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COVID sparks conversation about regulating indoor air quality

COVID sparks conversation about regulating indoor air quality

Researchers want people to think about air quality inside to ward off a future pandemic.

DENVER — Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and around the world want people to think about air quality inside to ward off a future pandemic.

"We are asking people to consider shifting their paradigm and treating shared air in public buildings, even your home, like we do water quality," she said. 

"We are well aware that water quality is well regulated," she said. "But we don't do that with air." 

She said it's done in occupational settings but not in many public spaces. The matter took on a new urgency as society learned more about COVID and how it spreads, especially indoors. 

"It would entail some government entity -- city, county, state or even the federal government standards that we are supposed to meet in our buildings," she said. 

In the same way air pollution outside is monitored, Miller brings up the idea of paying attention to the air inside so people know when to adjust their ventilation.

"I would even say hardly any buildings are monitoring anything," she said. "Now people are starting to monitor [carbon dioxide] because we've said it's a goods surrogate for understanding occupancy and ventilation." 

"I actually think the changes would not be as huge as say when we all decided to implement sewer systems in our city," said Millers. "Now we have low cost air quality monitors, we understand ventilation in buildings, we need to put this together in a creative way." 

He said if we get to that point, he would anticipate the priority being on bigger public spaces with more people inside. 

To Traylor, what would make the most sense is finding resources and opening it up to businesses and people to opt to use.

"Air quality is really important when we're thinking about health and safety from a facilities standpoint. Denver Public Schools has invested more than $5M in upgrades to our schools' HVAC systems, helping us increase outside air intake, increase air flow and improve filtration - strategies that will help minimize the spread of airborne diseases."

The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said they are on the lookout for new technology to help out businesses and schools.