Clear acrylic, PMMA and other plastic panels put in place to separate desks, workstations, lunch rooms and retail counters have certainly been in high demand since the start of the pandemic.
But do they actually help to fight the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases? A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher says there's no proof that they do.
"We spent a lot of time and money focused on hygiene theater," Joseph Allen, an indoor-air researcher, told Bloomberg. "The danger is that we didn't deploy the resources to address the real threat, which was airborne transmission — both real dollars but also time and attention."
Instead, masks and improved air filtration systems did much of the work needed to keep people safe before vaccinations were widely available. You can read Bloomberg's story at our sister paper Crain's New York Business.
Trinseo of Berwyn, Pa., just completed its acquisition of Colombes, France-based Arkema SA's business — which includes the Plexiglas brand in the Americas — and has said it will invest in products and technologies in its manufacturing and research and development operations.
But even at the time the acquisition was announced, the companies noted that any growth in Plexiglas sales linked to the pandemic was offset by a drop in auto production. That means that even if companies back off on installing sheets based on the Harvard study, there are still plenty of other sales opportunities.