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Better air quality to prevent the virus

Better air quality is one of many aspects that must be taken into account in the overall coronavirus prevention strategy of organisations. What measures should be taken? What role can installations play?

The contribution is by Filippo Busato, Technical Director of Econ Energy and President of AICARR, energy management referent in the working group set up by Contec for the management of the health emergency.

The topic of energy management is by definition attentive to the role of technological systems of general services in terms of performance and energy efficiency.

Inside the workplace, thermotechnical systems (a subgroup of general service systems) must guarantee thermo-hygrometric comfort and indoor air quality, for the purposes of productivity (Wargocki et al. 2008) and safety (reduction in the number of accidents, Legislative Decree 81/08 as amended and supplemented).

In the case of the COVID-19 emergency it is very important to remember the role that the plants can have to obtain a better air quality, as done by AiCARR in the document published in the last days [3]. The WHO issued on 27 February 2020 the document “Preparing the workplace for COVID-19” [2].

SARS.Cov2-19 is a virus believed to be transmissible from person to person in three ways [3]:

1) by close and direct contact with an infected person;

2) by inhalation of liquid droplets produced by the infected person;

3) by contact with surfaces contaminated by the virus [1].

Direct contact with respiratory secretions appears to be the main route of transmission in these situations. To date, official sources [4] do not report any evidence of possible airborne transmission (bio-aerosols) [5].

Considering that outside air is not normally contaminated by the virus, it is recommended [3] to ventilate frequently rooms without mechanical ventilation (by simply opening windows).

As explained in the documents mentioned, in order to minimise the effects of an infected person inside a workplace, it is also advisable [3]:


1) reduce the occupancy level from one person per 7 m2 to one person per 25 m2;

2) if there are ventilation systems with air renewal, always keep them on;

3) consider the possibility of closing the recirculation pathways and avoiding that the air introduced is contaminated with the air extracted or expelled from the rooms.

For a better air quality, it is also recommended, for all possible interventions on the systems (it is not necessary to provide for extraordinary hygienic interventions in general) that the personnel is qualified and equipped with suitable personal protective equipment.


Riferimenti bibliografici
1. Wargocki et al., 2008, Clima interno e produttività negli uffici (trad. italiana di Stefano Schiavon), collana AiCARR, Dario Flaccovio editore, Milano.
2. WHO, 2020, “Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19”, World Health Organization.
4. WHO, 2020, “Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19. Technical Brief 3 March 2010”, World Health
5. CDC, 2019, “Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta, GA 30329.

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