Covid-19 Transmission Vulnerability for Office Workers

Room Air Scrubbers Offer Protection for Office Workers

Covid-19 Transmission Vulnerability for Office Workers 1

As of the time of this writing, more than 6.3 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 190,000 have died. (1) Worldwide, there have been nearly 28,000,000 human beings who have perished from the disease.

Covid-19 has the ability to take down communities. As a contagion, it is a force with which to be reckoned.

And yet, many Americans are expected back in the office, business as usual. Likely, no building manager or business owner is taking their back-to-work requirement lightly. They know that their workers are leaving the safety of their home workspaces behind and that careful consideration must be given to the wellbeing of their employees. What’s the best way to ensure everyone avoids illness? A clean and healthy Indoor Air Quality.

Now, more than ever, uncontaminated air is crucial to preventing transmissible illness. Being able to provide this requires knowledge and a willingness to go the extra mile.

The first step is knowing the enemy, which in this case, is the virus itself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s protective health agency under the US Department of Health & Human Services, (2) breaks down the novel coronavirus by its attributes and its transmissibility:

• COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus that primarily spreads from person to person.
• The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new coronavirus, a contagion that has spread globally.
• COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe illness. Many infected people are asymptomatic.
• You can become infected by coming into close contact (about 6 feet or two arm lengths) with a person who has COVID-19.
• You can become infected from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
• You may also be able to get it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

The World Health Organization (3) goes further,

Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. These include saliva or respiratory droplets that are released from the mouth or nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, for example. People who are in close contact with an infected person can catch COVID-19 when those infectious droplets get into their mouth, nose or eyes. People with the virus in their noses and throats may leave infected droplets on objects and surfaces when they sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. Other people may become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses or mouths before cleaning their hands.

Office environments, like any place where people from disparate households gather, are potential breeding grounds for germs. Office employees spend the majority of their waking workweek hours inside, sharing space with others. This creates an atmosphere ripe for germ-sharing. Consider the seasonal flu. As we all know, year after year, every American becomes a potential vector for the infection. Every surface, a possible hot spot for transmission. If even one doorknob or computer keyboard has a transmittable bug, a virus can infect nearly everyone in that workspace in a matter of hours. That’s what makes cleaning and disinfecting so crucial.

But COVID-19 transmission is more common by way of airborne respiratory droplets, (4) meaning that the biggest risk of viral spread comes from sick people, not from objects. The coughing and sneezing of an obviously ill person are red flags, of course. But what about the asymptomatic coworker who talks or clears his throat nearby or who, without thinking, hiccups when drinking water? The aerosols from that person can linger in the air and circulate. Which is to say, cleaning the air is as important as cleaning surfaces.

Even before Covid-19 hit the scene, the CDC made recommendations for controlling unhealthy occupational exposures in the form of their Hierarchy of Controls model. This model offers five ways to reduce transmission among workers by enacting the various control methods. (5)

Covid-19 Transmission Vulnerability for Office Workers 2

While social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and wiping down surfaces make workplaces safer, the most effective control measure is elimination. It is often the most difficult “control” to implement due to cost and any potentially complicated mechanical structures that exist in a building. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to reduce transmission threats in higher-risk areas (such as conference and breakrooms). (6)

Air cleaners and HEPA filters are designed to draw in polluted air and filter out the impurities. Air cleaning and filtration can help reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses. Portable air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) may be particularly helpful. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. But when used alongside other control methods recommended by the CDC air filtration can be an effective means to protecting office workers.

Our portable HEPA filter air cleaning systems come in three different models, the filtration and recirculation capabilities ranging in room sizes as small as your typical classroom to multi-use areas up to 1200 sq. ft.

To find out more about our office air cleaning systems – such as our 987 AMB HEPA Room Air Scrubber – contact Air Impurities Removal Systems Inc. to speak to one of our clean air specialists.