UK’s Loughborough University is spearheading a government project called AIRBODS to get large-scale events back up and running once the pandemic reaches its nadir.
AIRBODS – which stands for Airborne Infection Reduction through Building Operation and Design for SARS-CoV-2 – will seek to create clear guidance on how to design and operate non-domestic buildings to minimize the risk of airborne transmission of Covid-19 and other viruses.
The 18-month study led by Loughborough professor Malcolm Cook is currently conducting trials at several ‘test’ venues including the O2 arena and Wembley Stadium.
His team has already collected data from a nightclub event in Liverpool and the Crucible’s Snooker World Championship.
The University College London, University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Sheffield and London South Bank University, are all part of this novel project.
Inadequate ventilation has been highlighted as a risk factor in terms of the possible airborne transmission of Covid-19 in buildings.
The AIRBODS team is currently monitoring the indoor air quality and the movement of air at different locations around the test venues to try and understand the impact of ventilation.
They will then relate this data to the number of people present at an event and the microbiological analysis of surfaces and air around the venue.
What the scientists have in mind is a ‘Relative Exposure Index’. It will enable building managers to gauge the risk of exposure relative to a benchmark case.
The study will also provide advice and guidance on what ventilation measures can be taken to mitigate risk, says Cook:
“Getting our lives back to some sense of normal following the pandemic is a huge challenge and doing it in a safe and measured way even more so.”
“The large-scale events industry has been shut down for over a year. The work we are doing will help get these types of events and venues back up and running in a safe way.”
The findings of this study can also be extended to all non-domestic settings such as healthcare, education and retail, opines Cook.
Cook further asserts that the knowledge and tools they generate will be relevant for the mitigation of a wide range of airborne hazards across the spectrum of indoor environments for many years to come.
Image and content: Loughborough University