Americans are worried about their health and safety when returning to work, especially the cleanliness of indoor air at their workplace, according to a new study by Aeroseal, LLC. The study includes insights from 710 respondents and explores how, in light of COVID-19, Americans feel about their eventual return to the workplace. A majority of survey participants, who work in a range of environments including large and small offices, hospitals, schools, retail, and other small business spaces, believe their workplace’s indoor air quality is the most important component in protecting their health and safety.
Survey respondents are, however, skeptical whether that quality, or cleanliness, will exist at work – 89% report that they believe the air in their homes is cleaner than at work. In fact, they are more concerned with the cleanliness of the air at work than they are with the cleanliness of surfaces in bathrooms, meeting rooms, and elevators.
“It’s understandable that Americans are worried about indoor air quality,” says Dr. Mark P. Modera, Director of the UC-Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, and advisor to Aeroseal. “Air is not something they can see or easily clean, like your hands, a doorknob, or a table. Even before COVID-19, we were spending 90% of our time indoors, so indoor air quality is an important issue.”
Key findings from the study include the following:
As these concerns come to light, scientists are stressing the importance of proper building ventilation in preventing the spread of COVID-19, citing it is as important as social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands regularly. A building’s HVAC system – the air conditioner, furnace, and ducts – must be working properly to prevent the spread.
The HVAC system cannot establish proper airflow and ventilation with leaky ducts. And according to the Department of Energy, the majority of ductwork leak. Leaky ducts take longer to remove contaminated air from a room. And by staying in the room longer than it might otherwise, this contaminated air increases the risk of an infection spreading.