Fast-track pathogen mitigation standard under development

ASHRAE has convened a project committee to develop an indoor air quality (IAQ) pathogen mitigation standard. The goal is to finalise the consensus-based, code-enforceable standard within six months.

“The health and wellbeing of building occupants are crucial factors that must be considered during the design, construction and operation phases of the building process,” says ASHRAE President Farooq Mehboob.

“ASHRAE’s long history of leadership in IAQ science and technology will provide broad-reaching guidance through this standard to help ensure the use of best practices for pathogen mitigation, which will assist in creating safer indoor spaces for us all.”

ASHRAE has set up a team of internationally recognised experts to work on an accelerated timeline to develop the standard, including members from Australia. The project committee is chaired by William Bahnfleth, who is a past president of ASHRAE and chaired the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. Bahnfleth is vice-chair of the ASHRAE Environmental Health Committee and vice-president of the Indoor Environmental Quality Global Alliance.

Delivery of the standard, known as ASHRAE Standard 241P Control of Infectious Aerosols, will include:

  • Both design and operation
  • Alternative paths (prescriptive or performance), in which equivalent clean air would be the goal
  • Testing, verification, documentation (commissioning) and periodic re-commissioning.

According to ASHRAE, the increased focus on IAQ by governments and the public, along with the convergence of the flu, respiratory syncytial (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) threatening public health, makes development of the pathogen mitigation standard of even greater importance. The organisation notes that jurisdictions and building owners are looking for a reputable and non-biased source of guidance and science-based building standards.

“Airborne transmission of pathogens is of concern to the public writ-large, and governments are responding,” says ASHRAE. “In March 2022, the US government launched the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which included recommendations to improve ventilation and filtration in buildings. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge was also launched, along with a Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality in October 2022.”

Photo by Adrien Olicho.

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