Visitors at St. Simons Presbyterian Church have recently noticed a thing some would find disquieting. Sometimes a light haze comes from the air vents and settles over the sanctuary.
Although not always visible, the haze is actually a good thing as it makes gathering in this time of the coronavirus pandemic safer.
During services, the church’s Grignard Pure, an anitmicrobial air treatment system, is at work killing off more than 98 percent of the viruses in the air, including the one that causes COVID-19.
Grignard Pure was looking for indoor areas to install the system and chose St. Simons Presbyterian through a connection with a member, Thomas Hodge, the retired director of immunogenetics for the Centers for Disease Control. Hodge has since passed away but before he did, he endorsed the product on Grignard Pure’s website, calling it a “game changer.”
The system, Hodge said, “can really slow the spread not only of (the COVID-19) virus, but other viruses that are respiratorially driven.”
Hodge cautioned that he believes the world will be looking at such viruses a long time.
St. Simons Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. Alan Dyer, is also on the website saying the church was looking for an added layer of safety. He told The News that the church still requires masks for its indoor services.
Until his death, Hodge was one of the church’s “go to people” for about 18 months as it looked for ways to deal with the pandemic, Dyer said.
Hodge and Grignard Pure made contact.
“They were looking for a space, a church space in particular, where they could apply this technology,’’ he said.
“We just stumbled into it. It came to us. We decided to try it,’’ he said.
Grignard Pure founder and CEO Etienne Grignard said on his company’s website that people have a right to gather in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.
The EPA adopted standards and determined the safety and efficacy of the system, Grignard said.
“It took courage to do what the EPA has done,’’ he said.
Dyer said the EPA approval was one of the factors in installing Grignard Pure. Chattanooga has it on city buses, and it is in use in arenas and theaters, he said.
Grignard said that Georgia and Tennessee are the only states that received EPA approval to use the system.
It works at St. Simons Presbyterian because the heating, ventilation and air conditioning vents run the length of both sides of the sanctuary’s ceiling. The return air vents are at the front of the church.
Dispersion units are connected to the system to add the vaporized antimicrobial agents into the system. Sensors control the level of the dispersion and control the output of the dispersion units.
The vapor can be very noticeable when it is first started but becomes less so over time, although there is always a light haze, Dyer said.
After the system was installed, it appeared it may not be needed.
“COVID dropped off. It wasn’t used, then it came back,’’ Dyer said of the second surge from the more infectious Delta variant.
Dyer said the church still requires masks, but Grignard Pure “gives worshipers added peace of mind.”
Although it may not be needed every Sunday if COVID-19 subsides as predicted, there is the possibility the Grignard Pure system could be used for other illnesses, especially during flu season, he said.