hygiene, and disinfection of surfaces are great mitigating factors to help limit spread as well.
Nobody enjoys lockdowns, so talk to us about how we can help you take the best airflow precautions and keep your building safe and comfortable. Airtek is a leader in not only duct cleaning but duct sanitizing and disinfection as well. With over 95,000 successfully completed duct cleaning jobs for almost thirty years, the company has a successful track record that could assist your next tradeshow or convention.