Ventilation Resources

10 September 2021

There are a number of organisations and experts providing insights and advice about the importance of natural and mechanical ventilation within buildings in relation to the COVID-19 response.

OzSAGE – Ventilation and Vaccine-Plus

OzSAGE is “a multi-disciplinary network of Australian experts from a broad range of sectors relevant to the wellbeing of the Australian population during and after the COVID-19 pandemic”. The group first met on 16 August. Members have frontline roles in public health, emergency medicine, mental health, the built environment, engineering, communications, law and public policy, among others. Professor Lidia Morawska from QUT’s School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences is on the OzSAFE Executive, specialising in ventilation and safe air.

The group aims to provide independent advice on public health, health systems and other policy matters relevant to COVID-19 control, including improving air quality in buildings and other preventative measures.

The group’s Ventilation and Vaccine-Plus page describes ventilation as the “key to our exit strategy”, with short-term needs for schools and workplaces, and longer term urban design solutions needed for our post-COVID world.

OzSAGE Safe Indoor Air (Ventilation) Recommendations

An OzSAGE Safe Indoor Air Working Group (chaired by Geoff Hanmer) has developed some clear, concise recommendations and advice, including general principles of natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation, and some suggested do’s and don’ts. The document also has sections on wall-mounted air-conditioning systems and CO2 monitoring.

ISAG Insight: The Role of Aerosol Transmission & Ventilation in The Spread of COVID-19

Assistant Professor Orla Hegarty (School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, UCD) and Professor John Wenger (School of Chemistry and Environmental Research Institute, UCC) talk about the role of aerosol transmission and ventilation in the spread of COVID-19.

Assistant Professor Orla Hegarty has written on the importance of ventilation in the suppression of pandemic through lowering the risks with ‘healthy’ rather than ‘sick’ buildings. (See from 25.00 in video for her presentation.)

The speakers set out some possible solutions that different sectors and policy makers should explore in mapping future strategies to aid the active suppression of the virus in both community contexts and workplace settings.

WHO Roadmap to improve and ensure good indoor ventilation in the context of COVID-19

In March 2021, the World Health Organization published a roadmap to improving indoor ventilation. This roadmap aims to define the key questions users should consider to assess indoor ventilation and the major steps needed to reach recommended ventilation levels or simply improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in  order to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. The roadmap is divided into three settings – health care, nonresidential and residential spaces – and takes into account different ventilation systems (mechanical or natural). It also includes recommendations on how to assess and measure the different parameters, specifically in health care, non-residential and residential settings whenever a person is under home care or home quarantine.

A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection (Lidia Morawska et al)

An international team of experts led by QUT’s Lidia Morawska authored a report (May 2021) that suggested we need a paradigm shift in how we view and address the transmission of respiratory infections to protect against unnecessary suffering and economic losses. “There is great disparity in the way we think about and address different sources of environmental infection. Governments have for decades promulgated a large amount of legislation and invested heavily in food safety, sanitation, and drinking water for public health purposes. In contrast, airborne pathogens and respiratory infections, whether seasonal influenza or COVID-19, are addressed fairly weakly, if at all, in terms of regulations, standards, and building design and operation, pertaining to the air we breathe.” The report calls for a profound paradigm shift that prioritises healthy buildings, with comprehensive indoor air quality and ventilation standards implemented and enforced.

FAQs on Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission

A comprehensive google doc providing information to the general public about how to prevent aerosol transmission of COVID-19. This document includes extensive sections on ventilation, air quality, filtering and ‘air cleaning’. Contributors include scientists and engineers with many years of collective research experience related to indoor air quality, aerosol science, aerosol disease transmission, and engineered control systems for aerosols. These FAQs are regularly updated and represent the best understanding at the time.

Holt Architects simulating COVID spread

The following two-minute video by Holt Architects shows how the virus can spread indoors.