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Air purity in the age of COVID-19

I’m sorry to mention the word COVID-19 in the title. I wish we could actually spend some part of our lives ignoring the wretched thing. Sadly the effects of this disease are here to stay, and demand a paradigm shift from of all of us. Here we focus on air purity.

(This is particularly true for the superyacht world. We are more focused on face-to-face interaction than many industries.)

Our vision is to reinvent how clients in the 21st century think about the spaces they use, and how they feel in them. The current reality is that feeling safe in a space is now an even more critical necessity than before.

The air purity of the place we inhabit is therefore a very important consideration. The five important components are:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • particulates
  • CO2
  • VOCs (“volatile organic compounds”, basically chemical vapours).

These are the ones we focus on in our ambiences, and this is why they are important:

Temperature. Experts disagree about what the best temperature is for human comfort and health. Most people also have a number in their head that they think is right for them. (The reality is that most of these ideas are complete rubbish, which I will explore in a different post). If you feel too hot it causes discomfort and tiredness, and if you feel too cold it can cause restlessness and distraction too. Almost every conventional air-conditioning system measures only air temperature. Yet radiant temperature contributes significantly to comfort too, and must be considered.

Humidity. This is expressed as a percentage, which is the amount of water vapour in the air. (In reality it is not so simple to understand. When the air is warmer it can hold more water, so the humidity at 18°C is different to the same amount of water at 22°C.) Our bodies cannot detect humidity, so we tend to ignore it. Yet the effect of humidity on human health is profound – below 40% the bacteria in the air spreads a lot more easily. Once above 70%, the human body’s own thermal regulation is impaired. Bad humidity control can also cause issues for soft furnishings, artwork and structures.

Particulates. This is fine dust particles in the air, expressed in microns per cubic meter (μg/m3). Different sizes of particles have different negative effects. The usual categories of measurement are PM10 and PM2.5. The latter is the most dangerous, as it can permeate membranous tissue and travel into the lungs and bloodstream.

VOC’s. Volatile Organic Compounds include a wide range of chemicals found in household products and building materials. They can cause dizziness, headaches, and more serious symptoms. The best way to mitigate this is to understand how certain activities such as cleaning or cooking can increase the levels.

CO2. We all emit Carbon Dioxide when we breathe, so our mere presence in a room will increase CO2 levels. This matters because Carbon Dioxide can affect your mental health and sleep quality. Common side effects of excessive carbon dioxide levels include drowsiness, headaches, decreased productivity, and difficulty with decision making and strategic thinking.

Viveur’s ambience technology measures these elements, and shows you a “VScore”, so you know that you are in the best environment you can be.