The University of Oklahoma, pending approval by the OU Board of Regents, will install 2,300 antimicrobial devices in the residence hall towers on the Norman campus as part of a comprehensive effort to provide students the cleanest possible campus living environment.
If approved, every room in Adams, Couch and Walker Centers will be equipped with a wall-mounted Synexis® Sphere device, which continuously produces Dry Hydrogen Peroxide (DHP™) to reduce viruses, bacteria and fungi in occupied spaces. Installation would begin in August.
“As we prepare for our return to in-person operations, the health and well-being of our community is our top priority,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Adding the state-of-the-art Synexis Sphere devices to each of the rooms in our residence hall towers, along with our Clean and Green initiative to enhance cleaning protocols university-wide, are two of the ways we are diligently preparing for our return to the in-person OU experience.”
The Synexis Sphere works by converting humidity and oxygen naturally present in the air into DHP, which can flow to the most out-of-reach areas of a space and attach to microorganisms to naturally break them down. DHP has the added benefit of reducing odor and repelling insects.
Last fall, University Operations began researching and testing solutions to enhance air quality in the housing towers. HVAC system modifications, various air purifiers, UV systems and other products were considered, with Synexis units ultimately being selected.
The university completed its testing of the Synexis technology in February. A 30-day test in a typical dorm room showed a 78.6% reduction in surface contaminants, and air sampling showed a reduction in colony-forming units from 500 to zero.
Evan Floyd, assistant professor of occupational and environmental health in the Hudson College of Public Health at OU, whose research interests include exposure assessment techniques, noted the effectiveness of dry hydrogen peroxide.
“Low level dry hydrogen peroxide has been shown to reduce the environmental burden of bacteria, viruses and fungi of occupied rooms, which should help to reduce environmental transmission of disease,” Floyd said. “This step to protect our students represents the university’s commitment to the safety and health of students living on campus.”
As the remaining residence halls on the Norman campus have different HVAC systems and a lower population density than the towers, they will not have Synexis technology installed. Hospital grade filters will be installed in the Residential Colleges and in David L. Boren Hall. The apartments at Kraettli and Traditions each have their own separate HVAC unit, and ventilation is not shared with an entire building.