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Current Projects

Indoor Air Quality

The importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) in reducing transmission of respiratory diseases became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Improvements to IAQ, including increased ventilation and filtration, have the potential to prevent disease transmission without relying on the behaviors and actions of individuals—such as handwashing and masking. However, these IAQ measures are often overlooked or misunderstood for a variety of reasons including cost and maintenance, lack of incentives, no central authority, and lack of information and resources.

In response, the Center for Health Security has taken on multiple initiatives to raise awareness, provide resources, and recommend policy changes to improve IAQ. In May 2021, the Center published the report School Ventilation: A Vital Tool to Reduce COVID-19 Spread  and provided recommendations for implementation of IAQ improvements in K-12 schools. The Center also hosted a webinar based on this report, A National Conversation on Indoor Air & K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic, in February 2021 to discuss major outcomes, and later drafted an open letter to school administrators to encourage them to improve IAQ in their facilities. In September 2022, the Center hosted a meeting of national experts and policymakers, National Strategy for Improving Indoor Air Quality. A main takeaway from the meeting was to leverage lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to make rapid changes, before these lessons fade from the public eye.

In 2023, the Center kicked off the Model Clean Indoor Air Act, which provides a comprehensive framework for US states to create legislation aimed at improving IAQ. The model act provides a template for states to sensibly monitor, regulate, and improve indoor air, including by inspecting IAQ and publicly posting results. The model state law can be adapted by individual states prior to adoption. Learn more here.

Through these initiatives, the Center hopes to raise awareness of the importance of improving IAQ and provide attainable, cost-effective, phased approaches and centralized resources for achieving better IAQ.

Project team leads: Paula Olsiewski, PhD; Richard Bruns, PhD; Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD

Project team: Alex Zhu, MSPH; Alexander Linder, MSC; James G. Hodge Jr., JD, LLM; Erica White, JD

Project supported by: Open Philanthropy Project


Areas of Focus:

  • Global Health Security
  • Emerging Infectious Disease and Epidemics


Contact the IAQ team: