October 20, 2022

EPA Seeks Recommendations for Improving IAQ to Reduce Disease Transmission

In a Federal Register notice published Oct. 5, EPA requests information from industrial hygienists and other professionals that would help the federal government promote adoption of practices to improve indoor air quality in existing buildings, especially schools and commercial buildings. The agency says it will use information submitted to support development of guidance, training, incentives, and other efforts related to IAQ.

The Federal Register points to results from a CDC survey that asked schools to describe their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Just 39 percent of schools that responded to the survey said they had attempted to replace or upgrade their heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Even smaller percentages reported using HEPA filtration in classrooms (28 percent) or eating areas (30 percent). Far more prevalent among survey respondents were lower-cost strategies such as relocating classes outdoors, opening doors or windows, and inspecting and validating existing HVAC systems.

Given these results and anecdotal evidence indicating that some schools have had difficulty finding qualified workers to implement HVAC improvements, EPA indicates there is a need to spur research and innovation related to IAQ and generate broad support for IAQ improvements throughout the public and the federal government.

EPA seeks comment on approaches the federal government could consider for motivating stakeholders to improve ventilation in buildings, helping schools respond to COVID-19, evaluating ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning in buildings, and other issues. Stakeholders who wish to respond to EPA’s request will find instructions on how to do so in the Federal Register.

Related: The article “Back to School” in the October 2021 issue of The Synergist discusses ideas for how schools can stay healthy and safe during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.