LIMA — Lima businesses are turning to a new strategy to quell fears about the intensifying coronavirus epidemic: hydroxyl generators.
The machines, which look like portable space heaters with ultraviolet light, claim to remove pollutants from the air by turning water vapor into hydrogen peroxide, according to Londell Smith, whose cleaning services company recently sold the generators to Allen County government as well as several churches, nursing homes and businesses in Lima.
Those hydrogen peroxide molecules then sanitize the air, attacking viruses like the cold, flu and others, Smith said.
The 318 Restaurant & Bar is the latest to try out the hydroxyl generators, as customers become increasingly wary to dine out.
“That’s why we did this,” said Ray Magnus, the restaurant’s owner, “so people are aware of what we’re doing to keep them safe, so they’ll come visit our businesses.”
The need for workplaces to increase ventilation is becoming more urgent now that evidence suggests the novel coronavirus is airborne, spreading from person to person via tiny respiratory droplets and aerosols that linger and travel through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs or breathes — making crowded indoor places more dangerous when ventilation is poor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that workplaces increase air filtration and air flow indoors, relying on natural ventilation by propping doors and opening windows to help dissipate airborne coronavirus. The agency also suggests using portable high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems in higher-risk areas, among other ventilation strategies designed to prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases.
But it’s less clear how effective hydroxyl generators are at eliminating airborne coronavirus.
Still, Smith said the portable machines are only intended as an extra layer of protection — not a cure.
“You want to ensure consumer confidence,” he said. “We want the public to know that we don’t want small businesses to close, because they are the backbone of our economy. They’re the backbone of our community. But people have to feel safe about being able to go out.”