How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimised?

Lidia Morawska, Julian W. Tang, William Bahnfleth, Philomena M. Bluyssen, Atze Boerstra, Giorgio Buonanno, Junji Cao, Stephanie Dancer, Andres Floto, Francesco Franchimon, Charles Haworth, Jaap Hogeling, Christina Isaxon, Jose L. Jimenez, Jarek Kurnitski, Yuguo Li, Marcel Loomans, Guy Marks, Linsey C. Marr, Livio MazzarellaArsen Krikor Melikov, Shelly Miller, Donald K. Milton, William Nazaroff, Peter V. Nielsen, Catherine Noakes, Jordan Peccia, Xavier Querol, Chandra Sekhar, Olli Seppänen, Shin ichi Tanabe, Raymond Tellier, Kwok Wai Tham, Pawel Wargocki, Aneta Wierzbicka, Maosheng Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the rapid rise in COVID-19 illnesses and deaths globally, and notwithstanding recommended precautions, questions are voiced about routes of transmission for this pandemic disease. Inhaling small airborne droplets is probable as a third route of infection, in addition to more widely recognized transmission via larger respiratory droplets and direct contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces. While uncertainties remain regarding the relative contributions of the different transmission pathways, we argue that existing evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant engineering controls targeting airborne transmission as part of an overall strategy to limit infection risk indoors. Appropriate building engineering controls include sufficient and effective ventilation, possibly enhanced by particle filtration and air disinfection, avoiding air recirculation and avoiding overcrowding. Often, such measures can be easily implemented and without much cost, but if only they are recognised as significant in contributing to infection control goals. We believe that the use of engineering controls in public buildings, including hospitals, shops, offices, schools, kindergartens, libraries, restaurants, cruise ships, elevators, conference rooms or public transport, in parallel with effective application of other controls (including isolation and quarantine, social distancing and hand hygiene), would be an additional important measure globally to reduce the likelihood of transmission and thereby protect healthcare workers, patients and the general public.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105832
JournalEnvironment International
Volume142
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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