It’s Time to Improve the Air We Breathe

Written by Comms Team, March 9, 2023

Peterborough Public Health advocates for improved indoor air quality where we live, learn, work, and play

While provincially legislated ‘lockdowns’, mask mandates, and gathering limits may be behind us, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. In the region served by Peterborough Public Health (PPH), there were 103 PCR confirmed COVID deaths in 2022 and there have been 3 COVID deaths year-to-date.

With all that we have learned, improvements to indoor air quality (IAQ) of the spaces we occupy are necessary and life-saving to control how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads.

Following the January 11th meeting of the Board of Health, PPH Board Chair Kathryn Wilson sent letters to relevant provincial ministries urging them to take action on improving IAQ in public settings. Additional letters were sent to all local public school boards, private schools and local governments to also consider improving IAQ. Recognizing the potential financial burden that this could create for organizations, including small businesses, a final letter was sent to the Federal Government to advocate exploration of grants, tax-breaks, or other incentives to support funding for making vital improvements to the IAQ of their establishments.

“Improved IAQ has long been known to have many benefits,” stated Wilson. “It’s time that health and safety legislation and building codes are updated to reflect this, and that financial supports are available to help small businesses make upgrades to their HVAC systems. A healthy economy starts with healthy people, and improving IAQ would go a long way to support both.” she added.

In December 2021, Dr. Piggott was the first Medical Officer of Health in Ontario to acknowledge that COVID-19 is an airborne virus and has continued to advocate for improved IAQ. “Improved IAQ should be considered among strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and will contribute to reducing the health impacts of other airborne contaminants such as radon, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide, supporting performance and decreasing absenteeism at school and work.” Stated Dr. Piggott.

“Improving IAQ doesn’t have to be complicated and it can be affordable.” said Joseph Fox, P. Eng. and Chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers IAQ Group. “One option is to use commercial air cleaners, or building Corsi Rosenthal boxes which are a more economic and effective solution. Opening doors and windows can also help. However, these are primarily temporary solutions and may not be practical in all situations. Ensuring that HVAC systems are operating as designed with ongoing verification is necessary. Investing in lower-cost upgrades such as using MERV-13-rated filters can also contribute to improved IAQ.” said Fox. Fox, like PPH, is advocating for an overall improved IAQ strategy to be legislated by all levels of Government to improve the air we’re breathing.

Visit for a list of the OSPE recommendations to improve indoor air quality.

For more information on IAQ, and to review the letters issued by the Board of Health, please visit:


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