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White House Discusses new ways to improve indoor air quality

White House Discusses new ways to improve indoor air quality
Dr. Alondra Nelson, Head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Deputy Assistant to the President, highlights the crucial role of indoor air quality in combating COVID-19 transmission. The primary mode of virus transmission is through airborne particles suspended in indoor air. As a solution, discussions around enhancing indoor environments through air filtration and cleaning methods are gaining momentum.

Research demonstrates that refreshing indoor air multiple times an hour with filtered or clean outdoor air significantly reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Strategies include using window fans, upgrading HVAC systems with higher MERV filters, adopting portable air cleaning devices, and ensuring proper ventilation by opening windows. Studies indicate that implementing five air changes per hour can reduce transmission risk by 50%.

The importance of improving indoor air quality extends beyond COVID-19, offering protection against the flu, common cold, and other airborne diseases. Recognizing this, the Biden-Harris Administration has emphasized the role of enhanced indoor air quality in the fight against airborne diseases in the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, launched by several Federal departments and agencies, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, calls on building managers, homeowners, and business owners to take action. The Environmental Protection Agency provides practical guidelines to create effective plans for cleaner indoor air.

Key Measures for Safer Indoor Air:

Ventilation: Ensuring clean outdoor air circulation is crucial. Strategies like using fans and HVAC systems to draw in outdoor air or sending clean air into rooms without windows help disperse viral particles, reducing the risk of inhalation or infection through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Air Filtration: Employing high-quality air filters, such as HEPA or MERV-13, connected to capable HVAC systems or portable purifiers, effectively removes virus particles from indoor air. Filtration complements ventilation and is especially valuable in environments with inadequate ventilation.

Air Disinfection: Utilizing advanced methods like ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) systems, which inactivate airborne viruses, adds an extra layer of protection. UVGI systems are particularly beneficial in crowded spaces with poor airflow, healthcare settings, and areas like restaurants where mask--wearing is challenging.

While these strategies enhance indoor air quality, they work best when integrated into a comprehensive approach that includes vaccination, masking, and social distancing. By utilizing air cleaners, HVAC filters, and Far UV-C technology in tandem with recommended practices, we can create healthier indoor spaces and reduce transmission risks.

Dr. Nelson emphasizes that cleaner indoor air should become a fundamental expectation for all. Federal funds are available to support ventilation, filtration, and indoor air quality improvements, ensuring the health and safety of communities across the nation. A virtual event, 'Let’s Clear the Air on COVID,' will bring experts together to delve into this topic further, paving the way for practical solutions for healthier lives.

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