Intermittent occupancy combined with ventilation: An efficient strategy for the reduction of airborne transmission indoors

Arsen Krikor Melikov, Z. T. Ai*, D. G. Markov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


It is important that efficient measures to reduce the airborne transmission of respiratory infectious diseases (including COVID-19) should be formulated as soon as possible to ensure a safe easing of lockdown. Ventilation has been widely recognized as an efficient engineering control measure for airborne transmission. Room ventilation with an increased supply of clean outdoor air could dilute the expiratory airborne aerosols to a lower concentration level. However, sufficient increase is beyond the capacity of most of the existing mechanical ventilation systems that were designed to be energy efficient under non-pandemic conditions. We propose an improved control strategy based on source control, which would be achieved by implementing intermittent breaks in room occupancy, specifically that all occupants should leave the room periodically and the room occupancy time should be reduced as much as possible. Under the assumption of good mixing of clean outdoor supply air with room air, the evolution of the concentration in the room of aerosols exhaled by infected person(s) is predicted. The risk of airborne cross-infection is then evaluated by calculating the time-averaged intake fraction. The effectiveness of the strategy is demonstrated for a case study of a typical classroom. This strategy, together with other control measures such as continuous supply of maximum clean air, distancing, face-to-back layout of workstations and reducing activities that increase aerosol generation (e.g., loudly talking and singing), is applicable in classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, conference rooms, etc.
Original languageEnglish
Article number140908
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Airborne transmission
  • COVID-19
  • Control measures
  • Ventilation
  • Source control

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Intermittent occupancy combined with ventilation: An efficient strategy for the reduction of airborne transmission indoors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this