Although we still have much to learn about how COVID-19 is spread and the effect is has on humans, we can be sure in the knowledge that viruses such as corona are transmitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks – spreading droplets containing the bacteria.
These droplets land on surfaces, and if picked up by another human and transported into their mouth, nose or eyes, can then cause the infection to spread. Because these contaminated droplets can float in the atmosphere before continuing the chain of infection into the next person, part of the fight against our current pandemic can be addressed by implementing correct air purification methods.
Research has been undertaken that shows viruses such as coronavirus may be spread through air ventilation systems. Similarly, studies have shown that environments that operate high levels of outdoor ventilation have reduced risk of transmitting viruses like influenza, tuberculosis and SARS – which share many similarities with the coronavirus.
For buildings such as educational facilities or commercial spaces, the choice of air conditioning systems contributes hugely to the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants. The aim is to have clean air circulate regularly to disperse, or trap and neutralise virus particles in the atmosphere. The higher the concentration of people in the facility, the more chance there is for a bigger outbreak of a virus.
In the case of coronavirus, which is causing huge death and disruption worldwide, a focus on air purification is crucial because we know the virus is highly contagious.
With this in mind, it is clear that attacking the virus from all angles – including the use air purification – is what is needed for us all to return to some sort of normality.
We all have the right to breath clean air in buildings. Whether this is our own home, our place of work, or in shops or entertainment facilities. The British, European and international technical standards of clean indoor air quality have changed and evolved over time.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, standards were concerned with outdoor air traffic pollution from gas emissions, as well as indoor air quality which was focused on aspects like air humidity, correct ventilation, air circulation, filtration and air exchange rate.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) annually publish exposure limits of airborne particles and gases which are hazardous to humans. Gases such as NO2 are dangerous to inhale, and because these can be measured, environments can be tested to see if they are safe to occupy.
Correct ventilation of buildings is a standard requirement in the UK. Legally, outside air must be drawn into a building in order to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide inside – a waste product produced when we breath. The air that is drawn in needs to be cleansed of various particles and nitrogen dioxide, as well as being filtered to remove other harmful pollutants or pathogens.
An air pollutant can be classed as either a gas or a particle, and viruses can be considered a particle in this sense as they disperse in a similar fashion within our air supply. All of these contaminants need to be dealt with in order to provide occupants of a building with clean, fresh air.
Particles need to be filtered out using air filtration technology, namely fabric or fibres, and gases should be eliminated by using methods such as cooling and distilling. Viruses can be eliminated using UVGI technology within air conditioning units.
Currently, there are no clear new laws on the purification of air in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however research into this area is likely to be on-going.
It is possible we may begin to see changes in air purification laws due to the outbreak of COVID-19. It is clear we need to use every available option to fight this invisible killer and the buildings we inhabit need to have the technology to protect us from their devastating impact.
Air purification laws may change in order for designers to implement increased circulation, ventilation, outdoor air flow and control humidity levels – amongst other strategies. Making procedures such as air filtration and UVGI systems mandatory could be critical to futureproof our communities.
As it currently stands, in the UK we have laws surrounding temperature, the introduction of fresh air to buildings, and controlling the level of some pollutants. A potential addition to this list could be the introduction of a minimum indoor humidity level – as the virus lives longer in less humid climates.
Setting a minimum indoor humidity level is likely to help in the battle against COVID-19 and therefore reduce stress on our healthcare system and economy.
We may also see laws change which stipulate that all public and commercial buildings must regularly monitor and submit air quality readings in order to maximise safe working practises for the occupants inside.
The UK Government has focused its advice on social distancing, handwashing, working from home and avoiding public transport. These are all important ways to slow the spread of coronavirus transmission, however quality of air in public and commercial buildings is also crucial.
Key workers in hospitals and schools are negatively impacted by poor air quality, even if they are practising Government guidelines as mentioned above, their health may still be compromised. It is critical we assist in the protection of our key workers in public environments and air purification is a necessary point to address.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is impossible to say exactly which laws will change or if new laws will come into play regarding the air quality in buildings. What is safe to say, is that controlling air flow and increasing air purification is a reliable and necessary step towards bringing infection rates down and safe guarding public health.
Scientists all over the world are working tirelessly to develop the coronavirus vaccine. Until we find a cure, we must act now to prevent further spread and minimise casualties. Using air purification technology is just one of the ways we can do this.
If you would like to find out more about the variety of air purification technologies that can be used in your buildings, please contact us and we will be happy to help you. We have a range of air purification strategies that can be developed from scratch or work in addition to your existing systems that can all assist in the management of COVID-19.
You can get in touch with us by calling on 01202 554 200 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org