The subtitle in a recently published article in The Atlantic asks an obvious question to the world we find ourselves in today: “How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?” Our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus is still limited, research continues to be done on how the virus spreads, and steps remain to be taken to combat the viruses’ spread.
Research into airborne spread is not finished, leading to uncertainty about what other steps – beyond social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing surfaces – are necessary to increase public safety. Proper ventilation is one area that should be emphasized as a greater area of focus. As The Atlantic article states, there have been more than 1,200 documented super-spreader events, and less 50 of those events occurred outdoors. The two main commonalities between the majority of super-spreader events were crowds and indoor locations. Social distancing is often more difficult to maintain indoors, and studies have shown that respiratory droplets can be transmitted through a building’s HVAC system and infect others even if social distancing measures were being implemented.
Inadequate and nonexistent ventilation in a building can lead to increased infections regardless of the number of people in a space. This is partly why there are currently more coronavirus spread in parts of the South and Southwest part of the US, where summer temperatures drive people inside to the air conditioning. This will become more important in even more of the country as the weather cools and people in most parts of the country cannot spend as much time outdoors.
HEPA filters are the second key tool in the fight against indoor spread of the coronavirus. These filters are important not only in areas that do have sufficient ventilation, but also as additional protection where the weather prohibits opening windows or the building design makes it not possible.
Indoor air quality experts have long been calling for greater emphasis on both ventilation and proper air filtration in building design. Their long-time concerns about poor indoor air quality ranged from the build-up of fumes to off gassing from carpets or other building materials to aggravating pet and dust allergies to spreading illness. The idea of “sick building syndrome” takes on a whole new meaning in the time of a pandemic.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Global Filters, Global HVAC Equipment, and HVAC Equipment reports. Freedonia offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.