Ten million square feet — that was the surface area decontaminated at the Sultan Ismail Specialist Hospital.
That included floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, vents and numerous other unseen surfaces in the building.
The decontamination work was executed over four months,starting in April.
It began with killing the fungi that had infested the building followed by treatments to prevent new infestation.
The fungi originated from gardens and earthworks in the vicinity of the hospital and were aided by the hot, humid conditions inside the building.
“This was followed by further assessments and measurements of microbial presence,” said Kailash Sheth, executive director of Germguard Technologies Sdn Bhd, the company assigned to decontaminate the hospital last year.
“We continue to monitor and measure the air quality and microbial presence with various tests.”
Germguard Technologies specialises in the relatively new field known as building diagnostics and remediation. It addresses the biological contamination of indoor spaces and other issues that contribute to “sick building syndrome.”
For the Sultan Ismail Hospiotal, the company used the Aegis Microbe Shield which is a clear polymer layer applied to building surfaces such as walls that contained biocide.
The shield holds up the biocide for long period and allows no leaching. The shield attracts microbes and ruptures cell membranes.
This causes a physical death of the microbes, giving it no chance to evolve or resist.
The treatment carries a two-year warranty. Ten staffers will remain on site at the hospital until the end of the warranty period, making observations and assisting the building technicians.
The sole intention of improving indoor air quality was to reduce infections or even deaths, said Satish Bakhda, principal consultant of Aegis Asia Pte Ltd., the indoor environmental specialist firm based in Singapore.
“Lower productivity and increased mild illnesses such as flu and colds are now well-studied phenomenon in sick buildings,” said Satish.
“In some countries, workers are reporting serious ailments such, especially asthma.
“Building owners who have addressed the microbial infestation are reporting improvement in their workers’ health.”
Indoor air quality has spurned a billion-dollar business in air filters, ozone machines, UV light busters and various mechanical filters that claim to clean the air.
“Not all work, some are actually harmful,” Satish said.
Buildings can be vectors of disease, according to Curtis White, a co-inventor of the Aegis Microbe Shield.
“We don’t usually think of structures that way. These are not just casual patterns of infections.
“In a buildings’s life, its use and occupation needs to be reviewed every five years or so.”