By Bob Krell, Publisher, Healthy Indoors Magazine —
The COVID-19 pandemic created an acute awareness about the need for improvements of our indoor environments. And, as sure as mold crops up after a flood, a host of would-be providers of “IAQ solutions” have appeared in the marketplace. Commercial facilities, schools, and residential consumers are clamoring for the “silver bullet” and many manufacturers and service providers are touting that they have the answer.
SARS Cov-2 has been cited as a once-in-a-century catastrophic event. It may also be a once-in-a-career opportunity to capitalize on hysteria from the pandemic to cash in on unprecedented sales. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a potential golden goose for cash to finance products and services that would purportedly improve indoor environments, albeit with a somewhat limited focus towards COVID-19 prevention. Loose cash, global pandemic fears, and a host of “solutions”—many of which are unproven. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a bit, it seems, judging by the bevy of critical press and social media buzz lambasting many cleaning/sanitizing efforts as “hygiene theater” and some air purifying technologies as ineffective or even potentially having negative impacts on occupied indoor spaces. Things may have gotten a little crazy out there, to the bewilderment of facility managers and general consumers. How are those in either sector able to make informed decisions about selecting IAQ-related products and/or services?
In this country, don’t expect federal regulators like the EPA, FTC, or CPSC to weed out the snake oil solutions for you—the mechanisms really aren’t in place to do that, unfortunately. This is truly a buyer-beware market! Then what? Credible guidance is out there, often contained in the articles and social media postings from cognizant authorities in the research and academic communities. You have to dig.
Healthy Indoors has labored to share valuable information via our publication and through our Healthy Indoors LIVE Show in the past several months, covering numerous topics related to viable IAQ Solutions. One comment that has stuck with me was made our guest Vinny Lobdell of Healthway. He said, “There’s really no bad technology for air cleaning/purification—they all have their applications. The key is to select the right combination of technologies for your particular circumstances.” Of course, herein lies the problem: You need to either have the requisite knowledge to make those selections, or you need to have a trustworthy expert make recommendations for you. On another one of our other shows, Dr. Richard Corsi suggested that it is often best to stick to tried & true technologies like HEPA filtration and activated carbon to remove contaminants from the air, which I can’t argue with. If a proposed solution’s claims are based on anything other than independent validation by a credible third-party, they are likely just marketing puffery from the provider.