Why ventilation and humidity are important against spread of coronavirus

3 min. reading - published on May 12, 2020

As an employer you want to offer employees and customers the safest possible environment and minimize the risk of contamination. Good ventilation, filtration and humidity reduce the spread of pathogens such as the new coronavirus.

In this blog you can read more about how viruses can spread in the working environment and what you can do to prevent this.

Spreading viruses
A virus can spread through the air. By coughing and sneezing, a virus comes out of your nose, throat or lungs, and gets into the air through small droplets. People can breathe in these droplets and become infected.

Yale researchers have indicated an important reason why people become ill more often when exposed to viruses in the air: low humidity. In addition to the measures for hygiene and social distancing against the coronavirus, it is therefore important to protect people by creating the right indoor humidity.

"The right humidity can slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to Yale scientists."

Healthy humidity
Dry air is often created in buildings that are heated during the winter months. The fresh cold outside air you bring into the building is dry. By heating the air, the relative humidity drops even further (to about 20%). This practically moisture-free air gives all the space for viruses such as COVID-19 to spread over a greater distance. In addition, viruses survive longer in dry air, which increases the risk of disease.

Grafiek luchtvochtigheid

Degree of infectivity in relation to indoor humidity.

Prof. Dr. Akiko Iwasaki of Yale states that at a relative humidity of around 50%, inhaled viruses are repelled and robust immune responses are generated. Our immune system is less able to defend itself against pathogens in dry air. The body defends itself with the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, among other things. Dry air makes mucus and cilia (which cover the mucous membranes) in your mouth less able to do their job. Vibrating hairs in the airways transport contaminated mucus. Dry air makes mucus in your mouth "sticky". This hinders the movement of the bristles and makes it harder to remove unwanted intruders.

It used to be quite normal to put a pan of water on the stove to keep the humidity level up. For a long time no attention was paid to this. In modern homes and buildings, the focus is mainly on temperature and less on a healthy air humidity.

Maximum ventilation

The temperature in rooms is seen as an important factor for human comfort. Ventilation and air humidity is often ignored. Legislation only provides for the necessary amount of fresh air per person. The background to this is that more ventilation costs more energy. During the corona crisis, it is increasingly recognized that maximum ventilation is an important factor for staying healthy in addition to the previously mentioned relative humidity of 50%. When you can ventilate energy efficiently it is advisable to do so.

Ventilation provides air purification which reduces the number of virus particles, according to REHVA. By adding clean air from outside, you dilute and displace the polluted air in a building. The more often a room is ventilated per hour, the cleaner the air becomes.

Solutions from the industry

An important task for the HVAC industry is to optimize the technology to meet the above observations without increasing energy consumption. An interesting challenge for all producers.

In order to control energy consumption, only a limited amount of fresh air is often added with existing cooling systems.

Oxycom's technology is based on maximum ventilation to remove heat from the building and bring the temperature to a pleasant level. The natural process of indirect/direct adiabatic evaporation is up to 90% more efficient than existing systems. Frequent ventilation of rooms with fresh air and thereby optimizing the humidity reduces the chance of pathogens spreading and provides a healthy and comfortable working environment.

Do you want to know what we can do for you? Contact our experts.

Picture of Roos Reinders
published on May 12, 2020

Roos Reinders

"Increasing the visibility of Oxycom online makes me feel good because our products reduce the global ecological footprint."

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