4 simple ways to keep indoor air quality safe

August 09, 2022

Dr Claire Bird, an Australian indoor air quality and microbiology scientist has shed some light on the best ways to keep your environment safe, here are her top tips to help combat the four most common indoor air quality issues.

With the combined COVID and flu surge sweeping through Australia at the moment, workplaces, schools, staff and students have been heavily impacted – workplace sick leaves have increased by 50% than the long-term average.

Increase in absenteeism and avoidance of schools and workplaces due to their highly populated environments have drawn much needed attention to the way these enterprises operate and the need for regulated hygienic systems in order for them to stay safe. 

Australian indoor air quality and microbiology scientist, Dr. Claire Bird is an Australian indoor air quality and microbiology scientist and Executive Secretary of The Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC). Here she shares her top four professional tips to help combat the four most common indoor air quality issues.

  1. Infection Spread.

Consider the four D’s

  • Density – amount of people in an indoor space
  • Duration – potential time in a space with another person
  • Distance – from an infected person
  • Dilution – of the pathogen of concern

2. Mould

Inspect your air conditioning units regularly, dry water leaks within 48 hours and believe it or not, bleach is actually an effective disinfectant to help rid the presence of mould when usedsafely.

3. Prioritise protective gear

If you have endured a flood or are undertaking construction work to improve your space, be mindful of the environmental effects that surround repairing damaged building materials and be vigilant in implementing protective gear to avoid serious health damage.

4. Know your space and technology

Do not rely on carbon dioxide sensors to measure air quality, understand the population density of the space and that it is not overcrowded, check up on the state of furniture in the room and wear masks when congregating closely within a room, as density and distance always matters.

There are many pollutants that may negatively impact the air quality indoors, even in places we perceive as typically ‘clean’ like an office environment. As we can’t physically see poor air quality, its importance is often unknown or not regulated.

It can often become a difficult task to employ these safe practices for quality air control, with many environments offering minimal or even no natural ventilation options. However, technology has graced us with the innovation of air purifiers. Those which are correctly fitted with the appropriate high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can lower the concentration of airborne particles (including those containing viruses). Air purifiers can be useful additions in areas with poor ventilation when reducing transmission of airborne infections.

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