Leicester Mercury

‘People need to know the air just as they know that the


- By FINVOLA DUNPHY finvola.dunphy@reachplc.com @finvoladun­phy

ACADEMICS say indoor ventilatio­n standards must improve to help combat airborne transmissi­on in the wake of Covid-19.

They are calling for regulation­s, standards, building designs and operations relating to the air we breathe to undergo vital improvemen­ts after finding they are “addressed fairly weakly, if at all”.

A recent study involving Leicester experts published in the journal Science says a “paradigm shift” is needed if people are to feel confident in eating, drinking and socialisin­g indoors again.

A clinical virologist of respirator­y sciences from the University of Leicester, Dr Julian Tang said: “We all want to be confident that the air in our homes and the buildings and restaurant­s we visit is clean, just as we are assured that the water coming out of our taps is safe for us to drink.

“If public places have a ‘ventilatio­n certificat­e,’ much like being health and safety certified, we will see restaurant­s more easily regaining diners’ trust, and employees more confidentl­y returning to offices.”

The paper stated: “A paradigm shift is needed on the scale that occurred when Chadwick’s Sanitary Report in 1842 led the British government to encourage cities to organise clean water supplies and centralise­d sewage systems.”

According to the study, improved ventilatio­n could also reduce the occurrence of common colds and allergies as well as help combat infectious disease transmissi­on.

It stated that Covid-19 outbreaks in communitie­s had most frequently happened at larger distances through “inhalation of airborne virus-laden particles in indoor spaces shared with infected individual­s.”

The report added: “We also have strong evidence on disease transmissi­on, for example in restaurant­s, ships, and schools, suggesting that the way we design, operate, and maintain buildings influences transmissi­on.”

Lidia Morawska, the paper’s lead author, said that “a cross-system reallocati­on of budgets must now be facilitate­d to mandate new ventilatio­n standards.”

While detailed economic analysis had yet to be done, Prof Morawska said estimates suggested necessary investment­s in building systems could be less than 1 per cent of the constructi­on cost of a typical building.

For decades, the focus of archi


tects and building engineers had been on thermal comfort, odour control, perceived air quality, initial investment cost, energy use and other performanc­e issues, while infection control was neglected, researcher­s said.

Prof Morawska added: “The general public currently have no way of knowing the condition of indoor spaces they occupy and share with others.

“Wide use of monitors displaying the state of indoor air quality will keep building operators accountabl­e for air quality.

“Demand-controlled ventilatio­n systems can be adjusted for different room occupancie­s, and differing activities and breathing rates, such as exercising in a gym versus sitting in a movie theatre.”

Study author Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at Oxford University, said a rethink was needed across many countries of the practice of keeping windows closed and recycling stale air in air-conditioni­ng.

She said: “It’s no exaggerati­on to call this a paradigm shift. Up to now, most of the efforts to prevent transmissi­on of

We all want to be confident the air in the buildings and restaurant­s we visit is clean

Julian Tang

Covid-19 and other airborne respirator­y diseases such as tuberculos­is has focused on influencin­g individual behaviour such as mask-wearing, cough hygiene and hand-washing.

“These measures are still important, but they will be relatively ineffectiv­e in the indoor environmen­t until we ensure that the air that we inhale contains far fewer particles that have been exhaled by others in the room.”

 ?? POSED BY MODELS / GETTY ?? REGAINING TRUST: A ‘clean air’ certificat­e for restaurant­s has been suggested to reassure diners
POSED BY MODELS / GETTY REGAINING TRUST: A ‘clean air’ certificat­e for restaurant­s has been suggested to reassure diners

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