Airborne transmission of COVID-19 is still a concern for public health officials as the virus continues to spread and mutate. In offices, hotels, retail stores and schools, the risk of transmission is particularly high due to the proximity of occupants in these spaces.
Many building owners and managers have implemented a variety of strategies to mitigate the risk of infection. These usually include enhancing ventilation and filtration systems, regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, and the use of ultraviolet (UV) light technology to kill the virus in the air etc.
Despite these efforts, some experts have raised concerns about the effectiveness of these strategies, particularly in poorly ventilated spaces, smaller rooms or buildings with older heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
In a new research paper that made the cover of the first 2023 issue of Buildings, and Leon Wang, Concordia University Research Chair in Building Airflow and Thermal Management and professor in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and PhD student Shujie Yan, worked with colleagues from the University of Colorado Boulder and found that for small spaces, in-duct air treatment would be insufficient and additional in-room treatment air cleaning would be required.
The paper adopts a multizone modeling approach to study how the virus spreads through different areas of a public building and how different strategies, such as air filtration and ventilation, can help reduce the transmission of the virus.
For example, using their model, they found that the use of masks combined with a portable air cleaner device could safely permit two-hour meetings to take place in a small meeting room for the case of interest in their study.
The main goal of the paper is to provide information that can help building and facilities managers make decisions in the future about how to keep their occupants safe from the virus.
Read “Multizone Modeling of Airborne SARS-CoV-2 Quanta Transmission and Infection Mitigation Strategies in Office, Hotel, Retail, and School Buildings” published December 31, 2022, in Buildings.