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EPA offers $50,000 for IAQ solutions to smoke

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a design challenge to encourage the development of IAQ innovations that offer protection from smoke exposure during wildfires.

In partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, the EPA is offering five prizes – each up to US$10,000 (AU$13,000) – for low-cost approaches to clean fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from indoor air.

New technologies that offer added benefits – for example, cooling or operability during a power outage – will be considered favourably.

The EPA notes that exposure to fine particulate matter, a major pollutant found in wildfire smoke, is linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.

“Current public health advice for protection from smoke exposure during wildfires is to stay indoors, preferably in a ‘clean room’ with filtered air, close windows and doors, and minimise physical exertion,” says the EPA.

“Owning and maintaining air purifiers currently on the market is unaffordable for many people who are at risk of health effects from exposure to wildfire smoke. In addition, wildfires often occur in the summer and early fall in regions of the United States where many homes do not have air conditioning, so closing windows can lead to very high indoor temperatures.”

The design challenge is seeking theoretical submissions at this stage. The author of the winning written solution may be invited to participate in a follow-on competition, in which the submission of a prototype solution for testing may be required.

Submissions to the challenge must be received by 11.59pm US Eastern Time on May 17, 2021.

For details of the challenge, click here.

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