Poor air quality in offices reduces performance and increases the risk of virus transmission through aerosols. This also applies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Increased CO2 concentration means more aerosols in the office. Carbon dioxide levels can be measured and reduced by good ventilation.
Returning from the Home Office – Am I Safe in the Office?
Your employees are uncomfortable with the thought of returning to the office? Worried about catching the pandemic and contracting Covid-19? They're right to be.
Numerous studies indicate that, in addition to direct droplet infection within a radius of 1.5 meters, aerosols are major carriers of coronaviruses, especially indoors.
Furthermore, the humidity in rooms plays a role.
The ideal humidity level is between 40 and 60 percent. Researchers suggest that this relative humidity reduces the transmission of viruses through the nasal mucosa.
Virus Transmission through Aerosols
The World Health Organization (WHO) points to virus transmission through aerosols in its publication on the transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. The head of the Hermann Rietschel Institute at the Technical University of Berlin, Prof. Dr. Martin Kriegel, examines these findings and comes to the conclusion that any increase in the supply of outdoor air is generally sensible.
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) recommends:
"Also, provide good ventilation indoors to ensure that transmission of coronavirus through aerosols remains rare. Ventilate all rooms regularly and frequently."
Air Humidity and Virus Transmission
In the scientific journal "Aerosol and Air Quality Research", researchers from the Leipzig TROPOS Institute together with the Indian CSIR-National Physical Laboratory published the results of an evaluation of ten international studies on the influence of air humidity on the spread of influenza pathogens and various coronaviruses. In addition to the measures of distance and masks, the researchers recommend controlling the humidity of the air in the room.
What does good Indoor Air mean?
In indoor spaces, the volume of air is limited. The air quality in rooms depends on various factors. It is well known that air pollutants from materials or building materials can worsen the air and lead to illness, but here we are talking about the exhalations of the people themselves.
If there are more people in the room, they exhale more CO2, the room air deteriorates and the risk of infection increases.
The carbon dioxide content is considered a good indicator of poor air, and the measurement is made in parts per million (ppm).
The Swiss Lung League considers a CO2 measuring device to be a good means of assessing indoor air quality. As a rule of thumb, the Lung League cites values below 1400 ppm as good, between 1400 and 2000 ppm as moderate, and above 2000 ppm as poor air quality. Similar values apply in the EU. For comparison, the CO2 concentration in outdoor air is around 400 ppm.
What Health Hazards lurk in the Office?
Poor indoor air makes us feel unwell. In its paper on the health assessment of carbon dioxide in indoor air, an ad hoc working group of the German Federal Environment Agency and the supreme state health authorities points to the following study results.
For example, model calculations by the European Collaborative Action (ECA) on "Indoor Air Quality and its Impact on Man" have long shown that 20 percent of room users are dissatisfied at levels as low as 1000 ppm and around 36 percent at levels as high as 2000 ppm. Studies on school children also showed that lowering the average CO2 concentration from 1300 ppm to 900 ppm resulted in a significant improvement in performance.
Poor indoor air leads to mood disorders. Especially in the winter months, fatigue, respiratory illnesses, and infectious diseases occur more frequently. Dry indoor air attacks eyes and mucous membranes. And carbon dioxide concentrations of over 1400 ppm can lead to poor concentration or headaches. All of this results in a drop in performance and even more sick leave, which means higher costs for companies.
How do I control the Air Quality in the Office?
Our human perception cannot be relied upon. We usually only notice how stale the air in a room is when we leave the room and realize how "thick the air is inside of it" when we return – and yet we quickly get used to it again. Similarly, we mistake cool air for fresh air, and as a result, we often don't ventilate enough during the cold season.
Indoor air quality measuring devices help to objectively control the air in the office. The devices measure CO2 concentration, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Intelligent indoor air quality measurement devices such as AIRICA transmit the measurement data in real time and visualize it on a dashboard, providing immediate feedback to the user. In this way, the values remain in the field of vision and a targeted air exchange can be carried out.
Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), the indoor air quality measuring devices not only display the values in traffic light form, but also determine the break length for sufficient air exchange, taking into account the number of employees.
The intelligent measuring devices function independently of the existing company network. They transmit the real-time measurements to the dashboard via a LoRaWAN, a wireless battery-powered system. AIRICA runs as a managed service including monitoring and device management.
What are the Advantages of Indoor Air Quality measuring Devices?
In offices, in meeting rooms, but also in kitchens, the CO2 concentration increases when several people are present. In addition, there are other air pollutants such as perspiration or odorous substances from cosmetics. An effective air exchange reduces the aerosol concentration in the room. The use of indoor air quality measurement devices raises awareness of these risks and thus minimizes the risk of contracting COVID-19.
What does this mean for Employees?
Indoor air quality measurement devices protect employees. Reduced risk of infection makes for a more comfortable workplace, especially in times of pandemic. Fresh air supply improves the ability to concentrate and increases cognitive abilities, which leads to more satisfaction at work.
A healthy working atmosphere gives employees security and they perceive you as an attractive employer who takes social responsibility.
How do they benefit Employers?
Employers are often unaware of the negative consequences of poor indoor air quality. Absenteeism due to illness, decreased productivity and increased error rates due to decreased concentration are not unheard of. Good air quality increases productivity by between 2 and 18% per employee per year. With an average annual salary of 50,000 euros, this results to between 1,000 and 9,000 euros. The costs of monitoring air quality and taking appropriate measures to improve it are many times lower.
However, modern measuring devices not only reduce the risk of contagion, they also make it possible to optimize the use of the building by making appropriate use of the rooms. In addition, they are a plus when recruiting employees, because they prove that you are a progressive employer who thinks ahead.
Professional monitoring of indoor air quality reduces the risk of infection by SARS-CoV-2 viruses. The devices not only measure the indoor air quality, but also suggest concrete measures for improvement. Your employees will feel safer and more comfortable in the workplace. Indoor air quality measurement devices improve the performance of your employees. At the same time, they reduce costs by reducing absenteeism due to illness and by optimizing the use of your premises.