Proper Ventilation and Its Importance in Buildings Post-COVID-19
Indoor air quality is one of the most critical considerations in buildings. Without proper ventilation, people who enter the building are at a higher risk of health problems. Poor ventilation reduces productivity, too.
As more businesses and states open back up for in-person work, dining, shopping, or any other indoor activity, the importance of proper ventilation in buildings post-COVID-19 is all the more heightened. Fresh, circulated air helps control pollutants and contaminants in the air. The more people there are in a building, the more ventilation is needed. So, with an increased capacity of people in buildings as restrictions lift, proper ventilation is necessary.
Mitigates the Spread of COVID-19
Proper ventilation mitigates the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, reducing the risk of contracting an illness for those who enter the building. Ventilation is essential for any structure, but those that are densely populated, like schools, office buildings, hospitals, grocery stores, and shopping malls, especially need to be circulated air to prevent the spread of coronaviruses. Without proper ventilation, bacteria can more easily spread.
As someone who works in or on buildings, you need to ensure that you adequately ventilate your facility. Even though many people have received the vaccination, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about ventilation. COVID-19 is still active almost everywhere, so improve your building’s airflow today.
Protects Respiratory Health
Besides reducing the spread of COVID-19, proper ventilation protects respiratory health overall. In a building with damp or moldy conditions, the mold particles contribute to respiratory illnesses and worsen asthma. Damper conditions also promote dust mite growth, which causes breathing and itching problems.
Additionally, proper ventilation filters out allergens. In times of the year when allergens are the worst, having a ventilated building reduces the risk of allergy attacks and makes the indoor environment more comfortable. If someone were to develop respiratory problems resulting from poor ventilation and contract COVID-19, their health overall would be in greater danger.
Lowers Concentrations of Contaminants
Ensuring the ventilation system is effective in a building means the system lowers concentrations of contaminants. Though many who work in the construction or building management industries have transitioned to greener buildings, there are still many contaminants that could be drifting through the indoor air.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) expel into the air from various household furnishings and chemicals used to clean the inside of a structure. In high concentrations, these can become highly toxic. Although properly storing chemicals and being aware of the furnishings you purchase helps, having proper ventilation also controls contamination.
Plus, the fewer contaminations to hinder your health, the fewer chances COVID-19 may affect you if you got it.
Finally, ventilation helps reduce condensation buildup in a building. Without ventilation, humid air may cool quickly, and the air can’t hold in moisture anymore as water vapor. This is because moisture finds the coldest place in the building, like windows, walls, and lower levels, and it condenses to form water droplets.
Uncontrolled moisture and no ventilation mean mold and mildew may grow. Mold and mildew can cause severe respiratory problems. Someone with COVID-19 or who has had damage to their respiratory tract due to COVID-19 may have difficulty breathing or being comfortable in that environment.
How to Know If a Building Has Poor Ventilation
Illnesses that revolve around the respiratory system have all been linked to poor building ventilation. Doctors and medications can treat the diseases, but some are more serious than others.
Although these illnesses can be indicators of insufficient ventilation, there are other symptoms occupants may experience due to improper ventilation. These may include:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Dry mucous membranes
Other complications from poor ventilation and compromised indoor air quality include indoor air pollution and may result from poorly designed and operated ventilation systems and unanticipated uses of the building from its original intentions. Below are some sources of building air pollution:
- Pesticides entering through windows or doors
- Air fresheners
- Tobacco smoke
- Formaldehyde in wood products
- Cleaning materials
- Building furnishings that may hold in contaminants
- Paint or adhesive fumes
In addition to these, a building may have poor ventilation if the owner has not maintained the ventilation system. Therefore, You should ensure your facility is inspected yearly for proper ventilation and check that it receives the correct maintenance to promote the health of those who occupy the building.
How to Improve Ventilation in Buildings After COVID-19
Fortunately, there are ways to improve ventilation in buildings, especially after COVID-19. Whether you’re designing, building, renovating, or managing a structure, it’s essential to learn how to improve overall ventilation for happy and healthy occupants.
Open the Windows
Buildings designed with plenty of windows to open are great for ventilation. Opening the windows is one of the easiest ways to increase airflow. It circulates in the fresh air and pushes out stagnant and contaminated air.
Invest in Air Purifiers
Air purifiers improve air quality by filtering and removing particulate matter from the air. They can remove allergens, pollutants, and toxins, which boost indoor air quality and make space feel cleaner.
Use Fans for Circulation
The addition of ceiling fans or even standing fans to a building can help circulate the air in a room. Therefore, You can design a building with ceiling fans to make it easy for someone to flip a switch to get the air moving.
Update the HVAC System
By installing properly designed and well-running heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems into a building, you decrease the risks of pollutants and contaminants.
Consider how many people will occupy the building and the size of the building so you can install a system that can accommodate them. Also, ensure the HVAC system is regularly maintained and inspected.
Reduce Contaminants and Use of Products With Contaminants
Finally, when constructing or cleaning a building, use more environmentally friendly products and furnishings. COVID-19 led to people stocking up on harsh cleaning supplies to try to get rid of the virus. However, these products add pollutants to the indoor air, and everyone ends up breathing in the chemicals.
Using natural products and building materials that are greener keeps the air cleaner and the occupants healthier.
Promote Proper Ventilation Now and Always
Although proper ventilation is essential after COVID-19, it’s crucial any other time, too. It keeps people healthy, happy, and more productive.