US Pharm. 2020;45(5):HS-15-HS-16.

Social distancing has Americans mostly out of the places they usually gather and into their homes as they attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But some buildings, such as hospitals and grocery stores, have to remain open, and at some point, most individuals will go back to their office or workplace. What is the role of building design in disease transmission, and can we change how we design the built environment to make it healthier? Those questions are addressed in a review published in mSystems by David Coil, project scientist; Professor Jonathan Eisen at the UC Davis Genome Center and School of Medicine; and colleagues at the Biology and the Built Environment Center, University of Oregon.

Among the simplest suggestions for healthier buildings: opening windows to improve air circulation and opening blinds to admit natural daylight. While more research needs to be done on the effect of sunlight on SARS-CoV-2 indoors, “Daylight exists as a free, widely available resource to building occupants with little downside to its use and many documented positive human health benefits,” the authors write.

We spend almost all of our daily lives inside human-built environments, whether homes, vehicles, or workplaces. Built environments provide lots of opportunities for people to come into contact with viruses and bacteria—through air flow, from surfaces, and also from the way buildings make us interact with each other.