Close to a year since more than 200 scientists shared their concerns over COVID-19 transmission via airborne particles, experts are calling for greater monitoring and controls in air quality control to improve safety for the greater public.
In essence, the definition of COVID-19 as an airborne pathogen means that social distancing is unlikely to be effective as a control strategy when the virus particles are suspended in the air.
Governmental responses to COVID-19 have been compared to the asbestos crisis, with public policy lagging behind the available science and more members of the public at risk because of the delay.
The latest issue to attract attention from the scientific community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the following response has been the importance of monitoring and controlling indoor air quality.
More than 160,000 of over half a million deaths in the United States occurred amongst nursing home staff or residents. The focus is shifting, now that a vaccine is available, to not only the virus and its transmission, but environmental factors that may have impacted transmission and infection rates.
Researcher’s at Melbourne’s RMIT looked at the indoor air quality of nursing homes and found levels of carbon dioxide more than three times the recommended levels as per public health standards. The levels indicate the lack of proper ventilation, which is common in nursing homes, which were built to be as energy-efficient as possible and keep the air inside. However, recirculating the air without proper ventilation or filters makes the air more dangerous.
America’s CDC has recommended that nursing and long-term care homes have professional medical-grade HEPA filters and where possible, updating HVAC systems, meaning that the air is changed six times in an hour.
Some experts have also called for better air purification systems to be included when new care facilities are designed, offering engineering controls that are dependable over the life of the building.