COVID-19 Spread through Tiny Aerosol Particles Inside? What We Know Now

How many COVID-19 virus particles exist indoors? The jury’s still out on the aerosol spread rate.

The question remains: Does COVID 19 Spread through Tiny Aerosol Particles Inside?

It may be years before the science confirms how COVID-19 is most readily spread. EEI takes a conservative position because we still have so much to learn about the virus. We believe that treating COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease should be an important overall health and safety strategy.

Other modes for transmitting the virus, such as direct contact with droplets, have a higher probability for transmitting the virus. Therefore, a strong argument exists on breaking the direct transmission path by cleaning, hand washing, distancing, and masks.

What do medical experts say?

Transmission more indirectly via the air we breathe takes more exposure time due to a lower concentration of virus. Medical experts believe that the virus may be diluted by distance and time. That is why outdoor exposure is believed to be safer than indoors.  A few documented cases exist in which the virus appears to have been transmitted via airborne particles indoors. This possibility for transmission gives us concern to airborne transmission in workplaces, schools, and other locations were people may be exposed to infected air over a period of time.

What do organizations say?

CDC and WHO both cite available data that the primary transmission route for the virus is from respiratory droplets and direct contact. But they recognize that medical procedures that create an aerosol warrant the consideration of addressing the airborne transmission of the virus.

ASHRAE published the following statement regarding airborne exposure: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

As statements from the CDC, WHO, and ASHRAE support this view, facility managers can take action. They should continue to review operational and control of HVAC systems in order to protect the health of indoors occupants.

As EEI continues to research strategies regarding COVID-19 prevention in facilities, we’re also sharing new resources as they become available. This article from Scientific American does a nice a job to explore the back and forth of the question.

What can be done now?

Moving forward, we’re assisting facilities that need assessments and modification to help us all get back to work safely. EEI in partnership with Intertek offers a complete Facility Health Management (FHM) solution that addresses a multi-phased approach for the indoor environment.

Intertek’s Protek Service is a whole facility program strategy to ensure environmental health, safety, and wellness for occupants which includes an optional Facility Compliance Certification Listing.