The health and economic effects brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in individuals and businesses focusing more closely on health and sanitation. More people are keeping large quantities of hand sanitizers for future use, avoiding unnecessary travel, preferring to do work at home, and doing everything to protect themselves against flu. While the mentioned practices are of great help, we must also not forget that air quality also contributes to infections, thus, being able to keep some indoor air quality factors in its optimal state can help us remain germ and infection-free. 

In this blog, we will be sharing with you the three main indoor air quality factors that when not controlled, can weaken your body’s ability to fight diseases and increase your vulnerability to viruses and infections. 

Low temperature levels

Many people associate cold weather with flu. But in reality, the weather is not directly responsible for making people sick, it is the viruses that cause flu spreading more easily in lower temperatures. 

Rhinoviruses are the leading cause and are responsible for around half of all colds and cold-like diseases. Research reveals that Rhinoviruses are able to survive and spread more efficiently in temperatures lower than 37°C, or 98.6°F, the average human body temperature. Additionally, the temperature inside the nasal cavity which is approximately 33°C or 91.4°F makes it an ideal ground for Rhinoviruses to breed and accumulate. 

Rhinoviruses commonly spread through direct personal contact or by inhaling small droplets in the air, these droplets are called aerosols. Once inside the body, the rhinovirus fastens itself to the cells inside the nasal passages. It then multiplies, spreads more virus particles in the upper respiratory tract, and leads to common colds. 

Symptoms of common colds include: 

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • High body temperature
  • Headache
  • Body pain
  • Inability to taste and smell properly

Rhinoviruses can not only lead to colds, it can also cause more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, which occurs in people with weaker immune systems. 

Low humidity levels

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. It generally comes from water evaporating from lakes, seas and oceans. Indoors, humidity can enter through leaky pipes and cracks, rising damp, and even breathing. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency or US EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity levels between 30% to lower than 60%, if possible. Building health and sustainability certification bodies have also included humidity control as part of their indoor air quality requirements.

Humidity is one of the top indoor air quality factors that contribute to virus infections.  When humidity level is too low, it means that there is a very small amount of water vapor in the air. This can not only result in dry and irritated skin, it can also substantially increase the risk of cold, flu, and other infections. Areas with relative humidity that is below the recommended level  can cause infective aerosols to lose their mass quickly through evaporation, resulting in these aerosols to stay and float in the air for an increased period of time. So, when someone sneezes, the droplets being released dry out but the viruses remain, float in the air, find their way inside your respiratory tract. 

High levels of particulate matter

Particulate matter (PM) refers to various particles that are present in the air. These consist of soot, dust, liquid droplets, smoke, and solid fragments. Vehicle exhaust, emissions from factories, construction activities, and road dust are the main sources of particulate matter outdoors. Indoors, PM is generated by copying machines, printers, and may also originate from the outdoors since PM can be easily carried away by wind and enter built environments through windows, doors, and leaks.  

There is no healthy level of particulate matter, but keeping it under 15 µg/m³ can keep you away from health problems. Studies show that continuous exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter can cause chronic airway inflammation and can increase your risk of developing respiratory infections which can lead to occupant discomfort. In workplaces, it may result in employee dissatisfaction and increased sickness-related leaves.

Preventing the risk of infection by managing indoor air quality

It will take a very long and challenging journey before we could completely make the air outdoors clean, breathable, and virus-free. But, the good thing is that there are steps that we can take to keep ourselves protected and healthy indoors. One of these steps is monitoring indoor air quality. 

uHoo Aura is the most comprehensive indoor environmental quality monitoring solution for workplaces and commercial built environments. Embedded with at least 13 indoor air quality sensors, business leaders, building owners, and occupants are able to determine the presence and levels of the above air quality factors that contribute to infections. Aside from humidity, temperature, and particulate matter, uHoo Aura can also monitor the levels of air pressure, formaldehyde, some types of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, light, and sound. 

On top of the 13 indoor air quality sensors, uHoo Aura is upgradeable to measure two more sensors namely nitrogen dioxide and ozone or choose one among sulfur dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia, depending on their specific industries and/or requirements.

The device also comes with a Virus Index feature the world’s first patented real-time assessment on the risk of viruses dwelling in built environments. The uHoo Virus Index uses a 10-point scoring system divided into four categories: 1-3 (Good), 4-6 (Mild), 7-8 (Bad), and 9-10 (Severe). 

All the real-time data, historical trends, and analytics can be viewed and managed using the uHoo Business dashboard which can be accessed via a computer and a mobile app, anytime and anywhere. By having the right data on the factors affecting indoor air quality, you can take effective measures and data-driven decisions to mitigate the risk of infection before it could spread throughout your workplace, harm your people, and damage your business’ performance. 

Learn more about the uHoo aura device and how it can help you take control of your indoor environment.

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