Covid-19, the air we breathe in stores could carry the virus
During the pandemic of COVID-19, supermarkets and shops have added a number of safety functions. Workers were asked to wear masks, more recently, also to the majority of customers. But most still have to deal with what could be another important security measure: changes to systems that keep stores hot and cold and that they can potentially do recirculate the air carrying the virus that employees and customers breathe alike.
Now, as the virus continues to tear the country apart with little sign of abating, the air in the shops is subjected to more careful control. Some epidemiologists, engineers and union leaders are hoping that change the air filtration – a long-term intervention requiring greater financial investment – in stores during the pandemic will help protect against the spread of the coronavirusas well as from indoor air pollution, not to mention any future pathogens present in the air.
In early July, after that the World Health Organization published a report acknowledging that the virus could be spread through the air in crowded indoor spaces, upgrading air filters in stores has become a bigger goal for trade unions and other industrial groups.
How to prevent the spread of Covid-19 indoors
To limit the spread of the virus within the air, some epidemiologists, biologists and engineers say stores should use a MERV 13 or higher filter in their ventilation systems. MERV stands for “minimum reporting efficiency value” and is how filters are evaluated in their ability to trap tiny particles. The high efficiency filters in the MERV range from 13 to 16 they are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, research laboratories and other places where filtration is important.
Better filtration in stores would represent “An additional level” of protection for workers. Grocery and retail stores can host the spread of Covid-19 because they are indoors and often crowded. Indoor spaces are riskier than outdoor spaces because it can be more difficult to keep people at least 2 meters away e ventilation is not as good as outdoor ventilationstates the CDC.
“The risk of exposure to respiratory pathogens in an enclosed environment is always greater than in an open environment,” he said. Erin Sorrell, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Georgetown University. Some chains have already started updating their filters. “In light of Covid-19 and the latest CDC guidelines, we are also upgrading to hospital filtration systems of MERV 13 or higher where technically possible,” said a spokesperson for the German supermarket chain. Lidlwhich has about 100 stores in the United States.
Beware of tiny virus droplets in the air
Covid-19 is thought to spread primarily from person to person, “primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks,” according to the CDC. But some scientists have prompted health agencies to recognize the potential airborne transmission of the coronavirus through tiny droplets of viruses that spray from our mouth, aerosolize and then remain in the air.
In early July, 239 scientists wrote an open letter saying public health officials were ignoring these tiny virus droplets. as a probable means of transmission. Days after the letter was released, WHO released a report stating that airborne transmission of the coronavirus through the air “Cannot be ruled out” in some indoor environments. “Aerosols are very small particles usually less than 5 microns in diameter. MERV filters 13 and above can trap such small particles, ”said Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University.
New protection, new costs
Costs to upgrade filtration systems may not be exorbitant for individual storesbut replace them in hundreds of stores it could be expensive for the chains. Prices vary by region and manufacturer, and filtration experts said the increased demand for filters during the pandemic caused an increase in prices.
The National Retail Federation, an advocacy group for the retail sector, also is paying more attention to air filtration. Last week he held an informative webinar for companies on filtration systems. Building environment experts are hoping the filtration efforts that shops and other buildings implement during the coronavirus they will have an impact long after this pandemic ends.
“We hope that a high standard of air will be in place even after vaccines and treatment solutions are available,” a group of more than 600 engineers and architects wrote to WHO last week. “Indoor and outdoor air pollution has been a persistent problem for decades, especially for the most vulnerable populations”.