Indoor Air Quality and the Holidays: What is the Big Deal?
2020 is winding down, which means we are quickly approaching the holiday season. People are excited to see their relatives over large meals, share big hugs with people they have not seen in ages and celebrate with indoor parties going all night long. But, this year will no doubt be different. As the holidays get closer, everyone is concerned with how this season will translate to the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed all of our lives. And how does indoor air quality tie into all of this?
One of the biggest factors of transmission for COVID-19 in the spread of germs inside. According to the EPA, “the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants.” One of the most efficient ways to clean unhealthy air is to dilute it with safer, fresher air. This can help to prevent the spread of airborne viruses and diseases.
Due to poor ventilation, limited fresh air, and a buildup of pollutants inside like fine dust particles, dander, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), indoor air quality can be significantly worse than outdoors. [DW1][L2]You are 18.7 times more likely to contract coronavirus indoors versus open-air environments[DW3][L4] . And with the holidays taking place during the late fall and winter, areas that experience a colder season may not have the option to celebrate outdoors. With limited time outside, having crowds of people indoors will lead to higher concentration of germs in the air, and thus, optimize conditions for transmission of viruses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all aware of different ways we can spread germs and different measures we can take to prevent contagion. Wearing masks all the time, regular hand washing, and social distancing have been proven to help reduce the likelihood of spreading viruses. However, what about the air we breathe? With or without a mask, we are still inhaling air continuously that may hold harmful microscopic pathogens. One of the hardest things to monitor and keep clean is the air that we breathe. So please stay safe and healthy this holiday season.