Study: air quality ‘well within’ safe limits at Messe Frankfurt trade fairs

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Indoor-Air, 5 to 7 October 2021, in Exhibition Hall 12 of Messe Frankfurt. Image supplied. Indoor-Air, 5 to 7 October 2021, in Exhibition Hall 12 of Messe Frankfurt. Image supplied.

The air quality at three trade fairs held at Messe Frankfurt in the second half of 2021 was found to be ‘well within’ safe limits, according to the results of a new study.

The venue asked a team of researchers at the Institute of Building and Indoor Climate Technology, E.ON Energy Research Centre, RWTH Aachen and Heinz Trox Wissenschaft gGmbH, to carry out the study as lockdown restrictions were lifted.

The aim was to determine if the level of air contamination in typical trade fair halls constituted a hygiene risk, regardless of the ventilation systems.

 Under the direction of Prof. Dirk Müller, contamination levels were measured at three trade fairs – Indoor-Air, Formnext and Food Ingredients (Fi) Europe – held in Halls 3 and 12 at Messe Frankfurt.

As Uwe Behm, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, said: “These new study results show that there was good air circulation in all of the halls under examination and at all three events, without any recognisable pockets of uncirculated air. The concentrations of CO2 at the individual measurement points varied only very marginally from those in the exhaust ducts, meaning that the mix of air is virtually ideal.”

The measurements were taken in the supply air and exhaust ducts of the ventilation systems and with an additional 22 sensors in continuous operation during the events. These were positioned at visitor head height on columns, near aisles and stands, and in areas adjacent to the halls.

The concentration of CO2 was taken as an indicator of the contamination of indoor air. This is because aerosols – which have been a key indicator in the pandemic and can be potentially infected with viruses – are emitted through breathing in the same way as CO2. The aim should be to not exceed a CO2 level of 1,000 ppm (parts per million). CO2 concentrations above 2,000 ppm are considered hygienically unacceptable.

All CO2 concentrations measured were consistently well under 1,000 ppm – in some cases, they were just over 400 ppm, which is almost on a par with outdoor air quality. With a maximum level of 835 ppm on the day with the highest number of visitors, it was also demonstrated that the fresh air volumes specified by Messe Frankfurt were sufficient to guarantee good and hygienically safe air quality on all days of the event. This means that, with additional safety and hygiene measures in place, it is possible to hold trade fairs safely even during a pandemic. When combined with further measures from an approved hygiene concept, there is no reason from a ventilation perspective why trade fairs should not be held. However, the air quality can and should be monitored continually by measuring the concentration of CO2 in the air.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

A journalist for more than 22 years, AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Page proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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