Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a fundamental yet frequently underestimated aspect of public health, especially highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This often-neglected facet impacts health, productivity, and learning. In an article published in SCIENCE, 40+ international experts, including Professor Joseph Allen, Director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings program, call for national IAQ standards and provide a roadmap for healthier indoor spaces. In this blog, we provide three key takeaways from our perspective:

Article published in SCIENCE magazine: Title and authors

Key Takeaway 1: The Imperative for IAQ Standards

The global pandemic has underscored the critical role of IAQ in public health, revealing a glaring absence of regulated performance standards in public spaces.

The lack of legislated IAQ standards exposes indoor environments to pollutants and airborne disease risks. The article emphasizes the stark contrast between the rigorous regulations for outdoor air quality and the relatively lax stance on indoor air despite significant time spent indoors. Instituting robust IAQ standards is not just a matter of policy but a crucial step toward safeguarding health and well-being in indoor spaces.

Key Takeaway 2: Opportunities in IAQ Monitoring

Proactive IAQ monitoring is a gateway to managing healthier indoor environments.

The article highlights the transformative potential of monitoring key IAQ parameters such as PM2.5 and CO2 utilizing advancements in lower-cost sensor technology. These tools allow us to “see” what is happening indoors, which helps identify and manage sources of indoor air quality issues. By actively monitoring IAQ, stakeholders can make informed decisions that not only address immediate health risks but also foster long-term well-being and productivity among indoor.

Key Takeaway 3: Consensus on Higher Ventilation Standards

The push for enhanced ventilation targets, well above the “acceptable” minimum, is gaining traction as a vital move to protect public health.

The SCIENCE article underscores a growing consensus among experts on the need to revise ventilation rates beyond the minimum “acceptable” targets that have been promoted for the past two decades. The group of international experts recommends 14 liters per second per person (14 l/s/p as a new minimum, which is approximately 30 cubic feet per minute per person (30 cfm/p). This new target aligns with previous recommendations. The Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s 2022 report advocates for ventilation rates that significantly exceed current standards, providing a “Good, Better, Best” strategy with 21, 30, and 30+ cfm/p thresholds, respectively. In the book “Healthy Buildings,” published in 2020, Allen and Harvard Business School professor John Macomber recommended 30 cfm/p as a target, highlighting the dual benefits of reducing exposure to respiratory pathogens and enhancing cognitive function performance.


The critical importance of IAQ has come to the forefront, with the pandemic serving as a catalyst for urgent action. The insights from the article provide a clear directive for implementing IAQ standards in public buildings, highlighting the benefits of such measures in enhancing health outcomes and reducing the public health burden of poor indoor air quality. By embracing a multifaceted strategy that includes indoor air quality monitoring, technological innovation, and regulatory support, we can make significant strides toward healthier, safer indoor environments for all. This endeavor is not just a public health mandate but a societal imperative.

Morawska, L., Allen, J.G., Bahnfleth, W., Bennett, B., Bluyssen, P.M., Boerstra, A., Buonanno, G., Cao, J., Dancer, S.J., Floto, A., Franchimon, F., Greenhalgh, T., Haworth, C., Hogeling, J., Isaxon, C., Jimenez, J.L., Kennedy, A., Kumar, P., Kurnitski, J., Li, Y., Loomans, M., Marks, G., Marr, L.C., Mazzarella, L., Melikov, A.K., Miller, S.L., Milton, D.K., Monty, J., Nielsen, P.V., Noakes, C., Peccia, J., Prather, K.A., Querol, X., Salthammer, T., Sekhar, C., Seppänen, O., Tanabe, S., Tang, J.W., Tellier, R., Tham, K.W., Wargocki, P., Wierzbicka, A., Yao, M. Mandating indoor air quality for public buildings. 2024. Science (383), 1418-1420.