Indoor Air Quality, Smoke and COVID-19

IStock 1020505924

In the past, indoor air quality (IAQ) primarily related to indoor air pollutants such as mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), off-gassing from our flooring and furniture, and even the cleaning supplies we use.

COVID-19 and Indoor Air Quality

COVID-19 has created another level of concern for IAQ. It is thought that COVID-19 spreads mainly through person-to-person contact, but there is uncertainty about different routes of transmission.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends “increasing ventilation with outdoor air and air filtration as part of a larger strategy that includes social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings or masks, surface cleaning and disinfecting, handwashing and other precautions.”

Reducing Airborne Transmission of COVID-19

  • Direct airflow so that any fans do not blow directly from one person to another
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows to allow cross ventilation
  • Open the highest and lowest window on each floor
  • Use your bathroom fan when the bathroom is in use and continuously if possible
  • Use an HRV or ERV ventilation system and be sure that it’s working

According to the EPA, “the most effective ways to improve your indoor air are to reduce or remove sources of pollutants and to ventilate with clean outdoor air.” Consider portable air cleaners and/or upgrading air filters on forced air heating systems, air conditioners, etc.

What is a MERV Number?

Air filters for forced air furnaces are rated by MERV numbers. What’s a MERV number? The higher the MERV number, the smaller the particles it will filter out. MERV ratings for residential furnaces go from one to 20.

  • A nine to 13 MERV range is considered efficient
  • Filters should be changed at least every six months

For more information, visit EPA’s new Indoor Air and COVID-19 webpage.