With the increased emphasis on training and the benefits it can bring to the modern-day athlete, it is no wonder that the athlete is spending more and more time in training facilities seeking to maximize his or her potential.
However, there is danger lurking in such facilities as many teams, associations and colleges, which have been on the receiving end of a lawsuit, can affirm. The risk of contagions, some of them deadly, is real. This places the onus the owners of such facilities to protect their athletes.
Given the growing importance of this issue, we reached out Tony Abate, Vice President & Chief Technical Officer at AtmosAir Solutions (https://atmosair.com) in Fairfield, CT. for some insights. What follows is an interview with Abate, a certified indoor environmentalist as designated by the Indoor Air Quality Association and the American Air Quality Council.
Question: How do you categorize the risks in the modern-day locker room? Airborne? Surface?
Answer: The risk of contracting illness or infection can be equally as pervasive in air as on surfaces. Often times pathogens can be delivered through the air and come to rest on a surface where the illness can be spread and infect. Strategies to provide a healthier locker room need to include addressing continuous disinfection of both air and surface.
Q: Were these same risks present decades ago, and the problems weren’t publicized?
A: The risks were always present, however modern building techniques aimed towards tighter more energy efficient spaces have resulted in contaminants concentrating in space, worsening the problem, unless measures are taken to address indoor air quality. Also, the heightened awareness of the impact of indoor air quality to health has led to more publicity of these issues.
Q: What are the keys to preventing airborne issues?
A: There are three important factors to improving indoor air quality are 1) Source Control, minimizing the sources of contaminants, 2) Ventilation, correctly designed air systems to allow for optimal air cleaning and 3) Air Cleaning, using technology such as bi-polar air ionization to remove airborne contaminants that can make air unclean and unhealthy.
Q: What are the keys to preventing MRSA?
A: MRSA can be spread three ways, 1) Person to Person through direct contact, so if an infection is suspected have that person come in contact with as few people as possible. 2) Person to Surface, to minimize this, disinfection of surfaces is key. 3) Airborne Transmission, though not as prevalent as surface spread, many studies have shown MRSA can be spread through the air and infect so air cleaning and continuous disinfection are key to minimize MRSA.
Q: What does you company do?
A: AtmosAir develops, manufactures and provides air purification solutions using our patented bi-polar ion technology. These comprehensive systems provide cleaner and healthier indoor air. We also provide air quality monitoring so the user can track and monitor their indoor air quality in real time. These capabilities can also enable buildings to save significant energy by re-circulating clean and conditioned air.
Q: How much of your business is preventative vs. reactive? And how is that changing?
A: When we started 15 years ago, much of the business was reactive, addressing an air quality problem. That has shifted dramatically to where the majority of our business is preventive. Owners, Architects, Designers and Engineers are specifying our technology to design a healthier and cleaner space in light of the increased awareness of the impact of indoor air quality on health, and also to help to address sustainability goals for greener, healthier spaces.
Q: What are your areas of expansion the rest of this year and in 2020?
A: One area we see lots of opportunity are large spectator arenas. These facilities are being challenged more than ever to address sustainability and also to provide an enhanced spectator experience. Our technology can reduce HVAC energy use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving sustainability as we’ve done in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, TD Garden in Boston and Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, renamed Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
We have also worked with the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves in baseball and the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys in pro football. We’re also providing clean indoor air in athletic facilities at USC, UCLA and Arizona State to name a few.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: The improvement to air quality and air monitoring will also enhance the spectator experience and the facility can market the cleaner and healthier experience.