Decades of research have shown the importance to health and safety of ventilation in public spaces. We recognise the importance of all available barriers in the defence against airborne pathogens such as the SARS-COV-2 virus but our focus is on ventilation – the key, but often ignored defense against disease transmission. Proper ventilation ensures the circulation of clean air through an indoor space, thereby clearing out pollutants. Assessment includes measuring carbon dioxide concentrations in specific areas of occupied indoor spaces as it has been shown that the carbon dioxide levels are a good proxy for the levels of other possible contaminants in the air. GreenFlag certification is issued if ventilation controls are adequate.
Ventilation is the most neglected barrier to the spread of disease
25% of COVID-19 infections are linked to the fomite route
- Studies show lower transmission infections attributed to the fomite route (about 16%)
- Aerosol transmission of COVID-19 is probably the most important route of transmission
- Virus-laden aerosols frequently infect susceptible contacts at close proximity where they are most concentrated — like smoke
- The main “universal” barriers to transmission in public spaces now importantly include ventilation
Airborne Particulate Matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid and aerosol particles
composed of small droplets of liquid, dry solid fragments and solid cores with liquid coatings that vary in size. Particles are defined by their size for air quality regulatory purposes. Those with a diameter of 10 microns or less (PM10) are inhalable into the lungs and can induce adverse health effects. Fine particulate matter is defined as particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5).
PM10 and PM2.5 often derive from different emissions sources. Emissions from combustion of gasoline, oil, diesel fuel or wood produce much of the PM2.5 pollution found in outdoor air. PM10 includes dust from construction sites, landfills and agriculture, wildfires and brush/waste burning, industrial sources, wind-blown dust from open lands, pollen and fragments of bacteria.
Both PM2.5 and PM10 can be inhaled, with some depositing throughout the airways.
Particles deposited on the lung surface can induce tissue damage, and lung inflammation. PM2.5 is associated with the greatest proportion of adverse health effects related to air pollution.
Short-term exposures to PM10 have been associated primarily with worsening of respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), leading to hospitalisation and emergency department visits.
Long-term (months to years) exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to premature death, particularly in people who have chronic heart or lung diseases, and reduced lung function growth in children.