Experts say new standards are needed for indoor air quality in public buildings.

A team of international experts led by Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska has put forward a comprehensive blueprint for national indoor air quality standards in public buildings. 

Their research highlights a critical need to monitor and regulate levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and PM2.5 particles - fine pollutants capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and bloodstream - alongside adequate ventilation rates.

“Most countries do not have any legislated indoor air quality (IAQ) performance standards for public spaces that address concentration levels of IA pollutants,” Prof Morawska says. 

She notes the accessibility and affordability of CO2 sensors as tools to gauge air quality and assess ventilation effectiveness in public spaces. 

“CO2 can serve as a proxy for occupant-emitted contaminants and pathogens and to effectively assess ventilation quality,” Prof Morawska said. 

Additionally, the blueprint suggests adopting the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines for PM2.5 levels but with tailored adjustments to reflect the shorter duration people spend in public spaces compared to the guidelines' 24-hour basis.

The experts also underline the importance of mechanical ventilation systems capable of countering the accumulation of pollutants and pathogens through adequate dilution and removal. 

“The technologies for measuring ventilation already exist...but monitoring ventilation rates...requires us to consider the number of people and their activities in the space to ensure adequate IAQ,” Prof Morawska explained. 

Furthermore, she advocates for additional measures like air cleaning and disinfection as complementary strategies to enhance indoor air quality without significantly increasing outdoor air supply, thereby managing energy demands efficiently.

More details are accessible here.