LabCom_2022 - V2 - Laboratoires communs organismes de recherche publics – PME/ETI - Edition 2022 - Vague 2

Modelling, Assessment and Reduction of Airborne Risk in Indoor and Confined Environments – ERR-IN

Submission summary

The SARS-CoV-2 sanitary crisis has highlighted the issue of indoor air quality (IAQ) and the airborne spread of pathogens, an issue that also applies to other seasonal epidemics, local contaminations and nosocomial diseases. Apart from the acute COVID-19 crisis, the socio-economic costs for companies and the health system are enormous (several tenths of billions of euros per year for the economic costs). Although it is now commonly accepted that long-distance airborne transmission in confined environments plays a significant role in the transmission of pathogens, there are few data and methods for quantifying the risk of infection.

Recently, a number of emergency measures have been taken, such as increased fresh air renewal (usually by opening windows), the installation of CO2 sensors or air purifiers, showing that regulatory ventilation is insufficient to limit the spread of airborne pathogens. There are few data and methods to quantify the reduction of biological risk. Consequently, it is not possible to define a regulatory or normative framework adapted to a type of room (professional or public) that guarantees biologically healthy air.

In order to better understand the mechanisms of infection by airborne bio-contaminants and to be able to make proposals to mitigate the risks of contamination, the scientific community and the private sector are getting involved. Models have been developed, remediation solutions studied and treatment systems proposed. However, at this stage, the proposed models remain limited and describe simplified situations that do not allow for the implementation of preventive measures, and the evaluation of remediation solutions is rarely carried out under real conditions. Furthermore, the objectives of improving IAQ are in contradiction with the objectives of reducing the energy consumption of buildings and the comfort of users. Long-term building-scale modelling would help to optimise the overall bio-resilience of buildings.
The ERR-IN LabCom addresses these issues and brings together, on the one hand, the GEPEA laboratory, in particular the Energy Systems and Environment Department of IMT Atlantique, which specialises in indoor air treatment processes, the understanding of contaminant emission and elimination mechanisms and the optimisation of treatment solutions, and, on the other hand, the company Ingenica, which provides aerosol risk diagnosis services and designs and markets a range of ventilation and air treatment devices.

ERR-IN's objectives are :

i) to increase knowledge on the transmission mechanisms of airborne diseases in confined environments,
ii) to assess in-situ the effectiveness of technologies and devices for reducing health risks,
iii) to develop reliable and robust methods for characterising and quantifying risks and to evaluate the effectiveness of air treatment devices.

The LabCom intends to focus its research and innovation activities on three key axes:

I. The development of numerical tools for the emission and dispersion of pathogens in order to evaluate the probability of infection in confined environments and the effectiveness of prevention measures.
II. The creation of an experimental cell to evaluate the robustness of these models in the context of experiments under controlled conditions and for the evaluation of remediation systems.
III. The development of a predictive model to couple building use and risk quantification models for the design of bio-resilient buildings.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 363,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2023 - 54 Months

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