2021 was the year that the discussion about indoor air quality and ventilation went mainstream. It’s a conversation we need to continue in 2022.

The pandemic turned indoor air quality into a health and safety issue in need of further attention.

It is now public knowledge that airborne pathogens like COVID-19 can be managed and infections prevented simply by maintaining good indoor air quality.

A number of state governments got it right by introducing sensors and air purifiers to school rooms. In Canberra ventilation became part of the overall strategy to manage the COVID-19 threat.

Now that is a huge step forward, but it should only be the beginning.

The truth is if every building we entered had a wall monitor advising us of the quality of the air we were breathing we would be in for a big surprise. We wouldn’t want to remove our masks that’s for sure.

Air quality monitoring should be mandatory and minimum standards should be in place to improve public health and safety.

In the United States and Europe governments have taken it even further with initiatives that are worthy of consideration here in Australia.

Eager to provide healthy learning environments in schools, funding has been provided in the United States for schools to retrofit their HVAC systems to create cleaner air.

Administrator Michael S. Regan said the assistance will help schools keep their students safer with healthier air. Other aspects of the plan include creating community safe havens during heat waves and smoke events. “It’s about dealing with the impacts of climate change,” he

It sounds like a plan for a typical summer in Australia where we deal with extreme heat and bushfire smoke on a regular basis.

The US action plan aims to reduce COVID-19 transmission along with other airborne illnesses, improve air quality in schools, establish clean air shelters and cooling centres in areas susceptible to serious health impacts from extreme heat and wildfire smoke. It’s a plan that deals with the pandemic, climate change, as well as community health and safety. 

It sounds like a plan we need to think about in Australia, one that we can explore in 2022. It’s not hard to see why it’s important, it should be a breeze to understand.

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