COVID-19: The Importance of Indoor Air Quality & How to Improve it
Updated: May 26
With the global spread of COVID-19, people are starting to question a lot about hygiene and how we interact with each other. However, one of the most vital factors to think about is Indoor Air Quality.
The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through the air we breathe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the virus can be spread "through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks." A recent study by The New England Journal of Medicine has stated that the virus aerosols could stay in the air for up to 3 hours
Ventilation and Hospitals
Proper ventilation in hospitals and other medical facilities is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of airborne disease and is a proven method of reducing infection while in hospital. The question is then if it's so key to reducing airborne diseases and infections in hospitals then why aren't making sure that the places we work and live are properly ventilated. As governments start releasing their back to work protocols, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of concern about ventilation but it should be considered as part of the plan as workers look set to return to offices soon.
Ventilation and Commercial Buildings
Ventilation systems in commercial buildings come in various shapes and sizes. However, in most buildings, the air comes into space via some sort of ventilation system. This air is a mix of recirculated air and fresh outdoor air.
For the most part, this air is coming in heated or cooled and combines both conditioning and ventilating the space. The majority of commercial building standards require a minimum amount of outdoor air to be coming into various spaces of the building.
However, when you look at the recent studies, surely we must look reconsider the importance of the air quality of the buildings that must be occupied. By measuring the air quality, circulating fresh air more often along with proper filtration.
Employee Wellness and Proper Ventilation
As bad as COVID19 is, it's even worse when a person's lungs aren't in the best condition. Ventilation and air quality is a major factor contributing to people's health. Which is why it's so important for commercial property managers and owners to think about the indoor air quality of their buildings. And as more workers will be deciding to work from home, the office will be even harder to convince employees to return to if there's no evidence of proper health and safety standards in place.
The Return of Sick Building Syndrome
A lot of the modern offices and workplaces today aren't being properly ventilated because they are being almost completely sealed shut.
As Robert Dennis of Modern Building Services points out:
"Commercial buildings are becoming increasingly hermetically sealed. Whilst this will improve energy efficiency by reducing heat loss, it will negatively affect indoor air quality unless adequate ventilation is addressed.
This can have some hugely detrimental effects on people's wellbeing including headaches, irritation to even more extreme cases like asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues. Resulting in unhappier and less productive workers.
3 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
1. Make sure everything is set up properly
Even though your ventilation system should be working fine, often systems can break and people can make mistakes, like closing a vent that's made to be opened or putting a piece of furniture in the way of it. It's important to make sure your ventilation system is running smoothly, making sure that all of the spaces are getting ventilated properly.
2. Increase the circulation of Fresh Air
As stated above, if hospitals believe that fresh air is so important then that means you should have more fresh air in your building too. Whether that means opening a window or by getting in a technician to change the amount of fresh air that gets circulated throughout the building.
3. Measure CO2 Levels in your building
CO2 is a key indicator of how good the ventilation in your building is. With our Indoor Air Quality Monitor, you can track the levels of CO2 throughout your building. All you have to do is place the device in your office and you can get notified when CO2 levels reach dangerous levels. Once you measure it, you can improve it.
Indoor Air Quality in the Future
There's no doubt that there's not going to be a quick and easy cure for COVID-19. It is only by doing the best practices like; handwashing, social distancing etc. that we can help flatten the curve for now. Indoor air quality is so important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 but it's also important for the future, for people's health and wellness, in a post-COVID-19 world.