More people would feel safer with more data on indoor air quality, according to a survey ordered by Vaisala, a measurement technology company.
The survey, which included more than 4,000 respondents in the US, France, Germany, and Finland, was conducted in the summer of 2021, studying people’s concerns regarding indoor air during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than a third of the respondents are concerned about the indoor air quality in their place of work, and more than half said that concerns about indoor air quality affect their motivation to visit public spaces. Around two-thirds of those canvassed also said that this anxiety impacts their motivation to travel.
Anu Kätkä from Vaisala’s product management team said: “Vaccination rates are high in the surveyed countries, but the survey revealed high levels of concern with air quality in indoor spaces. We believe this is because, intuitively, people understand that infection risk is higher in indoor spaces where people are in close proximity with each other, and where ventilation is insufficient.”
Kätkä added: “When people spend too long in a poorly ventilated space, their exhaled breath causes carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to rise. Higher levels of CO2 impact people’s wellbeing, health and performance, but importantly, monitoring CO2 levels can highlight when the risk of Covid-19 transmission is high and better ventilation is required. By monitoring CO2 levels in indoor spaces, organisations can therefore provide the reassurance that the survey respondents need.”
Out of all the respondents, the Finns are the most confident about going back to work – around 71 per cent of them report feeling safe about returning to the workplace. Of others canvassed, 70 per cent of French respondents feel safe about returning; 65 per cent of American respondents, and just 55 per cent of the German respondents are content to return.
Half (50 per cent) of all respondents said that they would feel safer about returning to work with more information about indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality can be monitored with instruments that measure, among other parameters, CO2, humidity, and temperature. These parameters can be used to automatically inform ventilation and building management systems so that indoor air quality can be optimised.
Kätkä said: “Indoor air does not only affect exposure to airborne diseases but also employees’ energy levels, because exhaled breath increases CO2 levels which, in turn, increase drowsiness.”
The survey also studied people’s perception of indoor air quality in public spaces, such as shopping centres, sports facilities, and public transport. Overall, people are more concerned about indoor air quality in public areas than at their place of work, with 50 per cent of all respondents desiring more information in the workplace, whereas 60 per cent would like more information on indoor air quality in public spaces.
The concern with indoor air quality in public spaces translates into a reluctance to travel, with 65 per cent of respondents saying that concerns with indoor air quality in public places affect their motivation to travel.
Schools, shopping centres, restaurants, stations and airports all benefit from indoor air quality monitoring. Viruses travel faster in dry air, but humidity can make people feel unwell. It is therefore important to monitor and maintain optimal conditions, and to share the monitoring data with all stakeholders, including staff and members of the public.
The survey was conducted between June 21, 2021 and July 11, 2021, with the market research company Norstat in Finland, France, Germany, and the United States. The survey gathered approximately 1,000 respondents in each country, and the respondents included both men and women aged 18-65. The survey was ordered by Vaisala.