Indoor Air Quality
The importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) in reducing transmission of respiratory diseases has become 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 increase 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 is kicking off two more IAQ projects:
- A Model State Indoor Air Quality Act (MSIAQA) will suggest ways that states and localities can support indoor air filtration and ventilation, potentially including procedures for improving IAQ in schools and government buildings, and a framework for inspecting IAQ and publicly posting results. The project will result in an “advocacy-ready” model state law that can be adapted by individual states prior to adoption. Learn more about the MSIAQA here.
- An IAQ Technology Assessment will research and publish a centralized database of detailed engineering recommendations and tools to help people select the appropriate indoor-air technologies to suit their needs. The aim of this database is to provide a user-friendly resource that is easy to understand by all—not only by technical experts—and will include cost-benefit calculations to aid in decision-making.
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: Clint Haines, MS; Erin Fink, MS; James G. Hodge Jr., JD, LLM; Erica White, JD
Project supported by: Open Philanthropy Project
- Preprint: COVID-19 Mitigation in a K-12 School Setting: A Case Study of Avenues: The World School in New York City
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Request for Information Comments
- Tips to Make the Air in Your Home Safer During COVID-19
- School Ventilation: A Vital Tool to Reduce COVID-19 Spread
- Tips to Improve Indoor Ventilation in K-12 Schools to Help Reduce COVID-19 Transmission
- A National Conversation on Indoor Air & K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Experts Encourage School Administrators to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission by Improving Indoor Air in Schools
- National Strategy for Improving Indoor Air Quality
- Global Health Security
- Emerging Infectious Disease and Epidemics