Indoor air cleaning strategies are key to reducing the spread of viruses

Newswise – along with vaccines, masks and tests, Indoor air hygiene and building engineering controls will be key factors in slowing the spread of highly contagious airborne variants of COVID-19.

In a recent review in the magazine indoor airIn this article, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Laboratory) presented a comprehensive state-of-the-art review of several key strategies to reduce the risk of airborne infections using building controls–ventilation, filtration, airflow management, and disinfection by germicidal ultraviolet (UV) rays.

“We found strong evidence that internal environmental controls can be effective against transmission. Implementing building controls effectively and at scale while taking into account operational challenges and energy costs is critical to supporting personal activities in our schools, offices, and species,” said Renji Chan, a researcher at Berkeley Lab. Another of the interior spaces where people congregate.

Chan and colleagues used computer simulations to demonstrate how various modifications to building control affected transmission hazards at near levels, at the room level, and at the building level. Respiratory aerosols, which can carry viruses, mix throughout the room within minutes; However, they can be significantly removed from the room by ventilation or filtering the air inside the room, reducing exposure. In addition to engineering controls, maintaining even 2-3 feet of personal space greatly reduces the possibility of direct person-to-person transmission.

Effective building controls can take many forms. Ventilation can be achieved by opening windows and increasing the flow of outside air through the HVAC system. Filtration may include upgrading HVAC filters to a higher efficiency rating or using stand-alone or portable air cleaners. The entire room can be disinfected at reasonable cost through the use of germicidal UV light, which is currently insufficiently used but was previously effective in stopping the spread of measles during school outbreaks.

“These viruses are transported in respiratory fluid particles that are invisible to the naked eye, which can remain suspended in the air for minutes to hours, and can be inhaled by others sharing air in an indoor space,” said project environmental health epidemiologist Jacob Bueno. De Mesquita. “The key is to reduce exposure to the virus by inhalation. Even if viral exposure cannot be completely eliminated, reducing exposure may help reduce the risk of infection or the severity of any potential illness.”

The research was primarily supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.


Founded in 1931 on the belief that the best scientific challenges are to be tackled by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Its scientists have won 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable environmental and energy solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter and the universe. Scientists from all over the world rely on the laboratory’s facilities for their discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multi-program national laboratory, operated by the University of California to the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the website