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June 29, 2020

Why It Is Important To Have Good Indoor Air Quality Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Why It Is Important To Have Good Indoor Air Quality Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

When news of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broke, it has become a “new normal” for people to wear face masks outdoors and indoors. Since COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, this prompted the government to implement lockdowns, ordering citizens to stay inside their homes to curb the spread of the virus.

With the enhanced community quarantine lowered to general community quarantine (GCQ), people are slowly easing back to the outside world. But some people fear that going outside would mean that they are more likely to be infected by the coronavirus. However, studies found that the quality of air indoors is just as hazardous — if not more — than air from the outside. 

How poor indoor air quality affects your health

Good respiratory health is essential for our bodies to be able to fight COVID-19. Nowadays, most people spend around 90 percent of their time indoors, thinking that they’re safer from air pollution and viruses. 

Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, related to the health and comfort of its occupants. Research has found that IAQ is two to five times worse than outdoor air quality.

Indoor air pollution can come from outside sources such as major roads and freeways, and poorly designed building ventilation, and has been linked to illnesses, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. The World Health Organization calls this “sick building syndrome (SBS).” Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or years later. 

Addressing SBS and IAQ

In Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) webinar titled, “Let’s clear the air: Indoor air quality in the new normal,” Wilfredo R. Legaspi, general manager for HVAC, Lighting, and Auxiliaries of MSERV, showed the importance of good indoor air quality by explaining the impact of SBS to one’s health. 

MSERV is a fully owned subsidiary of Meralco. It provides energy services and solutions, focused on electro-mechanical engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services, as well as energy-efficiency and urban services.

Legaspi shared that SBS could lead to higher healthcare costs, more absences, and decreased productivity of employees. Another implication is that heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment may not work as efficiently, leading to higher energy costs and increased risk of equipment breakdown.

He also revealed other issues associated with SBS, such as poor ventilation, biological contaminants, chemical contaminants, inadequate lighting, bad acoustics, and poor ergonomics. Poor ventilation is caused by a lack of outdoor air, inefficient HVAC design and poor HVAC maintenance. Because a lot of outdoor air gets trapped indoors, airborne biological contaminants may also be present such as viruses, bacteria, molds and pollen, and chemical contaminants like volatile organic compounds, radon gas, carbon monoxide or dioxide, and particulate matter. COVID-19 is an example of a biological contaminant. 

How to improve indoor air quality

Fortunately, MSERV provides solutions to resolve these concerns and many others. But there are other ways you can do to help improve the IAQ in your building or homes. 

  1. Keep areas clean. Observing good indoor hygiene can cut down dust and mold. Clear clutter because it traps and holds dust and other pathogens. If your space has carpets or is carpeted, make sure to have this vacuumed at least once or twice a week with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Wash filter regularly. Mop floors with water only. Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. Microfiber mops capture more dust and dirt than traditional mops. 
  2. Place a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of dust, dirt and even chemicals on their shoes. A door mat reduces the number of pathogens from entering rooms. Disinfecting mats are popular items now. 
  3. Invest in an air purifier. These devices can help capture some of the irritants or pathogens that may trigger symptoms of SBS. 
  4. Keep plants indoors. If air purifiers are too expensive, consider bringing in plants that act as air purifiers. Space agency NASA recommends 12 air-purifying houseplants such as money plant, spider plant and aloe vera. 
  5. Let the fresh air in. Open windows from time to time, to let fresh air move into the house. 
  6. Use natural ingredients as room fragrance. 

To learn more about MSERV and its services, contact your Meralco Relationship Manager or email customercare@meralco.com.ph, click this link to watch/listen to the webinar recording, or download the presentation.

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