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

May 25, 2021
Overhaul of improving indoor air quality 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.

In an interesting study last 2018, around 20% of office workers report that poor indoor air quality affects their performance at work. People would complain about dry eyes and skin, headaches and runny noses. Before COVID-19 becoming a pandemic, poor ventilation in buildings and homes is responsible for about 10 million lost workdays per year. The pandemic, therefore, has exacerbated our need for better, high-quality air cleaning.

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

  • Breathing in the air near an infected person who exhales small droplets and particles containing the virus.
  • These small droplets and particles containing the virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth. This also includes 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 indoor air quality. The evidence is clear with the many instances of leaks from our quarantine hotels across the country. Many of these leaks is suspected of having resulted from the airborne spread of the virus where the virus was released from opening doors, infecting nearby guests and staff.

    Improving air quality

    In addition to updating guidelines, experts also want clear messaging on how good air quality can be achieved and why it's so important. And in particular, improving ventilation of Australians' indoor spaces, such as at home and in the office.

    Examples include opening windows, changing filters regularly on both cooling and heating systems, using air purifiers and any other method to improve air quality. We know that appropriate ventilation helps reduce the spread of many airborne diseases, especially in indoor spaces.

    Let's expand on a few of the above here.

    • Opening windows is by far the most effective way to prevent harmful air pollutants from accumulating indoors as it brings fresh air directly from outside. However, security measures are essential to maintain the safety of your premises as well. Installing a window or door screen security also prevents mozzies and flies from entering.

    • Fans and ventilation systems can further aid in air circulation, as they can improve the movement of air in and out of the building.

    • Air purifiers consist of a filter or multiple filters working to draw in the air and trap pollutants, allergens, airborne virus particles and toxins. The filtered and clean air is then pushed out to circulate through the room.

    • A natural way to filter and clean the air around you is by decorating your home with houseplants like aloe vera, English ivy and Barberton daisy. Beeswax candles and essential oil diffusers can reduce airborne bacteria if you're not endowed with a green thumb.

    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.

    Apart from pathogens and viruses, an increase in carbon dioxide also increases the production of moulds. When this happens, not only will your wooden furniture and clothes suffer, inhaling mould can also cause allergic reactions.

    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. Here at Secure Your World, a simple solution is the ABUS AirSecure CO2 Detector. This device makes monitoring CO2 levels easier and little maintenance is required.