COVID-19 and the Elderly

 

 

 

Health officials are advising all of us to stay home to reduce the risk of infection from the corona pandemic. This is most important to the elderly since statistics show that we are the most vulnerable group. Since we will be spending more time at home, now it is more important than ever to have clean air indoors. We will discuss two key elements for keeping our indoor air safe.

– AIR CLEANERS

– VENTILATION

What the Scientists tell us

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that ” according to current evidence, COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes ” [1].

These droplets are particles between 5 and 10 microns. ( 1 micron = .000001 m )

– AIR CLEANERS

Air cleaners with HEPA filters can remove particles larger than .3 microns. Therefore, it appears that Air Cleaners with HEPA filters could provide a virus free air environment. It has been noted that the size of the COVID-19 virus is only .12 microns and therefore it could not be removed with the HEPA filters. However, the virus in the air would normally be attached to a dust particle with total particle size greater than .3 microns. So it is probable that Air Cleaners, with HEPA filters , can be of help in our fight against this pandemic. [2]

– VENTILATION

Notwithstanding the report of the WHO, recent studies show that the virus could, under special conditions, remain in the air in aerosol form. These ultra small particles are the most dangerous to our health since they can easily penetrate our lungs and blood vessels. Another tool in our arsenal against the pandemic is simply ventilation that would remove the aerosol particles present in  indoor air.

In hospitals, room ventilation will clear aerosols from the air fairly quickly. Studies show that one air exchange removes approximately 63% of the viral load present in the air. After five air exchanges the viral load is only less than 1% of the original load. Ventilation standards in England Hospitals require six air exchanges per hour. Five air exchanges would take 50 minutes. Therefore, 99% of any new viral load introduced in a hospital room would be removed within 50 minutes.[3]

Of course in our homes the ventilation is typically lower. The typical air change rates measured in US homes range from .5 to 2.2 air exchanges per hour.[4]

As an example a ventilation rate of 2 exchanges per hour would remove any new viral load in 150 minutes.

Conclusion

Since the COVID-19 virus is a new virus still being studied we do not know for certain all the modes of transmission. According to the WHO it is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets and surface contact. However, there is some empirical evidence that it could also be transmitted in aerosol form in which case the virus could be floating in air for extended periods of time. To be safe we can assume that this mode of transmission may also occur.
Therefore, to maintain clean and healthy indoor air we should install Air Cleaners with HEPA Filters and also upgrade our ventilation systems if possible.


Carlos
References

[1] World Health Organization – Modes of Transmission of virus causing COVID-19 ; implication for IPC precaution recommendations. 29 March 2020

[2] https://improvingindoorairquality.com/healthrisks

[3] T.M. Cook – Personal protective equipment during the corona virus disease (COVID)2019 pandemic- a narrative review- 04 April 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/anae.15071

[4] https://improvingindoorairquality.com/ventilation

 

4 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the Elderly

  1. We have an elderly parent living with us and both work outside the home.  I’m in an office which I really don’t know if the air is circulated properly.  We have an ac unit does that help? or does that just blow the virus around more.  No one is wearing masks which I think really they should be.  When getting home we wash our hands and clothing and physical distance from our parent, but we are probably wise to get an air cleaner as well.  Thanks for your article I will be passing it on to a few people.  

    1. Thank you for your comment. In reference to your question about the air conditioning. The air conditioning helps circulate the air so it is good as long as it includes a HEPA filter to remove the virus size particles. 

  2. Hello there! this is an amazing review you have got here. I am sure these quality information in this post will be beneficial to anyone who come across it. I have saved this post so I can go over it again and also forward it to my grand mom’s maid,  I am sure she will be happy for this!

  3. Hey Carlos, thank you very much for this post. I have been reading quite a lot recently about COVID-19, since my wife seemed to have some symptoms (but thankfully it wasn’t COVID because that was a month ago). I didn’t know air cleaners with HEPA filters were so helpful, so I’m considering one for us. 

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