New Soldiers in the War on SARS

Driven by the fear of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and bio-terrorism attacks, owners of public buildings and airline companies are looking for ways to beef up their HVAC systems. What is being done to diminish the threat is varied and ranges from simple changes in procedure to complicated feats of engineering.

07/01/2003


Driven by the fear of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and bio-terrorism attacks, owners of public buildings and airline companies are looking for ways to beef up their HVAC systems. What is being done to diminish the threat is varied and ranges from simple changes in procedure to complicated feats of engineering.

In Toronto, where SARS has surfaced, but overall chance of exposure is limited, hotels are focusing on minor preventive measures aimed at increasing customers' sense of security, such as offering guests hand sanitizers and alcohol swabs. In China, where the outbreak has been more widespread, USA TODAY reports that hotels are replacing air filters weekly and turning the air conditioning up to the highest level in an attempt to remove any lingering particles from air ducts.

Hospitals are turning to solutions that involve more advanced ventilation technologies. Officials at South Fulton Medical Center in East Point, Ga., took precautions against SARS and other pathogens by creating negative-pressure isolation areas using a portable filtration system called HEPA-CARE. The system is capable of turning normal patient rooms into quarantined isolation areas. Bob Blankenship of Abatement Technologies, the Duluth, Ga. firm that manufactures HEPA-CARE, said his company sold almost all their inventory to Toronto hospitals shortly after SARS was reported there. Since then, he said, Abatement had done brisk business in the U.S.

Another company, Carson City, Nev.-based US Global Aerospace, unveiled its new, high-tech air filters, called Nanofilters, on June 24. First developed for NASA, the Nanofilters combine porous media with an electronic field that churns particulate matter in a direction perpendicular to airflow.

The company is marketing the filters to replace the standard HEPA filters commonly used in aircraft, which it says are ineffective against SARS. US Global is also offering Nanofilters to hospitals in Hong Kong and China. The new technology, and the disease prevention market it serves, have become so important that US Global also announced it is changing its name to US Global Nanospace.

For more information on disease-preventing air filters go to www.abatement.com or www.usglobalaero.com .





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