A new study has warned that poor indoor air quality around the world poses a serious risk of another pandemic. The research, published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology, shows that pollutants in indoor air can increase the transmission of viruses, including COVID-19.
According to the study, poor ventilation, high humidity levels, and a lack of air filtration systems can create the perfect environment for viruses to thrive and spread. This is particularly concerning given that people spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors.
The study’s authors call for urgent action to improve indoor air quality in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics. This could include implementing ventilation systems, improving air filtration systems, and reducing the use of harmful chemicals in building materials and cleaning products.
The research also highlights the need for greater awareness of the importance of indoor air quality. While outdoor air pollution has been the subject of significant attention in recent years, indoor air quality has received less attention despite its potential impact on public health.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Emma Smith, said: “We need to take indoor air quality seriously and invest in measures to improve it. This is not only important for protecting against future pandemics but also for reducing the risk of other respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer.”
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The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution is responsible for seven million premature deaths each year, with indoor air pollution accounting for a significant proportion of this figure.
According to the researchers, building owners are unlikely to decide to monitor ventilation performance in the absence of governments creating legally binding regulations for building ventilation performance.
The study concluded that while real-time hourly ventilation rates are required to accurately assess their efficacy, they are currently an “unrealistic goal”. Instead, researchers suggest a predictive tool could be developed using large datasets of typical building performance at a far cheaper cost than real-time inspections.
“We remain optimistic that future innovation will result in advances in economic monitoring and predictive tools for determining ventilation performance in the billions of indoor spaces worldwide,” said Yuguo Li, professor at the University of Hong Kong.
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