Environmental factors involved in SARS-CoV-2 transmission: effect and role of indoor environmental quality in the strategy for COVID-19 infection control.Environ Health Prev Med. 2020 Nov 03; 25(1):66.EH
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a new zoonotic agent that emerged in December 2019, causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This infection can be spread by asymptomatic, presymptomatic, and symptomatic carriers. SARS-CoV-2 spreads primarily via respiratory droplets during close person-to-person contact in a closed space, especially a building. This article summarizes the environmental factors involved in SARS-CoV-2 transmission, including a strategy to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a building environment. SARS-CoV-2 can persist on surfaces of fomites for at least 3 days depending on the conditions. If SARS-CoV-2 is aerosolized intentionally, it is stable for at least several hours. SARS-CoV-2 is inactivated rapidly on surfaces with sunlight. Close-contact aerosol transmission through smaller aerosolized particles is likely to be combined with respiratory droplets and contact transmission in a confined, crowded, and poorly ventilated indoor environment, as suggested by some cluster cases. Although evidence of the effect of aerosol transmission is limited and uncertainty remains, adequate preventive measures to control indoor environmental quality are required, based on a precautionary approach, because COVID-19 has caused serious global damages to public health, community, and the social economy. The expert panel for COVID-19 in Japan has focused on the "3 Cs," namely, "closed spaces with poor ventilation," "crowded spaces with many people," and "close contact." In addition, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan has been recommending adequate ventilation in all closed spaces in accordance with the existing standards of the Law for Maintenance of Sanitation in Buildings as one of the initial political actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, specific standards for indoor environmental quality control have not been recommended and many scientific uncertainties remain regarding the infection dynamics and mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in closed indoor spaces. Further research and evaluation are required regarding the effect and role of indoor environmental quality control, especially ventilation.