A Virus, A Vaccine, and An Invisible Killer
December 22, 2020
After nearly a year, the pandemic is still ravaging the country and the world. Infection rates are continuing to rise, and unfortunately, so are deaths from the virus. Humans naturally have hope for the future, and despite the rising number of new Covid-19 cases, remain positive that things will soon improve. The news of an effective vaccine isn’t the silver-bullet everyone’s been waiting for. It is a sign of hope, but it also doesn’t mean that we can become complacent. History and science have taught us better.
Stay Healthy by Changing Strategies
A vaccine is a positive step but there are still challenges to prepare for. Universal inoculation will not be instantaneous and it will also hit some speed bumps in the form of logistics and distribution, along with convincing reluctant people to trust in the vaccination. At-risk patients and those with allergies, along with the possibility of virus mutation are challenges that we should be ready to meet.
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus with the ability to change its genome structure and emerge in new hosts that do not have a vaccine or the hoped for herd-immunity. It’s ability to quickly mutate likely means that the coronavirus will become a recurring epidemic like influenza and the other types of Coronaviruses. It’s important that we change the way we think, make healthy choices, along with creating and implementing prevention protocols.
Getting Back to Normal
What will our futures look like and will we ever get back to normal? Will everyday things like eating at a restaurant, going to school or the office, and socializing ever be back? While no one knows what is in store for the future, we can’t assume that vaccinations will return life to how it was before the pandemic. Taking a look at influenza over the last 10 years and the average statistics of 33 million symptomatic cases, 442,000 hospitalizations, and 36,000 annual deaths indicates that while the flu vaccine is available every year, the RNA virus constantly mutates and produces a new strain.
The Invisible Killer and PM 2.5
Developing mitigation strategies and avoiding exposure to the virus are concerns, but they don’t tell the whole story. An invisible killer is lurking all around us and it is our air quality, along with exposure to PM 2.5. Continued exposure to PM 2.5 and other pollutants, compromises our bodies making them more vulnerable to Covid-19 infections. Symptoms are often more severe and can lead to death. Long-term exposure to PM 2.5 has caused an estimated 7 million deaths worldwide, with more than 300,000 in the U.S. each year. You can deal with this problem by changing indoor air quality (IAQ), but how do you manage air quality with an uncontrollable external pollutant?
To learn more about Fine Particles (PM 2.5) we suggest starting with the Department of Health and their Q&A on Fine Particles. You can also review this article from Erlab, Dose Reduction of Particles, and the Improvement of Ventilation Effectiveness.
Maintaining Air Quality is Everyone’s Responsibility
Promoting air quality requires the participation of the government, municipalities, businesses, industries, and citizens. Everyone must do their part to reduce the environmental strain and the impact we have on our ecosystem. Working together, we can accomplish amazing things and help create a healthier environment. However, there are several pollution factors to consider, which means we are just getting started. Even though we are slowly improving air quality, it’s not enough. The number of deaths from breathing pollutants is unacceptable. We must take more steps to improve the air we breathe.
The Air Outside Eventually Comes Inside
Even though this article is not about environmental clean-up, pollutants in the air outside will eventually mix with what we breathe inside. It contributes to what is known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) which is when polluted outside air is also inside. While it’s impossible for one company to clean-up the air outside, it’s a different story indoors.
There are immediate and effective solutions companies can take to improve air quality that has proven scientific results. When you improve indoor air quality, you are also mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and other pollutants.
The Long-Term Plan for Indoor Air Quality
Every organization, business, company, and agency should make the conscious decision to permanently improve indoor air quality. It is a large-scale plan to implement, but the long-term goal of protecting everyone from frontline emergency workers and nursing home residents to students and office workers is paramount. Everyone should feel safe breathing the air inside public spaces.
Poor air quality does not have a vaccine coming like Covid-19. It will also take decades to improve outdoor air quality. However, the air indoors is different. You do have control over how healthy it is to breathe. Proper ventilation and air filtration systems are easy to integrate into the building’s infrastructure without downtime. If we want to remain the social creatures we have always been, we need to start incorporating healthy guidelines and using technology designed to protect us.
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“We are thrilled with our new air purification system and our whole organization can rest easier knowing our buildings indoor air quality is 99.995% filtered of all pollutants. The installation crew was quick, professional, and they cleaned up after themselves. Thank you, Action Services group!”
Director of Human Resources – Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Center