Medical Moment: Preventing Covid spread at home

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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Your home may feel like the safest place to be to prevent a COVID infection, but what happens if someone in your household tests positive? Researchers have found a quick, inexpensive way to reduce the infection from spreading to others in your household.

Eric Martin, program director at FSEC Energy Research Center at UCF says, “We found it was actually relatively simple to create a homemade isolation space that achieves the same differential pressure target that you might find in a hospital-grade isolation space.”

They tested 17 different isolation room configurations to find the best way to reduce aerosol particles from spreading throughout the house. The best and most cost-effective configuration they found was using a bedroom with an attached bathroom, seal off the heating and cooling duct work going into the room, keep the door to the bedroom closed, and run the exhaust fan in the bathroom.

“If the flow in the exhaust fan is not adequate, then people can also use a portable window fan that could pull air from the isolation space to the outside,” says Tanvir Khan, PhD Post-Doctoral Researcher at FSEC Energy Research Center.

The portable exhaust fan the team used for their study was bought online for $30. The researchers said the isolation room is best used in a detached single-family home. In an apartment or multifamily building, the negative pressure that’s created to generate an effective isolation space could result in drawing in air from adjacent units.

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