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Experts eye ventilation improvements as COVID spikes continue

As another COVID-19 subvariant spikes around the country, experts want to mitigate further risks with indoor air quality control.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 9:23 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Another COVID-19 subvariant is causing a new spike in cases in some areas across the U.S. But as the country tries to live with the potentially deadly virus, health and technology experts are working to mitigate risks, with a push to improve indoor air quality to help curb COVID.

“Improving the quality of our indoor air through having adequate ventilation in the space will reduce our risk,” said Dr. Krystall Pollitt from Yale University.

Pollitt focuses on environmental health sciences at Yale. She said better ventilation will cut some risk in places like schools, but she cautions ventilation overhauls are not going to make indoor spaces completely safe.

“We also have to think about how many kids are going to be in that classroom, what are they doing in that classroom? So is it going to be a very packed space where they’re playing wind and brass instruments where we have a lot of aerosols being generated?” said Pollitt.

The Biden White House recently released a so-called “Clean Air in Buildings Challenge”, laying out a roadmap for building owners to inspect and maintain their HVAC systems, circulating outdoor air indoors, and enhancing air filtration. Some in the biodefense community, like Eric Schlote’s company Synexis, are getting involved in the fight for reduced transmission.

“It goes everywhere the air goes, and it reduces microbial load, viruses, molds on air and surfaces,” said Schlote of his company’s “Dry Hydrogen Peroxide” technology.

Schlote said the technology deployed in indoor spaces fights viruses and bacteria. He said their product takes naturally occurring oxygen and humidity from the air and is reused to zap bacteria.

Schlote notes they are already seeing success in children’s hospitals and other indoor environments. The Synexis CEO argues indoor air quality is a national security issue, and he hopes to be involved in the White House’s action plan to make business and schools low-risk as the search for a new, safe, normal continues.

“Filtration’s important, ventilation’s important. We augment that,” said Schlote.

The American Rescue Plan passed last year provided $122 billion to schools. The White House said those funds can be used for ventilation and filtration upgrades.

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