By Mardianto Natanael Wangkanusa  I  30/08/2022  I  01.00 PM

Air quality has long been a societal concern worldwide. Many international agencies and national level governments have started to re-evaluate their air quality standards and regulations. This is due to air pollution is now considered as a major environmental issue that can negatively affect the health of the global population (Li, et al. 2023; European Environment Agency, 2023; United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 2023).  Various existing studies also point out that air pollution causes health hazards regardless of age (Soto-Martinez and Sly 2010; Adams and Requia 2017; Shin, et al. 2021). It is about the 7 million premature deaths annually caused by air pollution (WHO, 2023; UNECE, 2023).  

Questioning the air quality and impacts of polluted indoor and outdoor air, Venta Air Technologies (2023) writes that ‘indoor air pollution can be as harmful as outdoor pollution and is an important issue.’ United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) which ‘refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants’ (2022). Considering the people’s time spent indoors, King (2018) states that indoor air pollution is greater compared to outdoor air pollution. In the same line, EPA studies indicate that indoor pollutant levels are often 2 to 5 higher compared to outdoor levels. These levels can exceed 100 times higher than the outdoors levels of the same pollutants. To this, indoor air often more harmful compared to the outdoor air. People are dominantly exposed to indoor air as about 90 percent of their time spent indoor (indoor (Wallace, et al., 1986; Sundell, 2004; EPA 2022). 

The Covid-19 outbreak evoked the need to pay more attention to indoor air quality and accelerated the preventive actions facing the pandemic. With the physical/social distancing and stay-at-home regulations implemented to prevent virus contamination, the betterment of indoor air control has inevitably become the focus of a national strategic approach during the pandemic. As per 6 April 2023, WHO reported that there have been 762,201,169 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 6,893,190 deaths. This pandemic has also highlighted the urgency for indoor air quality control. An immediate response is needed which to re-evaluate IAQ standards and controls through regulations implemented by many nations to discover a properly aligned and widely us prevention strategy for long-term dealing with the pandemic.  

Furthermore, many current studies have also found a correlation between air pollution and the spread of COVID-19. Fadaei points out that the transmission he COVID-19 occurs through close contacts, aerosols, droplets, and vomits (2021). Aboulesih notes that 93% of human' activities are held inside the room during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is necessary for house owners and office managements to maintain the IAQ through filtering, cooling, and heating processes to control the incoming air through doors and windows. Moreover, Air circulation and ventilation are essential for self-isolation/quarantine to reduce aerosol COVID-19 transmission. Good air circulation can prevent the fall of oxygen saturation (20211); therefore, more attention should be placed to IAQ control during the pandemic.  

In addition, high levels of air pollution and its exposure may increase the COVID-19 transmission risk (World Economic Forum, 2020), especially the exposure to NO2 and PM2.5 (Ali and Islam, 2020). Bacteria and fungi have also been a concern during the pandemic. Research shows the Bacteria and Fungi infections in COVID-19 patients (Zhou et al. 2020; Garcia-Vidal et al. 2021), which can potentially worsen their conditions. In addition, more attention must also be placed on poor communities, as they are susceptible to indoor air pollution exposures (Ali and Islam, 2020). 

Since 2021, SMART CITY Universitas Indonesia has conducted an evaluation of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) regulations related to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) implemented in both International Agencies and national regulations worldwide in comparison to Indonesia. This research aims to review current government regulations and suggest policy enhancement related to IAQ in Indonesia. SMART CITY Universitas Indonesia compiled research outputs in the form of Draft Academic Studies and Draft IAQ Standards. On the re-evaluation of the national level regulations, it is found that Indonesian regulations related to IAQ are still fragmented and need to be adjusted and updated referring to the newly published international standards which are seen to be more suitable and applicable considering the current pandemic situation.  

This research is expected not to only helps provide references for national-level regulation improvements but also can be used as a consideration to prevent and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, as well as strategies to anticipate the potential spread of other airborne diseases. Following this research, SMART CITY Universitas Indonesia is currently assisting the government to actualize the policy on people's right to live healthily through the conduct of the academic study, FGDs, dissemination, and parameter testing in buildings. Moreover, the team will also assist the government to implement various regulations to improve air conditioning standards that pay more attention to health aspects.  

Finally, considering the global pandemic that is not yet over, people are expected to co-exist and live with COVID-19. To this, both the national government and its community should work together to have healthier air quality. In Indonesia, the currently available IAQ regulations are still fragmented. They should be adjusted and integrated accordingly with the newly published international standards to be applicable in Indonesia.





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