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Overhaul of indoor air quality monitoring needed in light of Covid-19

May 25, 2021
Overhaul of indoor air quality monitoring needed in light of Covid-19

It’s been over a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic. A lot more is now known about how this virus spreads and mutates. All thanks to rigorous research from the scientific community. As a result, advice from WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the airborne transmission risk of Covid-19 has been updated.

According to the CDC site, According to the CDC site, Covid-19 spreads in three main ways:

  • Breathing in the air near an infected person who then exhales small droplets and particles containing the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles containing the virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth. This also includes via splashes and sprays such as a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

  • This has then led to calls for Australian officials to update national guidelines on air quality. The evidence is clear with the many instances of leaks from our quarantine hotels across the country. Many of these leaks are suspected to have resulted from the airborne spread of the virus. Where the virus was released from opening doors, infecting nearby guests and staff.

    In addition to updating guidelines, experts also want clear messaging surrounding air quality. In particular, towards helping Australians to improve the ventilation of their indoor spaces. Examples include opening windows, changing filters on both cooling and heating systems, use of air purifiers and any other method to improve air quality. We know that appropriate ventilation helps reduce the spread of many airborne diseases.

    What is carbon dioxide?

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring compound found in the Earth’s atmosphere. The amount of CO2 in an air sample is measured in parts per million or ppm, this is the number of CO2 molecules per million molecules of air.

    Outdoor CO2 levels are typically 380 to 500ppm. Indoor CO2 levels according to Building Biology Standard should be no higher than 700ppm on average across an eight hour day. Note that suggested indoor levels do vary between countries and even reputable agencies.

    Why measure CO2?

    CO2 levels are easier to measure in relation to any other airborne pollutants, simply because CO2 is produced every time a human exhales air. This means that humans can exhale other pathogens and viruses into the surrounding air at the same time. So having the means to measure CO2 levels provides a good indication of how well the air is circulating and ventilated out of the building or a particular space.

    Implement CO2 sensor

    To ensure that these strategies are working effectively, CO2 monitoring should be implemented. CO2 monitoring needs to be dependable, cost-efficient and easy to configure. Once connected, the monitor should trigger an alarm and notifications when CO2 levels go above a designated threshold.

    Knowing what benefits the monitor will bring to the health of all present, may not be enough. So to motivate consumers to buy these monitors, they must be simple to install and manage.