As dedicated professionals in the elevator cab and elevator industries, in over 27 years of service, we have seen many new ideas and systems be developed and put in to service. Some great, some not so great and some industry changing. With the current pandemic that just seems to get worse and worse every time we try to crawl back out from within our stay at home safe work stations. With the months of shutdown, quarantining and social distancing, America is at a point economically, socially, physically and mentally to either figure a way back to normal (or at least a defined "new normal"). The problem.....every time we see a state or city try...the infections begin to rise again. Our industry is trying to help (touchless controls, destination dispatching, social distancing criteria, etc) but, when it comes to the biggest issue in an elevator, we need to start planning more on the future of elevator systems.
The market today is ever increasing with an influx of systems to handle the surface and air sterilization / cleaning of elevator cab interiors. Be it the integral part of our systems that is occupied by "captive audiences" to the possible germ filled stagnant show of air within the enclosed elevator cab for their journey of where they need to go, the interior air quality and infectious control preventative measures are now more crucial than ever before. Bottom line, our industry will play an absolutely enormous role in whether this virus goes away and, how quickly America can bounce back from this horrible bookmark in history.
Elevators transport more people in a day than all other transportation industries combined. In addition, elevators is one of the only transportation vehicles that can not be avoided or substituted (with the exception of those that choose to hoof it up and down the stairs) when it comes to getting back to our normal, productive lives. The added danger is that all we have heard about the ways to help prevent spread in social distancing just goes right down the shaft as most elevators are constrained to not allow 6 feet of distance, no matter how we plan it. Riders reduced to a few standing in corners, facing the walls, will not help or reduce risk given one instance of someone who is infected releasing viral content in to the air. The elevator, as it stands now, has little or no ventilation or circulation which will just recirculate the content until it is either inhaled by other occupants, settles on a surface to be touched by other occupants or, eventually float out of the car and in to other occupied areas of the building to where the issue is given new life and risks to the public. Even in the case of a single rider, there is unacceptable risk, such as learned in a CDC trace study finding one woman's 60 second trip in an elevator infected over 70 people. The only way to effectively stop the spread is simple to deduce. The virus must be killed or inactivated.
At CEC, we took great time, effort, research, prototyping and development to design our system to address all issues however, as our product and system gains daily understanding of the use and effectiveness, we direct our attention here to the other ideas we are seeing proposed. Ideas that either will not sufficiently protect the public, clean the elevators or, introduce new risks as a means to mitigate this current risk. We direct our attention to educating all on whet we've learned, already contemplated and observed.
STAY OUT THE SHAFT!
For smell, cleanliness and safety, all us elevator guys surely know of the beautiful conditions in an elevator shaftway. The cleaners, dust, dirt, debris, lubricants, VOCs and (unless the shaft is the one out of a billion that is absolutely water proof and untouchable to water infiltration) mold and bacteria from moisture. As we know of these conditions, and the minor condition of smoke that can easily fill shaftways in cases of fire (either in building or from our equipment), then why in the world are we showing systems that take shaftway air and either filter it to force it in the cab or, add some type of disinfectant and the force it in to the cab? With the simple fact that forcing anything in to the cab, doesn't get anything out of the cab (including germs, bacteria and virus), added disinfectants are a "close your eyes and shoot" approach to hopefully effecting the contaminants; and whatever is either treated, weighted down or left untreated in the car...stays in the car; how can we offer this as a possible solution? Especially since the first instance of shaftway contamination (by smoke, chemical or other hazard to persons), will result in huge backlash of ignorance to safety, and legally responsible action of causing a hazardous condition to the public. As an industry, from the initial Elijah Otis conception of the safety, has been, and will continue to always be, the safety of the systems we provide and the public. To rush to help with the current public health crisis, we must stop a moment to ensure not to create or pose a public safety crisis as a response.
Let's take a second to think of something. If anything is set free, mobile in an airborne free floating form, that has an attracting electrical charge to it, would it not be attracted to other things electrically charged? Say for instance, electronic board inside the car station, control devices, light fixtures, etc? Negatively charged ions do have verified germicidal properties however, in an elevator (notwithstanding the electrical issues) the ions floating around are subject to the movement of air in the elevator when doors open, close, stack effect, etc. The effectiveness of ions to attract to, attach to and treat the contaminants would be greatly hindered as people move within the air and natural movements in the air occur, blowing the contaminants and ions around within the cab. Additionally, as some say that the air could possibly just leave the car when the doors open, so would all the car's germicidal ions. This would mean that any remaining, or newly introduced, contaminants would be free to float around as new ions are being created and released. Unfortunately most of the currently developed systems also use shaftway air as the source to add ions and force into the cab.
Another ion based system (typically referred to as plasmacluster) is another type of ion based system however, deemed more effective at germicidal properties than negative ion. In this process, negative and positive charged ions are created (H2-O+) which literally are released into the air, seek out contaminants and particles, surround them within the ion molecule and enact a photochemical oxidization process, releasing hydrogen from the contaminant molecular structure, inactivating micro-organisms. Very effective process however, a few issues again. Same issues as negative ion above but, now the added problem that the system is water based, which though molecular, will build up in time (like very fine humidity). This surely will be an issue to electrical contacts, devices and boards. And again, these systems are using shaftway air to force into the cab.
LET THERE BE LIGHT...OR NOT
As Sterilyft also utilizes UV-C light radiation as its germicidal treatment, we have done extensive research on both the germicidal effects of UV-C, and the dangers of exposure to humans. UV-C's effects are one of DNA/RNA damage to an organism (lesions called dimers are formed within the DNA/RNA of an organism causing inability to reproduce genetic code effectively inactivating the molecule) which is both swift (50 to 100 dimers per second) and effective (99.999% effective). This being said, the same effect on bacteria, virus or whatever we are looking to treat, is the same effect on human's skin and eyes. Even momentary exposure can cause cellular damage and in time develop into severe damage or cancer. With this, CEC dropped all possibility of utilizing a system that has exposure of UV-C to the interior of the cab and STRONGLY suggest nobody does. To all possible ways of assuring 100% that no person is inside the elevator when the UV-C is active, we found no fail safe, fool proof way of obtaining an absolutely "safe" detection system to all risks. Specifically, the risk of exposure to an unconscious or immobile person inside the car. In addition, this process, though extremely effective, only works to kill (or inactivate) germs when the system is on. This does nothing to continually treat or sterilize the elevator whenever not in use.
THE ONLY SOLUTION
Hope this helps in "clearing the air on elevator sterilization" as our slogan states. Please feel free to contact us to learn more, obtain further information or place an order for Sterilyft. The safest, and most effective system currently available, designed and built by elevator people with elevator personnel in mind and, fully manufactured in the US in the Bronx, New York City.