More emphasis and funding should be put on air quality
A recent New York Times article explains how disinfecting surfaces has become the mainstay of public efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This is a good since public health officials have stressed the importance of wiping down surfaces as part of an overall strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus. Hand washing along with wiping down surfaces with cleaners to disinfect should continue to some degree once everyone has been vaccinated. The ‘new’ awareness of cleaning could even help reduce the number of seasonal flu cases now they people are in the habit of surface cleaning. The problem is so much information has stressed surface cleaning, especially for schools air quality the indoor air cleaning has been ignored to a certain degree.
As the Times article stated, Health experts have noted that excessive cleaning could distract from what is really needed in a public setting, more focus on preventing airborne transmission. As we know, it was months before the CDC admitted that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and can be transmitted via aerosolized droplets. Whether it was known and the government didn’t want to panic people we finally were given fact-based data how easily the virus can be transmitted through the air.
As noted in the story, the problem with “hygiene theater” isn’t just the false sense of security it imparts around COVID-19 and surface cleaning. Increased usage of chemical cleaning products can worsen indoor air quality, and poor air quality can exacerbate other health issues. It’s a known fact more people, especially children suffer from allergies and asthma and clean air environment is important. Chemicals, mold created by poor structures with water coming in the building can cause significant problems for school age children.
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC), a national nonprofit organization’s CEO Rochelle Davis wrote an article calling on Congress to provide federal funding to help schools reopen safely. The stalled Heroes Act includes $5 billion for emergency school facilities repairs, such as overhauling outdated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to improve airflow. As Ms. Davis explained, “Scrubbing surfaces makes us feel safer, but clean desks won’t matter if schools don’t have clean air”.
Recently, the Government Accountability Office estimated that 41 percent of school districts need to update or replace HVAC systems in at least half their school buildings; that’s about 36,000 schools. Even before Covid-19, more than 14 million school days were missed every year because of asthma, a chronic condition worsened by poor indoor air quality.
“Surface cleaning is very important along with other strategies to ensure a safe indoor environment regardless whether it’s an office or school classroom, but more emphasis should be based on the quality of the air”, stated Michael Smith, CEO for Purealizer Industries, a US based manufacturer for commercial air purifiers.
“Naturally, when you can physically wipe or spray an area with a disinfection product it’s more tangible compared air cleaning which you can’t see or touch. As businesses and schools reopen, I hope Congress will allocate funding to invest in school improvements which include indoor air quality upgrades which traditionally has been overlooked for years especially as we have all learned how easily airborne infectious diseases can be transmitted, ” said Smith.