By John White

By now we all know that when humans breathe, speak or sing, we exhale a plume of very tiny aerosol particles.

That means if you are infected with a dangerous bacterium or a virus, you are exhaling tiny aerosol droplets all over the area and they are floating everywhere the air takes it. This is no big deal if you are outside where there is plenty of moving air and you are maintaining a safe distance.

However, it’s a whole different case the moment you enter a room or building or confined space.

Go into a building; you are now in a space where the air movement is controlled by a ventilation system. We cannot control where our tiny aerosol particles float. The ventilation system’s job is to move this air around. That is what has happened at some retirement homes and other places that suddenly reported mass infections. The ventilation system acts like a vacuum cleaner, but the air it is sucking is blowing back at everyone in the room, complete with everyone’s tiny droplets that could infect you.

Once we realize that we are all releasing these tiny droplets of floating particles every time we breathe or speak, we suddenly can visualize all the wrong places these tiny droplets travel. Being inside a room that has a ventilation system that recirculates the air would be a bad place to be. Walking around in any confined space is risky at best, and you better just keep your mask on. Going to a restaurant inside a confined space where you are going to take your mask off to eat is not a wise move either.

So, are we stuck eating outside forever? Even outside we might inhale someone’s spit if we are sitting too close and talking up a storm, no pun intended. We need to control the air we breathe, and we need to kill deadly floating bacteria and viruses that we may be exhaling or inhaling. That takes smart technology, and this is what has been installed at Marlaina’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Burien.

It’s called low dose upper-room UVC light, and can be seen in the ceiling below emitting a safe, blue glow:

How does it work?
Rather than clearing the room and bombarding the air with high dose UVC light, which could cause a bad sunburn to humans, a much safer method is employed. Thanks to Burien’s Dr. Bruce Davidson, MD MPH, (MPH stands for Masters Public Health) Marlaina’s has installed what is called “low dose upper room UVC light technology.”

This type of UV light is harmless to humans and is hidden above the ceiling tiles. You cannot see it but the moment bacteria or viruses like coronavirus are exposed to it they are destroyed in seconds. The system uses ceiling fans to direct air up – including tiny aerosol particles – into a space above the tiles where the UVC light is waiting. The amount of light is more than enough to kill the deadly SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus but is totally harmless to humans because it’s above the tiles in what is termed “the killing zone.” The UV light destroys the RNA cells inside the virus.

The sad thing is this technology is not new, even though it is used around the world in spaces where it is absolutely necessary for people to gather in enclosed areas where drug-resistant TB is a risk. Until now, using this technology in restaurants was just a dream of Dr. Davidson’s.

He first used the technology in the early 1990’s in a new TB clinic, but it’s taken a pandemic like COVID-19 to spark an interest in what is surely a lifesaving way to make a confined space much safer. The technology should be in every indoor public space where human aerosols are exhaled and can travel.

Burien is full of inventive people, and Dr. Bruce Davidson is one of them. Burien could be the world’s first city with a real answer on how to dine out safely without worry of breathing a deadly virus like SARS-CoV-2. One thing is for sure, Marlaina’s is as safe as it gets, and we need to thank the owners of Marlaina’s for doing their part to combat the threat to our restaurants.

Marlaina’s Mediterranean Kitchen is located at 643 SW 152nd Street:



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