A Somerset County Councillor is on a clean air mission.
“I’m keen to learn the lessons of the pandemic” says Councillor Oliver Patrick, “and one of those lessons is that airborne diseases like Covid spread easily between people indoors where ventilation is poor.”
“The combination of high inflation, soaring energy costs, Brexit, and Covid has been brutal on businesses and they really need our custom” says Oliver.
“During the deadliest part of the Covid pandemic, a whopping 3.7 million people were classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) and asked to take extra precautions such as living in isolation from society,” says Oliver.
“Tragically many CEV people are still staying away from shops, cafes, restaurants and other busy indoor spaces over concerns for their health. For them the pandemic isn’t over by a long stretch and Covid remains a very real and present danger. These are people with severely compromised immune systems, or people who couldn’t have the vaccines for medical reasons.”
“My hope is that deployment of CO₂ (carbon dioxide) monitors will reassure CEV people as well as helping bring much-needed custom to businesses at this difficult time. Think of it like the air hygiene equivalent of the food hygiene rating posters we are accustomed to seeing in shop windows. My dream is that people will be able to see a CO₂ reading in a cafe or hair salon and make an informed decision about how safe that venue might be.”
To this end, Mr Patrick is offering free air monitors to Somerset businesses so they can measure CO2 levels and take steps to increase the amount of fresh air when the reading is too high.
“The concept is very simple” says Oliver, “you plug it in and keep an eye on the CO₂ numbers. If the CO₂ reading goes above 1,000ppm (parts per million), you open a window to bring the level down.”
“Put simply, if CO₂ levels are high it means you’re rebreathing other people’s exhaled air, and that means sharing airborne infections like Covid and flu. You can usually sense when CO₂ is high in a room because it feels stuffy and you’ll get a headache or feel drowsy,” says Oliver, “all an air monitor does is help us ‘see’ the CO₂ in the room and prompt us to take steps to bring it down.”