Indoor air hygiene and building engineering controls will be essential in limiting the spread of airborne, highly contagious COVID-19 variants, together with vaccinations, masks, and testing.
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) of the Department of Energy provided a thorough review of the state of the science for several key strategies to reduce the risk of airborne infection using building controls, including ventilation, filtration, airflow management, and disinfection by germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light, in a recent review published in the journal Indoor Air.
"We discovered solid proof that indoor environmental controls can be successful in preventing transmission. For our schools, offices, and other sorts of indoor gathering spaces to support in-person activities, building controls must be implemented efficiently and at scale while taking operational issues and energy costs into account, according to Berkeley Lab researcher Rengie Chan.
Chan and colleagues showed how different building control adjustments affected transmission risk at the close-by, room-scale, and building-scale levels using a computer simulation. Respiratory aerosols, which can spread viruses, can be largely eliminated from space by ventilation or air filtration, lowering exposure. However, respiratory aerosols can quickly mix throughout a space. Maintaining even 2-3 feet of personal space significantly lowers the possibility of direct transfers from one person to another in addition to engineering controls.
Many different types of building controls are effective. By opening windows and enhancing outdoor circulation through an HVAC system, ventilation can be obtained. Using standalone or portable air cleaners or replacing HVAC filters to have a higher efficiency rating are two options for filtration. Germicidal UV light, which is currently underutilized but has in the past proved successful in halting the spread of measles during school outbreaks, allows for low-cost, whole-room disinfection.
Environmental health epidemiologist for the study Jacob Bueno de Mesquita stated, "These viruses are transported in respiratory fluid particles undetectable to the human eye, which can remain suspended in the air for minutes to hours, and can be inhaled by those sharing the air in an indoor place." "Reducing viral exposure by breathing is crucial. The chance of infection or the severity of any prospective sickness may be reduced even when viral exposure cannot be completely eradicated.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the Department of Energy provided the majority of the funding for the study. (ANI)