Experts call for a paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection

Experts call for a paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection

Breathing City’s Professor Cath Noakes, along with 39 other leading experts in the transmission of airborne pathogens, have published in Science today. They state “we need to establish the foundations to ensure that the air in our buildings is clean, with a significantly reduced pathogen count, contributing to the building occupants’ health – just as we expect for the water coming out of our taps.”

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses, the scientists are appealing for tighter regulations to control air quality in buildings and calling for World Health Organisation indoor air-quality guidelines, which cover pollutants such as carbon monoxide and other chemicals, to be extended to include airborne pathogens. The experts say individual governments need to introduce and enforce domestic regulations.  

Professor Noakes said: “Over the years, we have neglected the role that the air circulating inside a building plays in the way germs and viruses may spread between people. The pandemic has exposed that deficiency in our understanding and the way we seek to make buildings safer to use.     

“We need to introduce new mechanisms that keep pathogen levels in the air flow in buildings and other enclosed spaces to a minimum. That approach can be achieved with technology backed-up with a requirement to meet new standards.”

The holistic approach taken by the Breathing City network ensures indoor air quality improvement schemes also consider factors such as energy consumption, operational running costs, sustainability, occupant health, fire safety, thermal comfort, noise, weather protection, building use and crime. It is essential that retrofit schemes such as the UK government’s Green Homes Grant, take indoor air quality into consideration to ensure low carbon buildings are healthy buildings.

Additional press coverage from the BBC, The Independent, and University of Leeds