The US Environmental Protection Agency explains that increasing outdoor air ventilation helps reduce the concentration of airborne contaminants, including viruses. Increased ventilation also reduces surface contamination by removing some virus particles before they have the chance to land on surfaces. The World Health Organisation also believes that understanding and controlling ventilation can “reduce the risk of indoor health concerns, including preventing the virus that causes Covid-19 from spreading indoors.”
An ASHA publication agrees and adds that filtration should be a key consideration when mechanical ventilation is used. The UK and Irish Governments have also identified ventilation as a key consideration as we move towards reopening, with both establishing a panel of experts to research how best to improve ventilation. While there are different recommendations for improving ventilation based on building type and existing ventilation strategy, the general consensus from the experts is that increasing outdoor air ventilation reduces the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
The ability to increase ventilation in a building depends on the ventilation strategy being used. As indoor activities resume, business owners appear more interested in their ventilation strategy than ever before. In particular, school and office ventilation enquiries have significantly increased this year.
Ventilation strategies can be divided into two broad categories – natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation is the traditional ventilation strategy used in Ireland, where passive intake ventilators, hole-in-the-wall vents for example, are used to facilitate air movement. Mechanical ventilation relies on motorised fans which typically run 24 hours a day, pulling or pushing air in or out of the building.
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