What makes an air purifier most suitable for vets and pets businesses?

There are more pets than people in Australia. The total has risen from 29 million just a few years back, according to the RSPCA, to the point where today the country has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world.

Dogs are the most common (40-50 per cent and rising, depending on whose figures you listen to), followed by cats (27% and rising too) with fish, birds, small mammals, reptiles and other pets filling out the minor placings.

According to surveys by Animal Medicines Australia, nearly 70 percent of all Aussie households own a pet, with ever more people getting a pooch or moggy during these Covid times, maybe for company for isolated older people, for younger people working from home, or families who have rediscovered the fun of a pet while housebound to avoid Covid risks.

And it will come as no surprise to the veterinary and pet industry that this rising and seemingly irresistible trend towards greater pet ownership has placed enormous pressure on business owners and staff. Veterinarians, in particular, were already in short supply before the pandemic began. Plus, because of the highly infectious nature of Covid – most recently the Omicron variant – veterinary and pet care professionals are experiencing critical staff shortages across their teams. This increased pressure on more work on fewer people affects both physical and mental health, which does have legal ramifications in terms of workplace safety.

An optimum air purifier may combine safe and effective earth mineral technology, HEPA filtration, and, importantly ultraviolet germicidal irradiation through UVC bulbs.

One way veterinary and pet service providers can protect people against airborne virus and allergens in their facility – and provide a more attractive, cleaner smelling and healthier workplace and visitor facilities – is by the use of medical-grade air cleaners.

These are the types of purifiers that that dentists and other medical professionals often use to protect not only themselves, and their valuable staff, but also their patients and visitors to their facilities of all ages (including children and people over 70, who are up to six times more likely to catch virus’ such as Covid, for example).

So you need to know what you are buying, before you lay out the cash, because all air cleaners are not equal in their effectiveness against airborne viruses – and certainly not equal when they encounter the unique allergens, odours and ailments in vet and pet facilities. Cheap is not cheap when it is useless in your specialised environments.

But there are some guidelines that can help you decide if the system you are considering is right for a professional business dealing with many animals, and many different types of animals – or whether a bargain-priced air purifier is cheaper because it is better suited to domestic use in small areas.

Units such as EnviroKlenz® Air System Plus, left, are used in medical facilities, workplaces, and hospitality applications. They incorporate pre-stages (right) of mineral earth technologies so effective they are used by the US military to destroy chemical warfare agents.

A combination of protections

There is no one single factor that makes one air purifier better than another. Many of them have perfectly good HEPA filters, for example, but little else. Rather, it is a combination of stages of protection that provide the optimum outcome.

  1. The most important thing to ensure is that the purification unit being considered contains both a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing) filter and a UVC light irradiation As vets and care professionals understand, UVC is a radiation method that makes use of a specific wavelength of ultraviolet light to neutralise micro-organisms. UVC light is germicidal, which means it deactivates the DNA of micro-organisms like bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, disrupting their ability to multiply and cause disease. Combining a HEPA filter and UVC light means 99.9% of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), pathogens, odours, and other airborne contaminants, including pet dander, odour and hair are removed.
  2. Does the filter contain a replaceable mineral earth pre-stage to capture and destroy a wide range of harmful airborne pollutants for good? Our approach, for example, is to use the EnviroKlenz® patented earth mineral technology which has been third-party tested and validated to capture and destroy airborne toxic and noxious gases, particulates, allergens, bacteria, viruses, and other allergy triggers. It is effective against smoke too, and pollen allergens, which are an all-too-common occurrence in rural or suburban bushland environment. In fact, the technology is so potent that the U.S. military uses it to destroy chemical warfare agents and it is employed to neutralise toxic industrial chemicals.
  3. Is the filter type effective on dander? Potential users need to ask if its effective on those tiny flakes of skin in an animal's fur, hair, or feathers which can carry other allergens like dust mites, mould, and pollen. Pet dander contains these skin flakes and traces of urine and saliva, which can all trigger allergic reactions. Most pet dander is of the size 5-8 microns. To filter this out, the air purifier must be capable of removing particles smaller than 5 microns at least. You should therefore be looking for air purifiers that have a HEPA filter, which typically remove particles to 0.3 microns in size. We eliminate sub-micron particles of up to .3 microns, but not all air purifiers are equally capable of handling pet dander, hair or odour. But when those proteins get into your airways, eyes, nose, mouth, or on your skin, it triggers allergy symptoms. And allergies – including those occurring outside veterinary and pet care facilities – affect about one in six people in Australia. So it is an important issue.
  4. Does the air purifier remove odour, as well as harmful virus’ and allergens? Even the cleanest pets can sometimes smell – and this issue multiplies when they are concentrated in a facility. This is sometimes a turnoff for customers unaccustomed to the familiar fragrances of country life. The smells are definitely not held in high regard by city dwellers selecting a vet, so it could well reward a business to seek an air purifier that can demonstrate the dual function of not only removing hair and dander, but also pervasive odour at the same time.
  5. Check the claims being made. It is easy to make a claim to sell a product, but sometimes harder to back it up with science. We don’t shy away from proof; in fact, we encourage the questions because our US-patented medical grade system has been third-party Intertek laboratory tested to demonstrate its removal of 99.9% of airborne viruses down to 0.025 microns. While the laboratory testing is for a broad spectrum of viruses, rather than specific types, the size of virus’ against which it is effective are multiple times smaller than the Covid-19 coronavirus, for example.
  6. A final question to consider is whether the air purifier is quietly effective over commercial areas, or so noisy that it upsets both the animals and their carers. These two simple factors can be critical to providing a clean and welcoming workplace. Some lesser air purifiers are just not really up to the job for much larger than a single room in a house or flat. We have designed a self-contained, wheeled unit, producing around 55 to 60 decibels, depending on the model. It cleans 93 sq m (1,000 sq ft) to 99.9% disinfection in under 18 minutes. When used in conjunction with a HVAC system, the EnviroKlenz Air System Plus, for example, turns over the air around 17 times an hour, which is equivalent to once every 3 minutes and 52 seconds.

Many purifier manufacturers have many different approaches. The purpose of this article is not to lessen anyone else’s technology.

But our approach, based on proven global experience, is to uniquely pair our innovative mineral earth air cartridge with industry-standard HEPA filtration and UVC, for premium purification of contaminants big and small.

This unique approach to air purification effectively eliminates contaminants, odours and risks from indoor environments, leaving nothing but fresh, crisp air.