Why Ventilation Is Important?
Australians spend 90% of their time indoors hence why good ventilation is crucial for protecting individuals from moisture, smoke, odours and other pollutants. Indoor ventilation can also help control heat and humidity levels, which is critical for providing a healthy environment especially with the rise of COVID-19. COVID-19 is infectious and can spread from one person to another through respiratory particles. Research has shown that a well-ventilated area can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Can Improved Ventilation Stop COVID?
The Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) have identified improved ventilation as a potential additional control measure within a hierarchy of controls for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, ventilation controls cannot replace other infection prevention and control mechanisms.
When used along with other best practices (such as physical distancing and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces, wearing masks, and hand washing), increasing ventilation can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family.
Medical experts suggest that masks should be kept on in indoor spaces as the risk of COVID-19 spreading in crowded indoor environments is much higher than in outdoor spaces. Unlike indoor spaces, outdoor spaces benefit from natural ventilation. Adequate ventilation may not be the final solution for preventing COVID-19, but can certainly reduce the concentration of contaminated particles. This reduces the risk of transmission and the chances of surface contamination by removing the particles before they land.
Australian Standards For Ventilated Spaces
It is important to ensure that when you are building or renovating a space in Australia, you are abiding by the Australian Standards and Building Code Requirements for ventilation. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) states that you must have windows and other openings equivalent to at least 10% of the floor space or 3% of the floor area for roof lights (or a proportional combination of windows and roof lights). The BCA states if a room has no ceiling fan, it must achieve effective cross ventilation.
For mechanical ventilation, you need to ensure that the space complies with AS 1668.2 ‘Mechanical ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality’, which sets the minimum requirements for preventing an excess accumulation of airborne contaminants, objectionable odours and carbon dioxide concentrations.
While these guidelines have been in place for years, further requirements have been made to combat COVID-19 by limiting the number of people allowed in indoor settings. Optimal ventilation in line with the Australian standards is one of the critical elements that can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
How To Improve Ventilation
There are simple steps and actions that homeowners can take to improve natural ventilation and protect themselves from COVID-19. Some of these methods are easy and have low cost, let’s look at what you can do at home.
Open Doors And Windows
Opening as many doors and windows as possible (where safe to do so) will bring in fresh outdoor air and prevent virus particles from accumulating. Increasing the airflow will provide a strong air current that would allow fresh air to circulate throughout the space.
Use Air Conditioners
Many houses in Australia have air conditioners to combat the heat. Many people believe that air conditioners are not good for ventilation however, this is incorrect. If you are using an air conditioner, you should turn the fan function to ‘on’ rather than ‘auto’ to allow it to run continuously. Depending on the model of your air conditioner, consider using pleated filters as they can filter out contaminants and virus particles. Regardless of the type of filter, it is important that it’s fitting properly and change it every 3 months unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer.
Use An Air Purifier
Another alternative for houses without air conditioning is to invest in an air purifier to filter the air. These machines are known as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) cleaners and they come as portable devices that can be moved from one room to another. HEPA cleaners are extremely efficient in trapping particles that are exhaled into the air when breathing, coughing and sneezing.
If you are having trouble selecting the right device for your room, select a HEPA system that features a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) that meets or exceeds the square footage of the room where you intend to place it.
Turn On Exhaust Fans
We all use exhaust fans in our laundry rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Most exhaust fans can vent and move air outside. However, exhaust fans without that capability can still be used to improve airflow and keep virus particles from being concentrated in one place. This can reduce virulence load and provide extra protection from COVID-19.
Connecting a wind turbine (Whirlybird) roof ventilator directly to an open ceiling grille within the area of the home is another venting option to move air outside. This system will enable internal air to be continuously moved whilst ever the wind rotates the head of the vent on the roof and if installed into areas where moisture is an issue will also reduce the likely hood of airborne issues like mould and mildew occurring in the home.
When you have visitors to your home, it is recommended to keep all the exhaust fans on for 1 hour after they leave to help remove any remnants of virus particles that may still be in the air.
Use Portable Fans
Most of us have indoor portable fans for those hot days and placing a portable fan facing a source of natural ventilation (door or window) can ensure virus particles are getting blown outside. It is recommended that fans are not pointed towards people as this may cause cross-contamination and the virus to spread throughout the room. Ceiling fans are also an option for increasing airflow for those without portable fans.
You must be wondering by now if your space has the essential ventilation basics required. If you are looking to improve ventilation throughout your house or office, we are happy to assist. Contact us today to see what ventilation solution is suitable for you.