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Indoor airPLUS and Viruses, Bacteria and Mold

Indoor airPLUS and Viruses, Bacteria and Mold

View this email in your browser Indoor airPLUS is a comprehensive, whole building system approach to a healthier home. As we encounter viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, Indoor airPLUS labeled homes can help us have cleaner air to breathe by reducing exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants now and into the future.  EPA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies as part of the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As we work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 there have been questions about how high performance building systems, including Indoor airPLUS homes, can be used to help provide some protection from viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, bacteria, and other pathogens. Indoor airPLUS is a voluntary program that helps homeowners improve indoor air quality by providing home construction practices and product specifications that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants. By itself, having an Indoor airPLUS home is not enough to protect individuals from viruses. However, improved indoor air quality is an important tool within a broader plan to protect occupants from the risk of COVID-19. Here are ways builders, raters, and others can talk to homeowners about how an Indoor airPLUS home can help: The CDC recommends increasing building ventilation rates to reduce the concentration of any viruses present. Indoor airPLUS homes include whole building mechanical ventilation systems that allow the homeowner to control ventilation rates and dilute contaminants in the air. SAY: “Indoor airPLUS homes include whole building mechanical systems that can help dilute contaminants in the air, reducing exposure risks.”   DON’T SAY: “Indoor airPLUS homes ventilate all bacteria and viruses out of the home.” Viruses and bacteria can be present in airborne particles released by the swirl of flushing water in the toilet. Indoor airPLUS homes provide local, mechanical venting directly to the outdoors in each bathroom which will help exhaust potentially contaminated air close to the source. SAY: “Local ventilation in bathrooms of Indoor airPLUS homes can help exhaust air and reduce the concentration of any viruses, which may become airborne when people use the bathroom.”   DON’T SAY: “EPA’s ventilation requirements for Indoor airPLUS homes will keep you safe from viruses and pathogens.” High levels of filtration can help remove particles from the indoor environment, including particles that may contain viruses. The Indoor airPLUS Construction Specifications require a MERV 8 filter to be installed in central forced-air HVAC systems, but EPA highly recommends a MERV 13 filter for added protection.1 SAY: “Indoor airPLUS homes with the recommended MERV 13 filter have improved filtration of particles that may be carrying viruses and bacteria.”   DON’T SAY: “Filters used in Indoor airPLUS homes sterilize the air from bacteria and viruses.” It is important to keep the indoor air dry enough to help prevent the growth of mold. If indoor air is too humid, moisture can condense on surfaces and enhance the growth of mold. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.2 The moisture in Indoor airPLUS homes is carefully controlled, both mechanically and by the tightness of the home, to reduce mold growth and maintain a healthier level of humidity. SAY: “Indoor airPLUS homes with controlled humidity can help reduce respiratory and other health issues associated with mold.”   DON’T SAY: “The humidity levels in an Indoor airPLUS home make it impossible for bacteria, viruses or pathogens to survive.” Please feel free to contact us with any questions about Indoor airPLUS. We look forward to supporting you in the construction of Indoor airPLUS homes!   Best regards, The Indoor airPLUS Team