There could have been significantly more trade fairs during the Corona period – at least when it comes to the risk of infection when visiting a trade fair. This is how the result of a study carried out by Messe Frankfurt together with the University of Aachen can be interpreted. Although Germany has many halls with complex air conditioning systems, strict corona regulations have made exhibitions almost impossible since March 2020, according to the trade fair.
The health authorities followed the assumption “that through human respiration, aerosols potentially contaminated with viruses are released analogously to CO during respiration and infections with Sars-Cov-2 occur more frequently”. For this reason, events in public spaces were initially categorically suspended without taking the technical equipment into account. “Although the risk of infection can be significantly reduced by ventilation and air purification,” as the trade fair reports. She relies on the results of the investigation that she carried out together with a team of researchers for building and indoor climate technology from the Technical University of Aachen and Heinz Trox Wissenschafts gGmbH.
Samples taken at three fairs
To this end, the air was measured in Halls 3 and 12 at three Frankfurt exhibitions – Indoor-Air, Formnext and Food Ingredients Europe – in the second half of 2021. “The study results now available show that there was a good mixture of indoor air in all the exhibition halls examined and at all three events, with no recognizable local accumulations,” says Uwe Behm, one of the exhibition’s managing directors. “The CO2-Concentrations at the individual measuring points and in the exhaust air differ only slightly, so it is an almost ideal mixed ventilation.” and near the stand as well as in the peripheral areas of the halls.
The carbon dioxide concentration was chosen as an indicator for the pollution of the room air, since the aerosols that are significant in the pandemic and potentially contaminated with viruses are also released during breathing. The aim should be not to exceed a value of 1000 ppm (parts per million; parts per million). Room air with a concentration of 2000 ppm is considered hygienically unacceptable.
Partly almost outside air quality
According to the study, all measured carbon dioxide concentrations were consistently and well below 1000 ppm. With some only around 400 ppm, the measured values even come close to outdoor air quality. “With a maximum value of 835 ppm on the day with the most visitors, it could also be proven that with the air volumes specified by Messe Frankfurt, good and hygienically safe air quality could be guaranteed over all days of the trade fair,” reports the company, which has caused millions in losses due to the cancellation of many trade fairs to have. Most recently, the shareholders, the city of Frankfurt and the state of Hesse, which owns the trade fair, had to make 250 million euros available for an equity increase.
However, it was not only official requirements that led to the cancellations, but also the concern of many exhibitors and customers who did not want to expose their employees to the risk of infection. In addition, travel restrictions imposed by companies and quarantine regulations in many countries had made participation in international trade fairs more difficult. The study now confirms that with additional protective and hygiene measures, trade fair operations are safe even during a pandemic.