Before the next pandemic, it’s time to regulate indoor air quality

Just like the government mandates clean water and food, scientists argue that well-filtered and ventilated air inside our offices and homes should be guaranteed.

Whenever humans have learned a way that diseases spread, they’ve tried to mitigate that harm with far-reaching changes. We found out water can carry diseases such as cholera, so we built out infrastructure to disinfect our drinking water. We learned food can carry disease-causing germs, so we enacted widespread food safety regulations. Now, researchers are hoping that by acknowledging that COVID-19 can spread through the air, we’ll finally improve our ventilation standards for buildings to mitigate the spread of any airborne disease.

At the beginning of May, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC updated its guidance on how the virus spreads to acknowledge that when an infected person breathes out respiratory droplets, the virus can travel through the air to infect someone more than 6 feet away and that adding clean air to a space can help mitigate transmission risk. Though the health agency did acknowledge airborne transmission back in October, it’s a change from previous guidance that said most infections came from “close contact,” and something researchers such as Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at University of Colorado, Boulder, have been long awaiting.

Throughout the pandemic, Jimenez has been working with a group of researchers to acknowledge airborne transmission of COVID-19, and to author papers on how to mitigate air transmission. In July, that group gathered even more support from scientists around the world to publish a letter with 239 signatories saying it was time to address COVID-19’s airborne transmission. Now, Jimenez and 38 other researchers have published a piece in the journal Science calling for a “paradigm shift” to combat indoor respiratory infections by making sure building ventilation systems improve, so that they’re filtering and moving clean air into spaces more frequently.

Airborne transmission has long been misunderstood, the researchers write; In the early 1900s, a health figure named Charles Chapin said respiratory diseases were likely spread through close contact via large droplets that quickly fall to the ground; he basically denied that airborne transmission, via smaller particles that could be inhaled, was possible, setting off decades of misconception. In the 1950s, scientists William F. Wells and Richard L. Riley proved that airborne transmission of tuberculosis was possible, but it still didn’t change how we handled indoor air broadly.

“Finally, we hope that it is accepted that not just this virus but all respiratory viruses and diseases likely go substantially or mostly through the air,” Jimenez says, “and we really need to up our game and consider cleaning indoor air, removing viruses, and providing air that doesn’t have pathogens as a priority for our societies, much like providing [clean] water has been a priority.”

The researchers call for mandating monitors of indoor air quality, for instance by outfitting public spaces with CO2 sensors that display how much exhaled air is accumulating in a space. Ventilation and filtration systems should also be improved, with higher standards for removing airborne pathogens than the current standards, which were mostly set for parameters such as temperature, odor control, and energy use. Higher ventilation would come at the costs of higher energy bills, so a “pandemic mode” could be added to buildings, Jimenez says. The normal mode would still offer more protection against respiratory diseases than currently exists, but a “pandemic mode” would ramp up ventilation even more (but also increase energy use) if a disease was rampant.

Retrofitting building systems or ensuring new buildings are up to such levels will come with an initial cost: estimates put it at around 1% of the initial construction costs. “People don’t want to do it if there’s no regulation because they’d rather save 1%,” Jimenez says. Instead, we’re paying for the cost of respiratory diseases—their added health care costs and productivity losses. Already, experts have estimated COVID-19 cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020. In the U.S. alone, the flu has an annual economic burden of $11.2 billion.

Echoing many other scientists, Jimenez says that the pandemic has put a spotlight on indoor air, a public health issue that has long gone ignored. Now, there’s an opportunity for that paradigm shift. The quality of indoor air has to become a priority, with technology and regulations to ensure that the air inside buildings is clean from colds, flus, and the next possible pandemic, “just as we expect,” the researchers write, “for the water coming out of our taps.”


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Carillon Miami Wellness Resort Announces Cutting-Edge Health Partnerships to Establish New Standard of Clean

Medical wellness resort partners with ActivePure® Technology and Applied Silver Inc to introduce hi-tech safety measures at the resort.
Michal Christine Escobar

Senior Editor (Hotels)
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Carillon Miami Wellness Resort has announced partnerships with ActivePure® Technology and Applied Silver Inc to set a new standard of cleanliness for the future of the hospitality industry. Used by organizations including hospitals and national professional sports teams, these new partnerships allow Carillon Miami to incorporate the latest technology advancements to protect against COVID-19 and other harmful microbes at the property.

Carillon Miami is the first resort to partner with these companies and introduce the advance technology to the hospitality industry to further protect against the transmission of COVID-19. This is in addition to the resort’s existing protocols in place including being a Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide destination.

Sanitization and safety is top-of-mind amongst consumers, and this will continue for years to come. Our team found it important to introduce long-term solutions that can seamlessly integrate into the resort’s operations processes that protect our guests and team members from COVID-19 and other viruses,” said Patrick Fernandes, Executive Managing Director of Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. “By collaborating with ActivePure® Technology and Applied Silver we are able to ensure our air quality, hard surfaces and linens are clean and safe. Our goal through these partnerships is to serve as a connecter for the hospitality industry and help in introducing these technologies at other destinations and businesses as well.”

  • ActivePure® Technology: Originally developed by NASA, ActivePure® Technology is used in more than 50 million businesses and homes in over 70 countries around the world. It is the only air purification solution clinically proven to kill over 99.9% of SARS-COV-2 virus in air and on surfaces within minutes, along with other airborne viruses, bacteria and molds. The system is able to work in occupied rooms allowing for a seamless integration into the resort environment. ActivePure® will be featured in Carillon Miami’s apartment accommodations and public areas of the resort, ensuring a clean and safe airflow throughout the property.
  • Applied Silver’s SilvaClean®: Applied Silver’s SilvaClean® solution is a gentle, yet powerful continuous antimicrobial fabric-based protectant that eliminates 99.9% of germs including disease-causing bacteria, mold, mildew and odors. It is the only solution that transforms regular textiles into antimicrobial textiles through the laundry process, allowing resorts to disinfect and protect their soft good items and linens including sheets, blankets, towels, robes, linens, curtains, pillow cases and beyond. Carillon Miami receives the SilvaClean service through their linen service partner, Crown Linen.

For more information about Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, please visit www.carillonhotel.com.

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