Understanding the science of airborne transmission can aid mitigation design

An astonishing amount of research on the vectors for transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that leads to Covid-19 infection) is available. Recent research may seem overwhelming to design professionals, but it can serve as a source for the prudent design or redesign of indoor spaces.

At some point, the standard of care for architects, mechanical engineers, and others could increase because of the availability of reliable scientific research. The overriding responsibility of licensed design professionals to protect public health and safety could be shaped by peer-reviewed scientific and engineering studies recommending physical methods useful in mitigating the risk of infection from Covid-19.

For example, at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics, researchers presented a range of studies investigating the aerodynamics of infectious disease. Their results suggest strategies for lowering risk based on a rigorous understanding of how infectious particles mix with air in confined spaces. The article explaining the studies is available from the American Physical Society.

The German-based Max Planck Society recently published an article, “COVID-19: Calculating aerosol infection risk yourself,” that uses information from international studies to create a useful algorithm for determining the risk of being infected by aerosol particles. The algorithm is available in an English version.

While the significant increase in understanding how the spread of the virus can change the expectations placed on design professionals, awareness of the scientific and engineering research can position design professionals to provide valued services to their clients and the public.

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