Statement of Support to WHO from Built Environment Experts
To: Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
Statement of Support from Built Environment Experts
We’re writing in support of the Commitment statement to the medical community and relevant international bodies from 239 scientists urging recognition that COVID-19 airborne spreads via aerosol based on current scientific evidence, as well as through larger droplets. The July 9 WHO briefing is promising towards creating building based solutions for the disease.
We strongly support the medical and health professionals’ model of doing no harm and applying the precautionary principles. We urge the World Health Organization (WHO) to work with built environment experts and recommend the adoption of indoor environment best practices to protect building occupants worldwide.
As design and built environment professionals, we can immediately apply the knowledge, based on scientific evidence, of clean indoor air and mitigation techniques using proven technology: enhanced natural air ventilation, high performance air filters, good ventilation rates, appropriate humidity control, robust sunlight or proper ultra-violet light. We can help to protect first responders, students, office workers, essential workers and all citizens. The built environment can be a great health equity equalizer.
If the WHO recommends best practice air standards now before vaccines and therapeutic solutions are available, it will have a strong effect towards raising the public’s awareness of places where they spend time. This recommendation is complementary to other existing WHO advice such as wearing face coverings. Citizens would be empowered to request clean indoor air environments in addition to following other WHO guidelines. We also hope an elevated air standard will be in place even after vaccines and therapeutic solutions are available. Indoor and outdoor air pollution has been a persistent problem especially for the most vulnerable populations for decades.
Thank you for your serious consideration of this recommendation. We believe time is of the essence as we are seeing a rise in infection rate around the globe.