Why We Must Prioritize Sanitization Of Indoor Air In the Wake Of COVID-19 The coronavirus transmits rapidly indoors due to poor or the lack of ventilation. Hence, the first step to stopping the virus is to ensure that any enclosed room or office building is well-ventilated with proper air circulation

By Himanshu Agarwal

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With nearly 10 million cases and over 475,000 fatalities to date, the highly infectious coronavirus has been affecting human lives for a little over six months now. There have been major changes to our lifestyle—from the way we work to the way we spend our leisure time. The world itself has gone through a drastic transformation. Countries have closed their borders for the first time in decades, authorities have imposed nationwide lockdowns, and social distancing has become the new norm.

Despite such radical measures in place, the virus continues on its global conquest, and governments around the world find themselves confronted with a series of pressing questions about their ability to rein in the pandemic. What is the most effective way to minimize transmission risks? Will social distancing be enough to flatten the curve? Whether or not staying indoors will ensure protection from COVID-19? This brings us to the topic of indoor air quality.

Scientists unanimously agree that the novel coronavirus mainly spreads via air droplets, which are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, and even speaks. The strain of the virus can survive in these air droplets for as long as three hours. What is more concerning is that the risk of infection is significantly higher in closed, poorly ventilated areas. Growing evidence also suggests that the airborne transmission of COVID-19 is more likely to happen in air-conditioned spaces.

A study conducted early this year by a group of Chinese researchers, analyzed the cases of 7,324 COVID-positive patients and found out that the infection risk is four times higher indoors than it is outside. Another preliminary report from Japanese scientists, which is currently awaiting peer review, indicates the same. It says that the chance of transmitting COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared with an open-air environment. These research findings emphasize on theneed to sanitize the air inside our homes as well as offices to restrain the virus' spread.

Deployment of New-age Technologies

The coronavirus transmits rapidly indoors due to poor or the lack of ventilation. Hence, the first step to stopping the virus is to ensure that any enclosed room or office building is well-ventilated with proper air circulation. Experts also believe that as the coronavirus latches on to tiny air droplets, it can travel faster and longer distances confined air-conditioned space. This is because air conditioners are not equipped with air filtration features to get rid of harmful bacteria and viruses which can pose major risks to our health. Under the current circumstances, it is likely that air conditioners, particularly the centralized ones, are a potential catalyst for COVID-19 and other airborne diseases. It goes without saying that there is an urgent requirement for advanced air cleaners and air purifiers that leverage cutting-edge technology to not only sanitize but also improve the quality of air.

Taking into account the risks associated with the usage of air conditioners, many companies are offering ISO-certified, tech-based solutions designed to eliminate all harmful particles including PM 2.5 and microbes with more than 90 per cent efficiency. Some of these systems come along with air quality monitors that can provide users with real time information on the quality of air their employees, patients, staff or family are breathing. These innovative and extremely effective mechanisms are safe to use indoors and have been tested in third-party laboratories under strict conditions.

As the "new normal' is setting in around the world and no one as of now can say when things are going to be back to pre-COVID times, we have to remain extremely vigilant and take every possible measure to prevent the contagion from spreading further. With large parts of the population staying inside for the unforeseeable future, sanitization of indoor air is one such crucial yet neglected measure that can keep us safe from the clutches of the virus. It is, therefore, necessary to create awareness about the importance of installing high-efficiency air filtration systems at both residential and commercial indoor spaces. Increased awareness among people will not only mitigate the infection risk but also ameliorate the overall air quality indoors.

Himanshu Agarwal

Founder and CEO, Magneto CleanTech.

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