A systematic approach to estimating the effectiveness of multi-scale IAQ strategies for reducing the risk of airborne infection of SARS-CoV-2

Jialei Shen, Meng Kong, Bing Dong, Michael J. Birnkrant, Jianshun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The unprecedented coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has made more than 125 million people infected and more than 2.7 million people dead globally. Airborne transmission has been recognized as one of the major transmission routes for SARS-CoV-2. This paper presents a systematic approach for evaluating the effectiveness of multi-scale IAQ control strategies in mitigating the infection risk in different scenarios. The IAQ control strategies across multiple scales from a whole building to rooms, and to cubical and personal microenvironments and breathing zone, are introduced, including elevated outdoor airflow rates, high-efficiency filters, advanced air distribution strategies, standalone air cleaning technologies, personal ventilation and face masks. The effectiveness of these strategies for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection are evaluated for specific indoor spaces, including long-term care facility, school and college, meat plant, retail stores, hospital, office, correctional facility, hotel, restaurant, casino and transportation spaces like airplane, cruise ship, subway, bus and taxi, where airborne transmission are more likely to occur due to high occupancy densities. The baseline cases of these spaces are established according to the existing standards, guidelines or practices. Several integrated mitigation strategies are recommended and classified based on their relative cost and effort of implementation for each indoor space. They can be applied to help meet the current challenge of ongoing COVID-19, and provide better preparation for other possible epidemics and pandemics of airborne infectious diseases in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107926
JournalBuilding and Environment
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Airborne transmission
  • COVID-19
  • IAQ
  • Mitigation strategy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Wells-riley model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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