Let’s keep ventilation open: Why The White House is clearing the air on COVID

Posted

16th June 2022

Research

The topic of ventilation and air filtration is gathering momentum in the media, especially as there seems to be no end to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we learn to adapt and continue our lives whilst co-existing with an airborne disease, ventilation and air filtration has never been more important.

The White House on indoor air quality

In fact, if you’re not having conversations around ventilation and air filtration, then you’re missing a beat because even The White House (yes, of the USA!) is talking about it. In a recent blog post, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) [1] highlight the importance of making indoor environments safer. Despite the emphasis during the pandemic being on hospital environments, the conversation around ventilation and air filtration must continue and include other indoor areas such as schools, offices and leisure areas like restaurants and cinemas. The Belgian government has recently mandated that all publicly accessible spaces are legally required to install a CO2 monitor in their premises to effectively monitor air quality.[2]

What do we mean by ventilation?

Ventilation is the movement of ‘clean’ or outdoor air, into an indoor space. For most of us, that involves opening a window and “letting in some fresh air”. It might even be the first thing we do as soon as we wake up or start cooking a meal.

Black & white Florence Nightingale

"Fresh air, the only defence a nurse needs"

In fact, Florence Nightingale was a huge advocate of opening windows. So much so, that in her book Notes on Nursing, published in 1859, she quotes the following: “Cleanliness, fresh air from open windows, are the only defence a true nurse either asks or needs”. This suggests that the practice of opening windows and allowing fresh air in, could stop the spread of infections.

Related article: Why ventilation is important & the role of air filtration units

The power of portable HEPA units

In the absence of being able to open a window or in areas where airborne contaminants are high, what are the options? Pirkle and colleagues [3] evaluate the use of portable HEPA units in small, often poorly ventilated, outpatient examination rooms. In their simulation, they conclude that HEPA filters are a useful addition to ensure that examination rooms are made safe for both patients and staff.

Rediair air purifier in busy office

Why we need air filters indoors

The White House blog post suggests that conversations around air filtration are important not just relating to healthcare but other indoor environments. So, what happens in places like schools, restaurants, and cinemas, when it might not be possible to open a window? Rooms or spaces with little ventilation or where large numbers of people get together are areas where the need for ventilation is increased.

Related article: Why taking care of the air makes our offices safer

A study conducted in China, [4] which looked at how transmission occurred in the 318 outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 identified, out of the 318 outbreaks, approximately 80% occurred in an indoor environment. This suggests that the indoor environments in which we work, live and socialise in, are a contributing factor for the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and subsequently other airborne diseases.

School classroom with Rediair air purifier

Air purifiers in schools

In the UK, a lot of children and young adults are currently undertaking formal examinations, for many, the first in the last two years. A systematic review [5] published this year, highlighted that most schools have inadequate ventilation to “achieve classroom environments that are … safe from airborne diseases”.

Despite the Department for Education [6] running a scheme that allows state-funded schools to buy an air-purifying device, there remain institutions who may not be able to do this and require an alternative.

GAMA's latest innovation in air purification

Rediair makes poorly ventilated spaces safer by providing clean air where & when you need it. It contains two carbon composite HEPA 14 filters which work in tandem with dual centrifugal intake fans to capture particulates, odours and 99.995% of airborne pathogens. It also has an exceptionally high clean air delivery rate (CADR) of up to 600m3/h all while being surprisingly quiet. With its 4 modes of operation, Rediair is designed to decontaminate without causing distraction.

If you'd like more information on Rediair, get in touch by submitting an enquiry on our contact us page. Help spread awareness about ventilation by sharing this article on social media.


Claudia Author Block

Claudia Santos

Clinical Specialist - Capital, GAMA Healthcare


References:
[1] Let's Clear The Air On COVID | The White House. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2022/03/23/lets-clear-the-air-on-covid/. Published 2022. Accessed May 30, 2022.

[2] Belgian Government. Indoor Air Quality: Policy Of The Future And Legislative Framework.; 2022. https://vandenbroucke.belgium.be/nl/binnenluchtkwaliteit-beleid-van-de-toekomst-en-wetgevend-kader. Accessed May 30, 2022.

[3] Pirkle S, Bozarth S, Robinson N et al. Evaluating and contextualizing the efficacy of portable HEPA filtration units in small exam rooms. American Journal of Infection Control. 2021;49(12):1506-1510. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2021.08.003

[4] 3. Qian H, Miao T, Liu L, Zheng X, Luo D, Li Y. Indoor transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2. Indoor Air. 2020;31(3):639-645. doi:10.1111/ina.12766

[5] Ding E, Zhang D, Bluyssen P. Ventilation regimes of school classrooms against airborne transmission of infectious respiratory droplets: A review. Building and Environment. 2022;207:108484. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108484

[6] More support to keep pupils in the classroom. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-support-to-keep-pupils-in-the-classroom. Published 2022. Accessed May 30, 2022.

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