Originally posted in the Houston Chronicle – McDonald’s franchisee in Baytown is rolling out virus-zapping ceiling units as a way to make people feel safer inside his eateries during a pandemic that’s battering restaurants.
Cost concerning to Matt Kades was his location on Garth Road, across the street from Houston Methodist Hospital, where first responders and hospital staffers dine frequently. His employees were getting sick, and he wanted to show them he was taking steps to protect them.
“I felt like this was something extra I could do in that area,” he said. “It just sort of blossomed from there.”
Kades said another owner-operator in Dallas tipped him off to ceiling-based air filtration devices created by UV Angel, a Michigan company. He has so far paid about $60,000 to deploy the tech in four of his eight Houston-area McDonald’s franchises, starting in November with the one near Houston Methodist.
Each ceiling unit sucks air into it, where a UV light kills pathogens in a sealed chamber before pushing air back out into the room, UV Angel said. The units are spaced every 100 to 200 square feet, depending on how busy an area is, and run constantly.
“This goes on every 0.7 seconds,” said Linda Lee, UV Angel’s chief medical affairs and science officer, formerly assistant vice president for campus operations at MD Anderson.
“This is like having almost like a little vacuum cleaner over your head or over your booth,” she said, noting warm breath readily rises, carrying it higher where fans can capture it.
Kades has between 13 and 16 units at each location and also purchased UV Angel’s self-cleaning tech for high-touch surfaces, costing him around $15,000 per franchise. UV Angel said that shakes out to $450 per unit.
Kades said it seemed worthwhile given how nervous staff and customers have been about being inside his dining rooms, especially the one with a hospital —arguably the symbol of the pandemic —visible across the street.
“When I saw on a newscast the reporter standing on my sidewalk, with the hospital, “ he said, “I said oh my goodness I gotta do something.
”UV Angel, which launched in 2014, originally designed its tech for hospital and pharmacy settings, Lee said. Now, the company is piloting it in new environments during the pandemic, as businesses look for new ways to protect their environments from pathogens.
“We’re part of that cadre of technologies people are looking at,” she said. “We’re right in the hurricane now with this pandemic and we’re going to be looking for ways we can harden the environment.
”There have yet to be clinical testing of devices like this and others claiming transmission reduction, and they don’t fully wipe out viruses in the air,as may be implied by the timing of their deployment.
In one recent test at a McDonald’s, Lee said her company’s tech reduced pathogens in the environment by 77 percent. There’s no guarantee someone won’t still get sick, she said, which is why she urges people to still wear masks, “By reducing the volume of pathogens you’ve potentially reduced the chances of someone getting sick,” she said.
Original Author – Houston Chronicle