Indoor air quality should be a high priority for home and business owners alike during the coronavirus pandemic. The fresher it is, the safer it is, experts say.
To avoid COVID-19 infection, the next best thing to do besides self-isolate is to go outdoors, where the virus has a harder time spreading. It’s easier to social distance in all that space, and the breeze helps disperse COVID-19 droplets, preventing them from lingering.
But sooner or later, everyone comes in from the summer sunshine, to their homes, or friends’ houses, places of work, bars, and restaurants. And in these places where the air is more still and stale, the coronavirus droplets can hang in the air, or waft about at nose and mouth level until they meet someone’s face.
So how can indoor spaces be made safer? Start by opening a window.
“The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of outside air replacing the stale air inside,” Shelly Miller, mechanical engineering professor at University of Colorado Boulder, wrote in an essay for The Conversation.
“Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and reduces the exposure of anyone inside.”
To be even more effective, put a box fan by that window and set it to blow air outside.
As a general rule, the more people there are in a given space, the more often the air needs to be recycled, she said.
Another option is investing in an air cleaner, if there’s money to spare. Even portable air cleaners can run several hundred dollars or more.
Air purification filters can also be purchased and installed in an HVAC system.
“When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency — but they’re no silver bullet, just another tool.
“By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others, filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors,” according to the EPA.
It’s important to note not all air purifiers or filters are equally effective. For best results, get something that uses a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA), as they’re proven to remove 99% of airborne microbes.
For even more protection, some have turned to ultraviolet light (UV) devices to disinfect objects and surfaces, McClatchy News reported, though there’s some debate over their effectiveness.