New Review Has Clues On How To Keep COVID-19 From Spreading At Home
With so many people staying inside during the coronavirus pandemic, our houses are feeling more like sanctuaries than ever. A new review published in the American Society of Microbiology Journals has some clues about how we can clean and disinfect our home environments to stay safe and prevent the transmission of the disease.
What is the risk of getting COVID-19 from a built environment?
For the review, a team of researchers from U.C.–Davis and the University of Oregon looked at disease transmission in various indoor environments (think schools, hospitals, etc.). We at mbg wondered how their results applied to private spaces, and when we asked Jack Gilbert, the editor of the review, about the risk of picking up the COVID-19 virus at home, he said it was "minimal but not zero."
"The main issue," he explains, "is that the virus can survive on surfaces." So when it comes to protecting your home, you'll want to make sure your counters, cabinets, etc., are clean and disinfected after you interact with the outside world, especially if you live in a high-risk area. It's also important to maintain good hygiene. That means even if you're not leaving your space, you'll still want to regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face just to be safe.
"Washing hands and not touching your face are the best policy irrespective of the environment," Gilbert reiterates.
How to reduce the likelihood of disease spread at home.
In addition to keeping yourself and your surfaces clean, there were two more preventive measures that the report highlighted:
1. Maintain proper humidity.
If your home is particularly dry, now might be the time to invest in a humidifier. Their review shows that up to 77% of viral particles were able to cause an infection an hour after a cough simulation at 23% humidity. But at 43% humidity, only 14% of virus particles were still infectious. Note: This comes from 2013 research on the flu virus, not COVID-19, but it's in line with other research on how humidity can affect health. The sweet spot to aim for is between 40 and 60% humidity at home, which you can easily measure using a portable humidity meter.
2. Monitor airflow.
If a space has insufficient ventilation, it can increase the risk of disease transmission. If you live in a warm and relatively remote area, consider popping open a window to let the fresh air in throughout the day. There are also extractor fans and home ventilation systems if you want to kick the airflow option up a notch.
While there's no sure way to guarantee 100% protection, keeping up with cleaning and hygiene and getting that fresh, semi-moist air flowing at home can help keep your environment in tiptop shape.
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