Indoor Air Quality – the Overlooked Answer for Mitigating COVID-19 in Buildings

Indoor Air Quality – the Overlooked Answer for Mitigating COVID-19 in Buildings

It’s common knowledge throughout the world that social distancing and masks can reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.

However, according to a growing number of scientists and other experts, a building’s indoor air quality is just as important as these more well-known measures in reducing transmission risk.

Studies have shown that tiny respiratory droplets of COVID-19 can remain suspended in the air rather than fall to the ground as larger droplets do. These “droplet nuclei” can remain in a room with stagnant air for hours or be spread throughout a sealed building with an HVAC system that only recirculates that same stale air.

Expert after expert have been extolling the virtues of fresh air ventilation and filtration in containing COVID-19 in enclosed commercial spaces.

In one prescient study from 2016 by the University of Hong Kong that’s now being touted, scientists found that making indoor air quality improvements may even be more important than other mitigation efforts because it can be achieved through automation rather depending upon human behavior:

Ventilation intervention decreases transmission probability by directing the flow of airborne infectious agents away from susceptible persons and/or by removing infectious agents from room air. Because it relies less on individual compliance, ventilation has an advantage over other non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., hand washing or mask use).

A recent article in Scientific American supports the study’s conclusion in the age of COVID-19:

Ventilation likely also plays an important role in how easily the virus can be transmitted through the air. Indoor spaces probably pose a higher risk than outdoor ones, especially if they are poorly ventilated... Crowded areas such as bars, restaurants and subway trains could all be risky—especially if people are asymptomatic and spend long periods of time in such areas. Precautions could include better ventilation, regular cleaning and mask wearing.

Joseph Allen, a professor of Exposure Assessment Science at Harvard’s School of Public Health, has been sounding the alarm that handwashing, face-touching avoidance, mask-wearing and social distancing may not be enough to contain airborne COVID-19 transmission in buildings:

It’s frustrating that neither the CDC nor the WHO has issued guidance on the potential for airborne transmission, because our whole field has been talking about this since February. There’s a strong likelihood it’s happening, and every new piece of evidence supports it, and so far nothing has refuted it.

As restaurants and stores begin to re-open to the public, customers are looking for reassurance that these establishments have taken every precaution to ensure they are returning to a safe environment. If you are the owner of a restaurant or store or manager of a small office, what should you do?

The good news is there are simple, cost-effective measures that can be taken to enhance indoor air quality and verifiably reduce the risk to customers and staff.

Even better news is that mCloud has compiled the best advice and information on this topic from experts in its free Guide to Re-opening your Business to the Public - 10 Step Readiness Checklist.

The 15-page guide takes readers through each step in evaluating a building’s indoor air quality with recommendations on how to enhance it, focusing on key areas such as ventilation and air flow, building pressurization, temperature, indoor relative humidity, filtration and HVAC maintenance.

The guide also offers recommendations to businesses on social distancing and building occupancy, as well as food safety measures for restaurants.

The guide concludes with advice on how to best reassure customers that your business is following all local health guidelines, including communications regarding the less visible measures you are taking, such as managing indoor air quality.

Click below to download the free guide now.

For additional studies and advice from experts on implementing indoor air quality measures, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

For more information on mCloud’s Back-to-Business solution to help customers and staff to safely return – and feel safe -- in your establishment, visit the program page, Reopening under COVID-19 health & safety guidelines.

Free 10 Step Readiness Checklist
Download our free Guide to Re-opening your Business to the Public - 10 Step Readiness Checklist to help evaluate if you are ready to open your doors to customers and get back to making money.
Download the Free 10 Step Readiness Checklist
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