“That CCC undertake a county wide public awareness campaign around the extremely significant impact that better indoor air quality, through ventilation & low-cost filtration, in our homes, businesses and public buildings has in reducing the spread of Covid 19.
Furthermore that CCC forward the information used to support this awareness campaign, and any templates created, to all other local authorities to build awareness at a national level of the impact better indoor air quality has in reducing the spread of COVID 19.”
Cllr. Cillian Murphy MSc
Firstly I would like to acknowledge that yes, of course, the HSE are the competent authority in Ireland to provide us with medical advice regarding the spread of Covid; to date this has almost exclusively revolved around 1) washing our hands, 2) social distancing and 3) wearing masks.
But, as time has moved on, our knowledge as to how this disease spreads is expanding, and one is an undertanding of the impact ventilation and indoor air quality has on mitigating the spread of the virus.
On the 29 July 2020 The World Health Organisation stated “Ventilation is an important factor in preventing the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading indoors”, that all workplaces, schools and tourist accommodations, should have fresh, clean air, with an increased ventilation rate and included a number of recommendations to improve indoor ventilation.
On Oct 28 The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stated “C19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission… under certain conditions, and these transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation” it recommended “ensuring indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible. In general, being outdoors and in spaces with good ventilation reduces the risk of exposure to infectious respiratory droplets”
Last month, The European Centre for Disease Control issued a technical document to healthcare providers such as GP, dentists and pharmacies, recommendations included “increasing the number of air exchanges per hour will decrease the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in closed spaces”
HSE advice has also changed, acknowledging recently that airborne transmission happens in some circumstances and “to protect yourself, keep indoor spaces well ventilated by opening windows & doors”
A conclusion from another HSE guidance document for ‘non healthcare building ventilation during COVID 19’, on Oct 14 was “COVID-19 outbreaks are more commonly associated with crowded indoor spaces, and that poor ventilation may increase the risk of transmission in such settings by facilitating the spread of droplets over longer distances” and went on to recommend a number of interventions on improving indoor air quality, including increased air flow, installing air quality monitors and keeping ventilation systems running at all times.
This local authority, and all the others, have been instrumental, especially at a local level, in delivering the awareness campaign, based on HSE recommended interventions, designed to mitgate the spread of Covid 19.
So far from asking CCC to do a solo run here without expert medical advice, I’m simply asking they give equal weighting to this new advice from the HSE, and others WHO, CDC, ECDC, in our future awareness campaigns to the communities in our care around ventilation, and indoor air quality, and its role in reducing the spread of C19.
And while the HSE are the competent authority as to what medical steps we should take to mitigate the spread of C19, there are other competent authorities who are best placed to inform us as to how this might be done, including some within our own council staff resources, such as environmental health experts, architects and engineers, its important we listen to those too, to ensure a holistic approach to controlling the spread of C19 and indeed many of the other respiratory diseases becoming more prevalent, while simultaneously allowing us live normally with it.
Completely locking down the country every 5/6 months is a totally unsustainable way of living with this virus, from a social or economic perspective. If increased ventilation and improved air quality in our schools, offices, pubs, restaurants etc is the price of some sort of normalcy, then we should be proactive in its delivery, it’s ultimately far more cost effective than paying them all to be closed, not to mention its worthwhile in its own right from a health and wellbeing perspective.
CO2 is a proxy for air quality so monitoring it can be done through using CO2 monitors at a cost of ~€150, cleaning the air can be done using air purification fans, cost ~€500 for one suitable for 50sq m room… these are reasonable costs and I’m pretty sure most businesses would be prepared to cover them if it meant being able to open, albeit with lower customer levels, and time limits.