A group of health organizations has called on the CDC and OSHA to issue additional guidance on risk of COVID-19 infection through aerosol transmission of microdroplets.
A statement from AIHA and eight other health organizations calls for federal agencies to create specific guidelines for workers and communities related to aerosol transmission of the coronavirus.
The recommendations arrive in the wake of “federal agencies’ delay in acknowledging the capability for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to infect people via the inhalation of virus-laden aerosols – that is, small airborne droplets,” according to the statement.
The groups say, despite some acknowledgment from the CDC and the World Health Organization that the virus can be spread via these smaller droplets, guidance has only focused on transmission through larger droplets and contact.
The nine groups call for regulation, research and funding to address airborne transmission, including:
- a temporary emergency standard from OSHA
- continued work by OSHA on a comprehensive infectious disease standard
- research into the roles and designs of dilution and local-exhaust ventilation
- development of simple-to-use, inexpensive ventilation assessment tools, and
- better respiratory protection options for frontline workers, including elastomeric and powered air purifying respirators to free up filtering facepiece respirators for other healthcare personnel.
The potential for aerosol transmission of the coronavirus has received a lot of debate.
A story by FairWarning points toward this being a real hazard.
Examples so far may be anecdotal, but situations have been reported in which virus transmission occurs between rooms and even between apartments that share the same ventilation system.
A case study in a peer-reviewed journal describes an outbreak in a South Korean apartment tower where the virus seems to have spread from floor to floor via a ventilation shaft.
Walls between units that aren’t air-tight may be another source.
FairWarning’s article contains this test for apartment dwellers: If you can smell your neighbor’s food, that’s a sign. If those molecules are coming through, there’s a good chance there’s an air exchange that could transmit the coronavirus.
And if aerosol transmission is possible from one apartment to another, it’s also possible between rooms within the same business.