A lesson in air purification

Commercial air handler
Photo credit Getty images

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) "I give the governor credit for trying. But there's a little bit of a misnomer," said Peter Gordon, who has been in the air purification business for almost 30 years.

Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested this week that shopping malls will not reopen across the state until they install HEPA-filter systems, to reduce the presence of Covid-19 in the air.

"HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Arresting," said Gordon. "A local company, Austin Air of Buffalo, is the largest distributor for it. They make a decent filter. They make one of the better HEPA portable units."

Q: What kind of filtration system is in local grocery and big box stores that allows them to be open?

A: Supermarkets employ mostly high volume air systems. They're pumping so much air through those systems that they don't tend to get as dirty as a normal home or commercial duct system, which can be really gross, with people shedding 50-million dead skin cells per person, per day and it gets in the duct work and becomes a transport vehicle for a virus.  In those environments, Gordon said you want to be masked and do the social distancing.

Q: Can air conditioning units spread or recirculate the virus?

A: We don't know everything about the virus, but it reportedly survives better in cooler environments. Air conditioning is created by having chilled pipes and cooling coils that the air blows over. If there are virus particles that go in the intakes of these units, it could spread the virus, if there's not good filtration.

Gordon says there are tons of offices, many doctors and dentists, that are using portable filtration systems, because the installation on the air handling units can be prohibitive.