October 11, 2022, Tuesday – the White House hosted a Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality. Gathering a signature group of experts on health and ventilation, the leaders from education and private sectors, and other stakeholders, the summit highlights the importance of indoor air quality not only in controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease, but also to expand the numerous benefits a healthy IAQ has for everyone.
Here are some of the Summit’s lessons to take note of:
“Take your age and multiply it by 0.9, that’s how many years you’ve lived indoors and are breathing indoor air.”
This supports the fact that most of us spend more than 90% of our time in built environments, be it at home, in schools, offices, buses, airplanes, malls, among others. The amount of time we spend indoors makes our risk of exposure to potentially toxic air higher than outdoors, putting us at risk of IAQ-related health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergies.
“We need to take a pulse of our buildings regularly, just like what the doctors do when we go in for a visit”
The Summit puts emphasis on making efforts to improve indoor air quality, but how do we know if our efforts are working? Just like the human body, we also need to take a pulse of our building’s health. This can be done using low cost indoor air quality sensors, these sensors measure indoor air quality factors such as temperature, particles, volatile gasses, and carbon dioxide (as a proxy for ventilation rate). By having comprehensive data about the air indoors, you can easily pinpoint problems, devise solutions, and determine which strategy works and which does not. The Administration also puts stress on IAQ monitors being present and becoming the norm in every built environment, as normal as seeing a thermostat.
“Improving IQ is a way to attract top talent, improve their health, and enhance productivity.”
Companies spend dollars in providing competitive salaries and applying employee management techniques to recruit and retain top talent and increase productivity. But aside from monitoring every employee’s work accomplishments, financial rewarding and granting promotions, another factor that will influence their productivity and performance is indoor air quality.
Numerous reports have shown that poor indoor air quality has a substantial impact on human cognition, concentration, and work performance. When employees frequently get sick, it is indeed obvious that their attendance and performance at work will suffer. Businesses must rethink their workplace health and safety measures to protect people and the business.
The Summit also highlighted the steps that the US Administration performs to promote healthy IAQ across the country including Clean Air in Buildings Challenge which serves as a call for organizations and building owners of every industry to evaluate their IAQ and improve their ventilation and filtration to keep the air healthy and the occupants safe. All the information about the said challenge can be accessed in the Administration’s freshly launched website, those who sign up earn a digital badge that symbolizes their commitment to making IAQ better.
Also showcased are schools that are leading the way in making IAQ optimizations such as Denver Public Schools and Clark County School District. The two educational systems are known to perform great efforts in improving ventilation and air filtration. The US government continues to work with organizations and seek guidance and support from skilled technicians to make IAQ improvements easier. The United States’ Department of Energy will also continue to perform consultations for any American school that aims to optimize their IAQ.
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving attention to clean indoor air like never before. Hopefully, more and more countries and organizations will recognize the importance of better air not just during the pandemic times, but as we move into the post-crisis future.
Click here to watch the recorded summit.