Air purification – the new ‘must-have’ for club operators?
Ventilation has become a hot ticket during the COVID crisis. But should club operators now even take medical air purification into consideration? New systems effectively remove viruses, germs, bacteria and allergens from the air but also from surfaces and might therefore also stay relevant after the pandemic. We discussed the relevance of such devices for hygiene concepts and latest club insights with schwa-medico, experts in medical device technology, and Matrix, a manufacturer with 45 years of experience in premium fitness and health equipment.
Dominic Heilig is Sales Director at schwa-medico, Jürgen Aschauer is Business Development Director at Johnson Health Tech.
FIBO: Air purification, how does this work?
Dominic Heilig: There are currently a wide variety of different systems on the market that claim to provide effective air purification. Our AernoviR line of devices cleans the air effectively and permanently from viruses, germs, bacteria and allergens using professional plasma technology. In plasma-based air disinfection a dielectric material and high voltage are used to generate a plasma that effectively kills germs and deactivates viruses.
How does this technology differ from others?
Heilig: The big benefit of this system lies in the large surface contact of the air with the plasma electrodes, which ensures a really high purification volume and sustained sterilisation. Quality systems combine plasma-based air disinfection with HEPA and activated carbon filters. The triple action of these systems makes for a comprehensive active mechanism. Such systems not only confirm their effectiveness with certificates but their operators are even allowed to make active health claims, i.e. advertise the avoidance of diseases.
Why is air purification so important? How can I imagine an aerosol cloud?
Heilig: Aerosols are tiny particles that can linger on in interior air for hours. Where many aerosols float in the air, the individual particles clash and form aerosol clouds, which only deposit on surfaces such as training equipment hours later. The higher the concentration of viruses and germs in the air, the higher the load on the surfaces.
Existing hygiene concepts for fitness clubs, however, do not foresee the use of professional air purification. Are there any empirical values for clubs?
Jürgen Aschauer: In the “Concept for Re-opening Fitness Clubs” published by the German Fitness and Health Industry Association (DIFG) explicit reference is made to the infection risks caused by droplets and aerosols. At present, leading aerosol researchers have again pointed out in a “Public Letter” that infections also occur in interiors if people do not directly meet with each other. This is the case if an infected person has stayed in a poorly ventilated room before. In the same context, the use of interior air purifiers and filters is recommended as a suitable measure for avoiding infections. Due to the acknowledged substantial removal of virus-contaminated aerosols professional air purification systems are now included in the state aid schemes as part of Bridging Allowance III.
How does the fitness market respond to this?
Aschauer: Demand is high and the number of orders is rising. The devices in the AernoviR line are already employed in all clubs of several major fitness chains. Numerous independent operators have also equipped their facilities with devices. Since last autumn if not before club operators had to take a close look at the quality/pollution of interior and breathing air and realise that – on the current state of knowledge – the interaction of a variety of measures is the best way to minimise infection risk. Only a holistic hygiene concept can give members peace of mind at their clubs and minimise infection risks.
Will air purification systems be a competitive edge for recruiting new members in future?
Heilig: Yes, according to a representative survey conducted by YouGov Deutschland 51% of people in Germany currently avoid public interiors to protect themselves against Coronavirus infections. For the study 2,089 persons from the age of 18 were polled. 78% of these people, who at least occasionally visited a fitness club prior to the Corona pandemic, would feel safer and more inclined to come back in future, if the air in the club was purified by a clinically tested air purification system. The majority of individuals would therefore prefer a fitness club equipped with professional air purification systems to one without.
Can club operators also operate these devices wrongly? Could, for example, a wrong position in the room boost virus distribution?
Heilig: No, virus dissemination cannot be increased by another position of the air purification device in the room. The AernoviR system is particularly user-friendly and easy to handle since the devices are delivered “plug-and-play”. This means, they come with all the filters already in place. You just have to plug the safety plug into a socket.
Are there any additional benefits beyond the safety aspect? Can the devices control odours, for example?
Heilig: Next to air purification fat exhausts, odours, fumes and smoke are also filtered from the air and disposed of in a hygienic, fat, germ and odour-free way. Furthermore, the AernoviR series of products complies with the highest requirements being a Class I medical device – ensuring that staff and members feel even more at ease wanting to come back.
Thank you very much for the interview!
The interview was held by Cornelia Tautenhahn, Senior PR & Content Manager FIBO.