In the past, we never really considered how clean the air in our homes or offices was. It was just air. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, air purification has become far more critical. Thankfully, many indoor areas are equipped with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration units. These particle filters helped prevent millions of Americans from getting COVID.
HEPA unit filters are great at removing particles in the air, such as dust, pollen, bacteria, mold, and more. The CDC says they catch at least 99.97% of airborne particles. But, unfortunately, HEPA air filtration only removes particles. Yes, filters will trap viruses and pathogens attached to those particles. However, viruses on surfaces and in the air remain a threat.
It also takes time to clean the air because it relies on air moving through space and to the unit. So, when someone sneezes, all those new particles are still in the air until they reach the filter. In the meantime, everyone is exposed to whatever germs might be hitching a ride on them.
So how can we maximize the safety of the air that we breathe? We can start by using two purifications instead of one: HEPA Air filtration and PCO technology, such as Puraclenz.

What is PCO Technology, and What Does it Provide that HEPA Air Filtration doesn’t?

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An ion’s mission? Seek and destroy pathogens!

PCO stands for photocatalytic oxidation, a process that uses UV lights to create charged ions that can neutralize pathogens. NASA developed this technology to provide clean air for astronauts in the International Space Station. Astronauts need to work in the most sterile environment possible. Yet even with astronauts quarantining before launches, they still bring some pollutants with them.
The PCO process uses UV light and reflective blades to produce a higher density of ions. It’s just like how the sun naturally purifies the air outside. But instead of just trapping particles with HEPA air filtration, PCO technology releases ions that attack pollutants directly, breaking down their cell walls and neutralizing the pathogen altogether. The way this technology works is quite impressive.
But how effective is a PCO unit? The results are highly effective for air purification, as an independent study by Aerosol Research and Engineering Laboratories on the reduction of pathogens similar to COVID-19 found. Using a Puraclenz P3000, Aerosol measured a 99.4% reduction of airborne pathogens, all within 7 hours. However, what is more significant is how PCO units reduce surface pathogens.
While a HEPA air filtration unit may adequately clean the air, it can’t clean surfaces. On the other hand, a PCO unit, such as our P3000, reduced the surface presence of SARS-COV-2 by 58% despite being challenged with six complete outdoor air changes during the one-hour length of the study. So, while PCOs may not reduce the risk of catching the virus, it does reduce the number of pathogens in the air and exposed surfaces.

Bad Air Quality is Really Getting (M)old

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Mold can grow anywhere, remember.

If we only needed to worry about COVID-19, that would be a relief, but we still have other nasty pathogens polluting our air and surfaces. According to WebMD, every year, “between 3% and 11% of people in the U.S.” get Influenza A and B (descendants of our last major pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918). Of course, we could also go on all day about the 200+ viruses that cause the common cold. But they all share one trait: they live in the air and on surfaces.
Yet one pollutant we tend to ignore (until we have to pay thousands of dollars to remove it) is mold. Fungi are responsible for 93% of chronic sinus infections. And mold tends to grow more rapidly in places where people spend more time. So, schools, offices, hospitals, and senior living facilities are at greater risk of exposure.
PCO technology reduced the mold spore Aspergillus brasiliensis by over 95% in a controlled environment. But the PCO device used, the P3000, was even more effective on surfaces, reducing Candida albicans mold by 99.75%. And, just as it can’t with viruses, HEPA Air filtration doesn’t work on surfaces.

The Bigger the Building, the More We Need PCO Technology and HEPA Air Filtration

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Precious little germ factory.

Air purification is essential for any building, but the bigger the space, the more challenging and expensive it is to purify. It’s also even more critical the area has clean air. Take schools, for instance. Children are notorious for picking up and spreading bacteria around. Vanessa LoBue, Rutger’s Child Study Center’s director, calls kids “little germ factories.”
Though children get sick more often than adults, they recover much faster. So what makes them “germ factories?” Kids “may shed greater numbers of infectious viral particles into the environment than do adults.” And where do they get these germs? School, mostly.
In another controlled study using PCO technology, Aerosol Laboratories determined that the P3000 reduced dangerous airborne bacteria Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus by 99.7%. Furthermore, the P3000 unit reduced the surface presence of MRSE by 95%. Both Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus and MRSE are recognized proxies for MRSA, Strep Pneumonia, and Strep Pyogenes, which cause deadly infections. Placing PCO technology within large areas such as gyms, cafeterias, and hallways will help lessen the spread of all those germs.
And yes, kids will always find a way to increase germ factory production (how many times do parents have to tell kids, “don’t put that in your mouth!”), but adults benefit just as much, if not more so. As LoBue pointed out, kids bounce back quickly, but we adults get hit hard.
Yet schools, senior living communities, hotels, and other large, at-risk facilities have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of smaller rooms. So how can we keep people safe from bacteria and pathogens throughout the entire building?

HEPA + PCO = A Far Cleaner Indoor Environment

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Nothing can purely clean a kid’s soccer shoes, but PCO Technology will certainly try.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed how we think about the air we breathe. For nearly two years, we had to wear masks in public settings, and that was after a long initial lockdown. We also had to take better care of surface areas – remember when we were wiping down bags of chips with Lysol? PCO technology tackles both air and surfaces. But there’s no reason to overhaul your entire HVAC system.
While it’s impossible to eradicate pathogens altogether, PCO technology and HEPA air filtration units can significantly reduce the risks of exposure, even when they work separately. Together, the effects are even more substantial.
In large facilities, using PCO technology effectively cleans the air, but the fact that it also works on surfaces is vital. Most people will pick up pathogens in these areas. They then carry them to other parts of the building, such as classrooms, daycares, senior living facilities, etc. PCO Technology reduces potential contamination at the first point of contact.

The Future of PCO Technology and HEPA Air Filtration

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The future is (almost entirely) pure!

If both methods are so helpful, why hasn’t anyone made units that provide both? The answer is that they do – but the cost is astronomical, generally starting at $1,000 for a smaller unit. For people trying to make their homes safer from airborne or surface pathogens, that’s a hefty price tag.
But the good news is that we are in the early days of this technology. Puraclez is already working on devices that combine their PCO technology with HEPA Air Filtration, but at a reasonable cost, so that more people can breathe easier.
What we’re really talking about when it comes to the future of this technology is the future of our health. As much as we want it to happen, the flu, common cold, and COVID aren’t going away. Nor will people stop making more little germ factories. However, reducing surface and air pollutants more effectively can help prevent countless people from getting sick. So, while ensuring your HEPA filters are routinely changed, adding a small PCO device makes any indoor environment safer.