Improving Ventilation and Air Quality After COVID-19

Evelyn Long

Feb 5, 2021

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We all know that indoor air quality can impact health and even productivity. You probably remember your grandmother throwing open the windows in the spring to “air the house out” and have heard people say they don’t feel well and are going for some fresh air. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the more people there are in an indoor environment, the more outdoor air and ventilation you need. Not only does the fresh air help dispel some of the contaminated aerosol particles, but the addition of harsh cleaning chemicals could pollute indoor air as well. 

If you’ve experienced COVID-19, you’ll want to clear your home or office space of any lasting impact and start fresh. Here are some tips for improving ventilation and air quality after COVID-19.

1. Open the Windows

One of the simplest ways to bring in outside air is by opening up windows. However, you also need to ensure a good flow of air in and out of the building. So, you might open two windows on opposite sides of the building to create cross-flow. Or, you could open a door and use a screen to keep bugs out. 

If your home has two stories, open a window on the top floor and the opposite side of the house, one on the bottom floor. For double-hung windows, open the top of one window and the bottom of the other. 

2. Increase Filtration

HVAC systems come with filters, but how extensive the filtration is depends on the unit you have and the type of filter used. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends upgrading filters as a simple solution. They also offer guidelines for different types of buildings, including offices and hospitals. 

Running your HVAC system filters the air as it circulates through the house. Reduce airborne contaminants by running the system fan longer or even when there is no heating or cooling. Make sure you swap your filter regularly and upgrade to the highest-rated filter your system can use. 

3. Use Fans

Fans can help circulate air in a room, but you can also set them in front of a window to pull in outside air. Electric fans are particularly useful if you aren’t getting a lot of cross-ventilation with your open windows or when there is no breeze. Place one fan to draw air in and the other to push it out another window.

One word of caution: know the outdoor air quality. It isn’t helpful to pull in outside air if pollutants or pollen is high that day. 

4. Add a Swamp Cooler

Evaporative coolers help humidify the air. If you live in a dry climate or the weather isn’t humid, these coolers can be purchased as a portable unit and increase outdoor air ventilation. As with fans, avoid using if air pollution outside is particularly high. 

5. Invest in an Air Purifier

While there is some debate on how effective air purifiers are for improving indoor air quality, anything you can do to improve the circulation of stale air and bring in fresh outside air is helpful. 

While you can’t rely solely on a purifier to clean the air, it can be part of a larger plan to keep the people in your home safe and protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19. Never point the airflow at someone. Make sure it is in an out of the way location where it circulates air without blowing directly on people.

6. Reduce Toxic Contaminants

One issue with COVID-19 is that people are using harsher cleaning supplies to try to eradicate the virus. Cleaning products put pollutants into the air, and everyone breathes the chemicals. One way you can improve indoor air quality is by choosing natural products. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released some cleaning guidelines to protect from coronavirus. Trusty soap and water are the first lines of defense. In addition, the EPA listed several green products in their approved list and states those with Thymol (based on thyme plant) kill the bug. 

Get Outside

What if you work in an office building or live in an apartment and have little control over the ventilation and air quality after COVID-19? If you can’t work from home or improve ventilation in your environment, at least get outside during the day. Take a short walk around the block or eat your lunch on the rooftop. Getting outdoors and away from the pollutants indoors may do more for your spiritual, mental and physical well-being than you might imagine. You’ll also get vitamin D from the sun, which can ramp up your immune system and further protect you from the virus.

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