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The pandemic we are facing has dramatically raised the bar for indoor air quality and comfort. During these weeks, several businesses are in fact re-organizing their plans to reopen. Each business is faced with two primary objectives:

  • minimize the possible propagation of the new Coronarvirus
  • managing and organizing space occupancy with respect to the impact we are experiencing from COVID-19

In this post we are going to analyze what activities we need to carry out in our buildings in order to decrease the risk of contagion of the virus.

First, however, it is necessary to do a very brief review:

What is the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The new coronavirus first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 quickly spread to the rest of the world, creating a pandemic and a global health emergency. And named SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 infection comes from a group of viruses known as coronaviruses, so named for their crown-shaped protrusions.

New variants of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus are spreading rapidly, in Europe as well as around the world. The “English variant” (technical name B.1.1.7), which according to the latest scientific studies could be between 30% and 50% more contagious than the previous ones. But other variants, in particular the Brazilian and South African variants, are also of concern.

How is it transmitted?

It has been repeatedly confirmed by science that the new coronavirus travels via very small “droplets” that are able to remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. The virus spreads through these droplets expelled by infected individuals when they breathe, talk or cough. With airborne transmission, the virus stays in the air longer and has the potential to infect more people in that environment.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vc_single_image image=”4007″][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text color=”#768290″ font_size=”18″]

What are the activities to do in our buildings to reduce the risk of infection:

What are the activities to be performed to counteract COVID-19? We have taken as a reference some techniques that are used in the field of building certification, in particular in the WELL Building Standard, to prevent the spread of the virus. We list a few of them:

  • Manage and improve indoor air quality
  • Perform water quality monitoring and management
  • Support comfort, including working from home
  • Promote and build organizational resilience
  • Promote mental resilience

All of these strategies are tied to the WELL Building Standard, an innovative, voluntary tool for rating and certifying buildings with respect to people’s comfort, health, and well-being. Even without initiating a certification process for your building, implementing the above activities can certainly protect occupants from COVID-19.

Can air quality management reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection?

By now, several global and national agencies (e.g. WHO, EPA, ISS) tell us that if proper air quality management is performed within the building, occupants will be less likely to contract COVID-19.

Air quality and well-being are closely related. Optimal air quality is not only necessary for our bodies, but also for our cognitive abilities such as concentration and memory.

When our bodies are exposed to poor air quality for long periods of time, we can become more susceptible to several diseases, including COVID-19.

If we improve our indoor air quality, we reduce our own exposure to harmful pollutants and reduce the damage they can cause.

So what are the strategies to implement?

Optimizing indoor air quality has now become a priority for all businesses, below are some activities to do as you prepare to reopen your work environments:

Maximize ventilation

In most modern buildings we often find limited air ventilation, either because of systems that have not been “retrofitted” or because the goal until yesterday was focused solely on energy savings. An analysis should therefore be carried out to check the efficiency of the systems dedicated to air treatment in order to verify whether they carry out the correct air changes. A viable option maybe, where possible, to carry out manual ventilation by opening windows.

Maintain the correct % relative humidity

Ventilation control is not the only factor to consider. Humidity plays a major role in the transmission of COVID-19, as it has been repeatedly saying and written that viruses can travel more easily in dry or moist air. For optimal protection, it is recommended that a humidity level of 40% to 60% be maintained inside the building.

Implement indoor air quality monitoring

During the reopening process, indoor air quality monitoring can help you better cope by monitoring ventilation rates, relative humidity levels, and air filtration efficiency.

Readings of carbon dioxide levels can tell you whether or not the outdoor air supply is suitable for the building’s occupants. Poor ventilation, in combination with high occupancy rates, can cause general discomfort within the building.

Finally, readings regarding VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and particulate matter (PM) can help you understand are there additional critical issues to address within your building.

Optimize air filtration

Most buildings already use an outdoor air filtration system with recirculated air. Some coronavirus particles become inactivated over time, but the remainder can be managed through a purifier that uses UV light, thus taking advantage of germicidal irradiation. This technique will ensure that no viral particles trapped in the filters can re-enter the air. A purifier, which uses this UV technology, will have the added benefit of killing microbes, mold, and bacteria as well.

 

Want to know more? Write us on info@aircare.it

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