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September 25, 2021

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‘Most people worry about indoor air quality amidst the COVID-19 pandemic’, survey finds

A survey commissioned by Vaisala, a measurement technology company, shows that people would feel safer with more data on indoor air quality.

The survey, which included over 4,000 respondents in the USA, France, Germany, and Finland, was conducted in the summer of 2021, studying people’s concerns regarding indoor air during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than one third of the respondents are concerned about the indoor air quality in their place of work, and more than half said that concerns with indoor air quality impacts their motivation to visit public spaces. Around two thirds of respondents also said that these concerns impact their motivation to travel.

“Vaccination rates are high in the surveyed countries, but the survey revealed high levels of concern with air quality in indoor spaces. We believe this is because, intuitively, people understand that infection risk is higher in indoor spaces where people are in close proximity with each other, and where ventilation is insufficient,” says Anu Kätkä from Vaisala’s product management.

“When people spend too long in a poorly ventilated space, their exhaled breath causes carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to rise. Higher levels of CO2 impact people’s well-being, health and performance, but importantly, monitoring CO2 levels can highlight when the risk of COVID-19 transmission is high and better ventilation is required. By monitoring CO2 levels in indoor spaces, organisations can therefore provide the reassurance that the survey respondents need.”

Respondents want more data on indoor air quality at workplaces

Out of all the respondents, the Finns are the most confident about going back to work: 71% of Finnish respondents feel safe about returning to the workplace. 70% of French respondents feel safe about returning; 65% of American respondents, and just 55% of the German respondents.

50% of all respondents said that they would feel safer about returning to work with more information about indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality can be monitored with instruments that measure, among other parameters, CO2, humidity, and temperature. These parameters can be used to automatically inform ventilation and building management systems so that indoor air quality can be optimised.

“Indoor air does not only affect exposure to airborne diseases but also employees’ energy levels, because exhaled breath increases CO2 levels which, in turn, increase drowsiness,” Kätkä continues.

Indoor air quality monitoring needed in public spaces

The survey also studied people’s perception of indoor air quality in public spaces, such as shopping centres, sports facilities, and public transportation. Overall, people are more concerned about indoor air quality in public areas than at their place of work. 50% of all respondents would like more information in the workplace, whereas 60% would like more information on indoor air quality in public spaces.

The concern with indoor air quality in public spaces translates into a reluctance to travel, with 65% of respondents saying that concerns with indoor air quality in public places affect their motivation to travel.

Schools, shopping centres, restaurants, stations and airports all benefit from indoor air quality monitoring. Viruses travel faster in dry air, but humidity can make people feel unwell. It is therefore important to monitor and maintain optimal conditions, and to share the monitoring data with all stakeholders, including staff and members of the public.

Good ventilation in the workplace can help reduce the spread of coronavirus, says HSE

Majority of people want more accurate data on indoor air

Based on the survey results, indoor air quality is a concern of at least every third person, and more than half of all the respondents want more information and data on air quality inside those places where they spend time. This means that facility managers face important decisions.

“In recent years, many countries have implemented regulations concerning the monitoring of indoor air quality parameters such as CO2. These regulations are designed to ensure optimal air quality, but in order to achieve this goal, accurate and science-based data is essential,” explains Kätkä.

Reliable measurement instruments perform a key role in decision making to prevent the spread of diseases and protect people’s health. The prerequisite for healthy indoor air is efficient ventilation and air conditioning that prevents diseases from spreading, keeps the mind clear, and ensures a healthy environment.

Watch: Benefits of clean air in indoor working environments

‘Work-related suicides should be monitored and regulated’

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we are joined by Sarah Waters, Professor of French Studies at the University of Leeds, to look at a study, published by University of Leeds and Hazards Campaign, which calls on the HSE to monitor, regulate and ultimately prevent workplace suicides.

Click here to listen to this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast.

Sarah Waters

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
2 months ago

Bringing back the focus on Sick Building Syndrome and maybe day and work lighting at home and in the office post coronavirus.