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The Editors

Is the Air in Your Office Fit to Breathe?

Better ventilation in workplaces, gathering spaces and other public buildings should be a post-Covid priority.

Maybe not a long-term solution.

Maybe not a long-term solution.

Photographer: Daniel Roland/AFP via Getty Images

Covid-19 has taught the world quite a few things. Not least, the value of fresh air. Indoors — in restaurants, church halls, nursing homes, meatpacking plants — the contagion spread easily, as virus particles exhaled by the infected hung in the air to be inhaled by new victims. Outside, flows of air dispersed those same aerosols enough to bring the spread of the disease almost to a stop. Schools, offices and other indoor spaces need better ventilation in order to minimize the harm from new coronaviruses, cold and flu viruses, and every other sort of airborne pathogen.

This calls for rethinking the way indoor air is controlled. New guidance on safer ventilation in schools is urgent, and currently under discussion. State and local building codes should also be revised. Economizing on buildings’ use of energy is vital in the fight against climate change — but the need for effective ventilation, which often requires more energy, can no longer be ignored.