Monitoring indoor air quality in real-time gives the right insights to maintain healthy conditions
Indoor air quality is important and regulated by law. In a previous article, we mentioned how Belgium enacted a federal law last year to regulate indoor air quality standards. However, the current situation makes it even more important to be able to monitor and act on this to ensure a healthy environment.
Just a few days ago, all 226 residents of a nursing home in Quebec were contaminated with Covid-19. The virus was airborne and was found throughout the building. How did this happen? The ventilation systems in the building were not working and, according to Caroline Duchaine, a bioaerosol specialist at Laval University, “the lack of ventilation undoubtedly allowed the virus to accumulate in the air and settle in places far from the infected patients”.
What we know about Coronavirus transmission routes
Current data suggest that airborne transmission can occur in two ways:
- Close contact transmission by large droplets (> 10 microns) that are released and fall on surfaces within about 1-2 m of the infected person.
- Airborne transmission by small particles (< 5 microns), which can remain in the air for longer periods of time and be transported long distances. This route of transmission has not been confirmed by the WHO, but it should be taken into account as a precaution when managing ventilation in buildings.
This mechanism implies that maintaining a distance of 1-2 m from infected persons may not be sufficient, and that increasing ventilation is useful because it removes more particles.
Current Recommendations to limit airborne transmission
When there is no HVAC in place
According to WHO recommendations, it is important to open windows and doors in closed environments (schools, office buildings, etc.) to ensure that the venue is well ventilated.
When there is an HVAC system in place
According to the REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations), in buildings with mechanical ventilation systems, longer operating times are required to remove virus particles from the building and to remove released virus particles from surfaces. It is therefore advisable to start ventilation a few hours earlier and stop it later than usual, or to run ventilation 24 hours a day, possibly with reduced (but not stopped) ventilation rates when people are not present.
In Practice: how to monitor indoor air quality in real-time?
In order to comply with current recommendations, it is important to be able to monitor air quality parameters remotely. What do you need to do in practice?
During the webinar, three experts will share with you the best practices to implement based on current scientific knowledge. You will learn how to:
- What data to collect and how to collect it automatically?
- How to analyse indoor air quality and which remote visualisation tools to use?
- How to detect threshold violations in real time? What alerts can be set to identify when ventilation is needed?
Samuel Caillou, Researcher in Building Heating & Ventilation at WTCB-CSTC-BBRI.
Geert Bellens, Engineer comfort and indoor climate in buildings at Metiz.
Frederic Wauters, Product and Innovation Manager at Energis, expert in digital solutions for energy, comfort, and air quality monitoring.