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Plymouth Metrolink (Minnesota) has become the first bus company in the United States to install air cleaning devices across its entire operational bus fleet, in order to protect its drivers from the risk of airborne transmission of coronavirus.
The company has installed 44 AirBubbl air cleaning devices in the driver section of their buses. The AirBubbl in-car air cleaner contains patented filtration and air flow technology that effectively removes particulates such as dust, pollen, soot, fibres, PM2.5 and PM10, along with bacteria and viruses and gaseous pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). It filters more than 99% of airborne viruses and contaminated particulate matter and floods the vehicle with over 30,000 litres of clean air every hour, to keep drivers safe.
Rensair, the UK-based company behind the AirBubbl device, believes that AirBubbl can play a huge role in getting passengers back into work and school, reducing the risk of airborne transmission of coronavirus on mass transit. With 50% of Americans saying that they are afraid to go back to the office when it re-opens due to health concerns, the technology could play a key role in reassuring the public that it is safer to travel.
Marc Ottolini of Rensair said:
"As stay-at-home orders have eased across the US, the focus now shifts to how we can get back to business safely.
"There is clear evidence that this virus can be transmitted through the air and that the dose matters – more exposure can lead to more severe illness. Our air cleaning technology can massively reduce this dose and cut the risk of infection for drivers and passengers. "Our technology has huge potential to increase confidence in public transportation and we are collaborating with some of the world’s leading mass transit companies to demonstrate how our air purification technology can enable buses, subways and trains to return to full capacity safely."
The AirBubbl devices have been installed as part of a range of measures implemented by Plymouth Metrolink to protect drivers and passengers throughout the pandemic, including temperature checks and evaluations for drivers, additional disinfecting measures for buses, fewer passengers and a requirement for everyone to wear masks.
Nur Kasin, Transit Administrator, City of Plymouth, said:
"Throughout the pandemic, Plymouth Metrolink has implemented a range of safety measures across the system to keep rider safety at the forefront.
"Metrolink safety measures include installing additional cabin air filtration (AirBubbl devices) in the driver section of all of our buses – healthy drivers means healthy passengers."
Rensair has had global interest in its air cleaning devices from businesses around the world that are looking to protect their employees and customers in response to COVID-19.
Aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2
A leading group of over 200 scientists wrote to the World Health Organization this summer to call for greater acknowledgement of the role of airborne spread of COVID-19 and the need for governments to implement control measures.
Members of the World Health Organization’s technical committee have said that ‘evidence is emerging’ around the airborne transmission of the virus and published an updated scientific brief on the topic in early July.
Coronaviruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 are spread via respiratory droplets produced by infected persons when they cough, sneeze, talk or breathe. While larger droplets quickly fall out of the air, smaller droplets persist as aerosols. Smaller aerosol particles are of concern because they may stay in the air for longer, travel further and be able to penetrate further into the respiratory tract when inhaled, according to a recent study by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
Rensair has published a white paper on reducing exposure to airborne viruses using air filtration systems. It sets out the evidence behind airborne virus transmission and how air filtration can effectively remove bioaerosol particles.