COVID-19 Prevention Focus Shifts to Indoor Air Quality

Today’s White House webinar will outline techniques for improving IAQ in facilities

COVID-19 mitigation efforts of the past two years have progressed from facility shutdowns and social distancing to mask-wearing and vaccinations. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, with facilities reopened and mask-wearing optional, facility managers are focused on monitoring indoor air quality (IAQ), McKnights Long-Term Care News reports.

The shift has been spurred by ongoing research pinpointing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to airborne particles and a call for improved ventilation inside buildings. A recent push by a White House advisor highlighted the commonly accepted theory that the coronavirus is spread through tiny aerosolized particles that remain suspended in the air from minutes to hours after an infected person has been in the area.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, MD, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is recommending that facility managers use evidence-based techniques for improving IAQ from opening windows and using portable air-cleaning devices to installing built-in air purification technology. This technology includes constant indoor room air exchange using highly effective filters in HVAC systems. Nelson said studies have found that five air changes an hour inside a facility can reduce COVID-19 transmission risk by 50%.

“While there are various strategies for avoiding breathing that air—from remote work to masking—we can and should talk more about how to make indoor environments safer by filtering or cleaning the air,” she said.