Scientists Push for Indoor Air Quality Regulation

As the world begins to return to a semblance of normalcy from the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists, engineers, public health experts and policymakers are all beginning to draw lessons from the events of the past year. One suggestion that has begun to attract attention is the idea of regulating indoor air quality. Here’s what you need to know about the push for indoor air quality regulation.


What’s the Case for Regulating Indoor Air Quality?


Supporters of this idea argue that indoor air quality is a largely neglected aspect of public health. Unlike outdoor air pollution limits or water quality standards, there are few regulations governing the quality of the air inside public buildings. As a result, governments have had relatively little input on how or even if indoor air is treated to remove common contaminants.


This absence of regulation, proponents argue, contributed to the problems of COVID-19 over the past year. With higher standards of filtration and ventilation in place, the virus may not have been able to spread as effectively indoors. As a result, those in favor of regulating indoor air quality believe that the time is now right for governments to take action, before another major viral outbreak comes along in the future.


What Would Regulations Look Like and How Could They Be Enforced?


Current proposals to create standards for indoor air quality largely focus on the idea of ventilating and filtering air to remove potentially harmful contaminants. While airborne pathogens such as viruses are the obvious targets of this push, standards could also be set around carbon dioxide, particulate matter and other non-biological contaminants. If implemented, regulations would likely be a combination of limits on how much of a given contaminant could be present in indoor air and requirements for indoor air filtration systems.


Although the idea of regulating indoor air quality is still in a very early stage, proponents largely argue for monitoring systems as the main means of enforcement. Carbon dioxide monitors, for example, could be used to estimate how much of the air in a room was exhaled. Keeping that amount below a certain threshold with ventilation and filtering would lower the risk of pathogens spreading. Between strict monitoring and updated standards for ventilation systems on newly constructed buildings, a basic set of regulatory standards could radically improve the quality of indoor air in public spaces.


Are There Potential Downsides?


As with any form of regulation, there are cons as well as pros to the idea of establishing higher indoor air quality standards. First and foremost, requiring more advanced filtering and ventilation would add to the cost of new buildings. If applied to residential homes, the same phenomenon could increase the cost of living at a time when home prices are already at historic highs.


In addition to higher construction costs, more advanced ventilation systems would also use more energy. The process of circulating air and forcing it through filters requires significant energy inputs, potentially increasing the ecological impacts of buildings and driving utility bills higher. As an answer to this, some proponents of indoor air quality regulation suggest allowing these systems to run at lower settings under ordinary conditions, but still have the capacity to ventilate and filter to very high standards when needed. In the event of a future pandemic, all buildings could switch over to this higher operating capacity, thus providing higher air quality standards when they are truly needed.


So far, the idea of regulating indoor air quality is just a suggestion without concrete legislation behind it. The good news, though, is that homeowners and commercial building owners can take advantage of air purifiers to voluntarily improve their indoor air quality. If you have questions about how the right air purifier can help you breathe clean, healthy air, be sure to contact US Air Purifiers today for answers and personalized product recommendations.