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The Biden Administration and Congress have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that can be used in schools, public buildings, and other settings to improve indoor air quality.
The American Rescue Plan has $122 billion for schools and $350 billion for state, local, and Tribal Governments, which is available to support ventilation and filtration upgrades.
In addition to the financial support, the EPA has published a best practices guide, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other federal agencies, for improving indoor air quality and reducing the risk of spreading dangerous airborne particles.
Here are the basics
A clear set of recommendations are organized into four groups:
- Create a clean indoor air action plan that assesses indoor air quality, plans for upgrades and improvements, and includes HVAC inspections and maintenance.
- Optimize fresh air ventilation by bringing in and circulating clean outdoor air indoors.
- Enhance air filtration and cleaning using the central HVAC system and in-room air cleaning devices.
- Engage the building community by communicating with building occupants to increase awareness, commitment, and participation.
Ventilation refers to increasing the amount of outdoor air that comes indoors and lowering the concentration of indoor air pollutants, including airborne viruses. Opening windows and doors and adapting HVAC systems can bring more outdoor air.
When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies can help reduce viral particle concentration. The lower the concentration, the less likely viral particles can be inhaled into the lungs.
Filtration refers to removing microscopic particles of contaminant from the air that stays and recirculates through a building. Upgrading HVAC filters to a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 13 and arranging portable air cleaners in areas that are hard to ventilate or are densely populated can remove virus particles.