Everyone loves a good myth. Urban legends, folklore, fairy tales, fables, parables. You name it. Only with a myth you at least get the opportunity to 'debunk' it. We can't think of a single other thing you can debunk. So here in our latest blog we are literally 'debunking' 5 widely-held myths about indoor air hygiene.
We've all become a little more anxious about what sort of air is circulating in our homes and places of work over the last year or so. Not to mention retail, leisure and a host of other public-facing indoor areas once national lockdowns imposed to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus are eventually eased to the point at which a relatively normal life resumes.
It's long been suspected that the air that we breathe indoors can be just as bad for our collective health as that we inhale lungful's of when we're out and about. For suspected', read truth in the matter. As scientifically and clinically validated, not least in the guise of Sick Building Syndrome.
Air Quality Indoors Compromised by Advent of Covid-19
Naturally, when a pandemic sweeps the globe, which targets the human respiratory system, thoughts, must quickly turn to more ways in which we can protect ourselves when indoors. In addition, this new, applied thinking has given rise to a raft of confusing information and mixed messages.
Which is why we thought now is the time to extract the truth from the myths which have been bandied around left, right and centre since the start of the pandemic.
Myth 1 - The coronavirus can be destroyed by indoor air quality solutions being practised - MYTH! Largely.
If only it was that easy. We start with a punchy headline with echoes of former US President Trump. Moreover, this is an infamous - and wildly optimistic - claim that household disinfectants can banish all traces of Covid-19. Alas, disinfectant or not, there are no targeted products available on the current market which can protect us from contracting the virus. While certain indoor air quality solutions can admittedly redirect the flow of air in property ductworks, this alone doesn't eliminate airborne viruses in your home or office.
On the flip side, existing air-cleaning systems and UV lights within ductwork have been found to minimise the presence and legacy of certain viral entities. Plus, through the adoption of dedicated ventilation and filtration practices the likelihood of airborne contaminants penetrating indoor air is stripped back to a degree. Thus, reducing the potential for transmission. That much is true. However, there's no catch or cure all procedure or product that's 100% fool proof right now.
Myth 2 - Summer kills Corona! - MYTH!
It would be nice to believe this notion, that's for sure, and it was a theory which did the rounds last summer. However, the fact is this. Yes, the opportunities for dangerous levels of human-to-human exposure are decreased as more of us spend a greater percentage of our time enjoying the great outdoors. Yet realistically the virus hasn't gone on its holidays too. It will still be lurking and ready to pounce if you let your guard down within an indoor setting.
Research undertaken by Yale University has however reported that as humidity increases during spring and summer, the risk of viral transmission via airborne particles decreases both outside and indoors. Citing that indoor humidity may slow the spread of respiratory viruses. The return of good weather and higher temperatures doesn't necessarily equate to the decimation of Covid-19 across the board, unfortunately.
Myth 3 - My health won't be compromised by poor indoor air quality - MYTH! Outright!
You want a bet on that?
The science has told us for a number of years now that decreased ventilation in buildings can ultimately cause a range of health issues. From headaches, itchy nose and eyes and throat irritation, through to dizziness, nausea, skin problems and sensitivity to odours. Essentially all that constitutes the recognised health condition known as Sick Building Syndrome. Which accounts for a significant loss in productivity annually for thousands of employers, as employees succumb to such symptoms.
Primarily caused by various pathogens infiltrating properties, along with historical materials used in both building structures and furniture utilised within them. Meanwhile the latent threat from elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) which can often go unnoticed. And now of course you can add the risk of Covid-19 to the general mix, since it's 2021. So, yes. Health MIGHT be compromised by indoor air quality and the hygiene measures adapted by those individuals or employers responsible.
This myth focuses on pollen in the spring, more than anything else. Grass, tree, flower, etc. They all come out to play and make their presence felt. Sadly, a change in season is inevitable and poses some serious allergen challenges when safeguarding the indoor air we choose to breathe. Yet successes hinge on ventilation, not barricading yourself in your home. Lockdown or no lockdown.
Ventilating your home fully (e.g., inviting fresh air in), coupled with the installation of a proper air filter, can reduce the concentrations of infectious agents in your home. Good air flow is key, with no substitute for fresh air. Apart from air conditioning. Ventilation is paramount when it comes to keeping coronavirus at bay too. Stats have proven that during the MERS outbreak in the Middle East, fresh air actively diluted the rate of infection. Similarly, research elsewhere concluded that increasing the air exchange in an indoor space by two to three times per hour resulted in a 72% reduction of the transmission of tuberculosis.
This has been seen most recently with the additional ‘Fresh Air’ to the government slogan ‘Hands, Face, Space’ thus emphasising the necessity of maintaining good air flow.
Don’t stop the outdoor air getting in, just remember to filter it as it enters your home or office. So as to minimise the unwanted introduction of dust, smoke, ash, pollen and other outdoor contaminants.
Myth 5 - Brand new buildings with a fresh lick of paint makes for perfect indoor air hygiene - MYTH!
Unfortunately, not. Whilst on paper it makes sense. Brand new building, there nothing yet contaminated, paint still drying, etc. However, there is the not so inconsequential matter of paint fumes. Which are high on volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). Which of course are a sizeable group of chemicals that are found in many products used in the building and maintenance of our homes. VOCs lowers the quality of indoor air and bad for our general health and well-being when there's no ventilation of filtration going on to counter the effects.
What's more, materials such as formaldehydes (used to treat wood) and new carpets are more reasons why new commercial properties can adversely impact your health and definitely not what you'd refer to as conducive to good indoor air hygiene.
And then there's the airtight aspect. Were you aware that many commercial new builds are more hermetically sealed than properties constructed in the last century. Upshot being, the natual air flow impeded, thus resulting in damaging indoor air quality.
Myth 6 - Hallelujah for air fresheners improving indoor air hygiene! - MYTH.
Only they don't. On the contrary, as it happens. Don't be fooled by the delicious scents created by air fresheners, as apart from smelling nice (yet decidedly fake), they do nothing to improve the indoor air quality, whatsoever.
Chiefly because they comprise of chemicals that are potentially harmful. Prolonged inhalation of air fresheners could lead to an accumulation of detrimental substances that will subsequently end in the existence of poor air hygiene in the property.