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Survey Shows Workers’ Concerns Over Catching Colds

Testing reveals that people experience a wide range of ventilation safety daily.

November 22, 2022

According to a survey by Leger (a Canadian market research firm) conducted on the behalf of BreatheEasy (a consortium of air safety, ventilation, and purification organizations), 70% of the participants were concerned about catching a respiratory virus at work.

The online survey polled 400 residents in the greater Toronto area who work for an employer full-time or part-time and have access to an office. Nearly everyone polled—90%—said they viewed ventilation as playing a critical role in preventing respiratory infections. Two-thirds (66%) said they would spend more time in a building where they had access to air safety data. However, only 60% said that their workplace has communicated air safety protocols and best practices to keep employees safe.

In conjunction with this data, BreatheEasy’s Toronto program—BreatheEasyTO—conducted the world’s first city-wide program to test indoor air safety through Rapid Air Safety Tests. Over a six-week period, BreatheEasyTO tested more than 9 million cubic feet of indoor space across 119 locations in the 50 busiest blocks of downtown Toronto to evaluate the risk of contracting an airborne illness such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or COVID-19. The program measured how quickly each space cleared viruses and bacteria using effective air changes per hour (ACH) and then provided the scores to each space’s management.

According to the testing done to date, three-quarters (75%) of the spaces had an ACH of 6 or greater, which is the equivalent of replacing the air in the room every 10 minutes. For context, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guides hospitals to maintain 6 ACH or higher to significantly reduce risk of respiratory transmissions indoors. Results from the testing also showed that a person typically experiences a wide range of ventilation safety (from 1 to 20+ ACH) over the course of a day in the spaces that were tested.

“While the average person may drink two to three liters of water daily, we inhale about 11,000 liters of air each day. In the same way that water is tested by cities, businesses should ensure the air we breathe in their spaces is as safe as possible,” said Steve Horwoord, vice president of business development at Ainsworth (a Toronto-based provider of technical trades services and a BreatheEasy consortium member). “We all know that we can’t manage what we don’t measure.”

Testing in Toronto is being extended through the end of 2022. Commercial property owners, businesses, and not-for-profit organizations in Toronto can click here to schedule their own free Rapid Air Safety Test.

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