Tags: Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | indoor air | pandemic | covid-19 | world health organization

How to Make Indoor Air Safer During Pandemic

a baby boy is seen under a blue uv light
A nurse attends to an 8-day-old baby boy being treated under UV light in ICU isolation. The baby's mother is suffering with COVID-19 after birth. Studies have shown that UV light can kill microorganisms, such as viruses. (Ibrahim Mase/DHA via AP)

By    |   Thursday, 23 July 2020 02:29 PM

Experts confirm that the coronavirus can linger in the air for hours, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission by airborne particles. The World Health Organization issued a warning to medical personal to take “airborne precautions” after studies revealed that the coronavirus can survive in the air.

Recent scientific evidence reveals that these airborne droplets that contain the coronavirus can replicate themselves in lab conditions and are therefore highly contagious.

Dr. Erin Bromage, a comparative immunologist and professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said that while you can get the virus if an infected person coughs or sneezes nearby, you can also get sick if you are in an enclosed space for a long period of time where the virus has been released by someone just breathing into the air. In an article for Occupational Health & Safety, Bromage said a single sneeze can release 30,000 droplets.

In wide open spaces, the virus may be diluted and quickly dispersed, but in enclosed spaces the concentration can increase the risk of infection, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Here are some ways to make indoor air safer.

  • Open a window. Researchers at the University of Oregon and the University of California, published a report that said people should open windows rather than rely on air conditioning systems to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Use a high efficiency filter. According to FiveThirtyEight, filters can trap particles that contain the virus or use electrostatic attraction to zap them out of the air. By using specialized filters in your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, you can improve the safety of indoor air. However, to neutralize the indoor air transmission of coronavirus, you’d need a special filter with a high enough MERV, or minimum energy reporting value, to trap the tiny particles. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, your filter should have a MERV of 13 or higher.
  • Change the air. Experts say that changing to a more efficient filter may not eradicate the virus. Guidelines from Center for Disease Control and Prevention said to stop the spread of aerosols smaller than 5 microns, the typical size of viral droplets, buildings should change out their air six times per hour.
  • Ultraviolet light. Studies have shown that UV light can kill microorganisms, such as viruses, according to FiveThirtyEight. But experts said that killing virus means exposing it to the light for a period of time which may not be practical if the UV light is in a vent and the virus sails by.  Also, they warned about the possible risk of UV light causing skin or eye damage.

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The World Health Organization issued a warning to medical personal to take “airborne precautions” after studies revealed that the coronavirus can survive in the air.
indoor air, pandemic, covid-19, world health organization
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2020-29-23
Thursday, 23 July 2020 02:29 PM
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