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Victory for Health: New Indoor Air Guidelines

The USA might be on the verge of an indoor air quality revolution - and it could prove to be one of the most important public health victories of the 21st century.


Neon sign saying: breathe

Two events in the past few days have contributed to this moment, reports The Washington Post. First, the CDC has published a new health-based ventilation target that should dramatically improve indoor air. Shortly after, a less well-known but powerful standard-setting organization called the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) boosted the CDC’s recommendations by releasing its own enhanced ventilation standard, open now for public comment.


You might be thinking, “Is this really news?” Haven’t we been discussing the importance of ventilation since it became clear that the coronavirus was primarily transmitted through the air?


Yes, the CDC and other groups did call for higher ventilation rates. But they failed to put out a target number. Without a specific ventilation standard, that resulted in confusion and a lack of accountability. “Did you improve ventilation?” is very different from “Did you improve it by a specific amount?”


The CDC’s new goal is at least five air changes per hour (ACH), meaning the equivalent of all the air in a room is replaced five or more times within an hour. For context, a typical home has less than 0.5 ACH. This represents the first time in history that the agency has set a ventilation target to address respiratory infectious diseases.

 

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