Why room air hygiene should also be given priority after Corona

The Corona pandemic has abruptly brought home to us how air in indoor spaces is often contaminated and dangerous to health. Air purifiers protect us from viruses, fine dust, mould spores and other airborne contaminants that will continue to affect our health and well-being after the current pandemic has been contained.

Risk groups, in particular, profit from more hygienic room air

Every day, an adult human breathes in at least 10,000 litres of air. Most of this takes place indoors, where he or she spends 90% of their time. Groups with a high sensitivity to air pollution, in particular, such as young children, senior citizens, and people with cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases, spend an above-average amount of time indoors. Nonetheless, indoor air, e.g. at the workplace or in the home, is two to five times more contaminated with harmful substances than "fresh air".

The coronavirus has made very clear the effect that air has on our physical well-bring and our health. After the Corona pandemic has been contained, indoor air and its purity should therefore continue to be given a high priority. With air filter devices, we can decide which substances enter our bodies and which end up in filters.

Viruses lead to high seasonal infection rates

There are 200 types of cold and flu viruses alone, and several distinct virus families, for example, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, influenza viruses and adenoviruses. They have varying degrees of resistance against external influences such as temperature, humidity and direct sunlight. For this reason, many of the pathogens such as flu and noroviruses occur cyclically, i.e., during an annually recurring season. The seasonality of viruses differs regionally. In the northern hemisphere, respiratory infectious diseases occur more frequently in autumn and winter. In Germany during an influenza wave, approximately 5% to 20% of the population get infected with the virus.

In addition to contaminated surfaces such as door handles, the main route of transmission for many pathogens is air. They spread either in large droplets, which can cause infection on contact with mucous membranes, or in aerosols. Due to their small size of less than 5 micrometers, aerosols do not immediately fall to the ground. Instead, they float in the room air, move to other rooms when air is swirled or via air movements, and can still be dangerous hours later. Every person releases germs into the air around them: With just one sneeze, an infected person hurls approximately 40,000 particles into the air. When he or she coughs, the number is 710, and for each word spoken, 36. Air filter devices separate these particles from the room air and reduce the risk of infection via airborne viruses, especially in rooms where there are a lot of people. Many doctors' practices therefore install air filter devices during cold and flu season so that patients do not infect each other. Air purifiers can also protect employees from infection in work areas, such as control rooms, during the cold and flu season.

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The smaller the fine dust, the deeper it penetrates into the respiratory tract.

Fine dust in indoor air can also pose a health hazard. It is generated in combustion processes either directly, e.g., in a power plant, a heating system or in motor traffic (primary fine dust), or as a product of gaseous precursor chemicals such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides (secondary fine dust). In big cities, fine dust pollution is therefore particularly high, especially at busy intersections. Fine dust is categorized based on its size:

PM (Particulate Matter) 10 has an aerodynamic diameter of maximum 10 micrometres.

PM 2.5 with a maximum diameter of 2.5 micrometres reaches the bronchi and alveoli.

PM 0.1 refers to ultra-fine dust with a diameter of less than 0.1 micrometres, which can penetrate into the lung tissue and the bloodstream.

The smaller the fine dust, the more dangerous it is for humans. Particles that settle in the bronchia are usually quickly transported out of the lungs again. In the alveoli, on the other hand, fine dust can remain for months or years, and has a half-life of 400 days. As well as milder symptoms such as irritation of the mucous membranes, fine dust can trigger or aggravate serious diseases, e.g., asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer.

Fine dust pollution is falling steadily in Germany, but has not yet reached a level where it is safe for health On the contrary: The Federal Environment Agency estimates that from 2007 to 2015, an annual average of around 45,000 people died prematurely due to fine dust-related health damage. Environmental epidemiological studies also found that people in Europe die an average of 8.6 months earlier due to exposure to PM 2.5 fine dust. With the help of special fine dust filters, air filter devices can counteract the health risks posed by fine dust. Even in work areas with high levels of fine dust, for example, on a busy road or near industrial combustion processes, a high level of indoor air hygiene can be achieved in this way.

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Energy-efficient houses prevent "natural draughts"

Many air pollutants are "introduced" into indoor areas. Viruses and bacteria are carried in by people, while fine dust enters through open windows. Contaminants are also secreted in the indoor areas themselves. For example, synthetic building materials, pesticides or personal and indoor care products release harmful substances into the ambient air. Houses are also becoming increasingly energy-efficient, so there is no longer a natural draught, and the chemical vapours remain in the indoor air.

Mould irritates the mucous membranes, can trigger respiratory diseases and manifests itself in symptoms such as headaches, difficulty concentrating and feelings of exhaustion. Even without obvious mould infestation, the indoor air can be contaminated with spores. Pet hair and pet skin particles as well as pollen can trigger allergies, lead to coughing and sneezing, or cause respiratory difficulties. Air filter devices capture these contaminants and reduce the risk of adverse health effects. However, the only long-term solution is to tackle the source of the air pollution (e.g. by removing the mould, using non-toxic cleaning products).

Air filter devices are proving their worth during the Corona pandemic by slowing down the incidence of infection in rooms that have many people. In this extreme situation, they show what they can also do in normal times: Clean indoor air of impurities, in this way protecting the health of those who spend time indoors. On top of this, a high level of indoor air hygiene increases the sense of well-being. For example, more research is now being done on the relationship between indoor air purity and the performance of school-children and office workers.

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