Did you hear? Allegheny County on Monday announced the first cohort for its Indoor Air Quality Improvement pilot program with 20 childcare programs in environmental justice communities.
Here’s what’s going on:
The goal of the pilot is to reduce the spread of respiratory infections and viruses through ventilation improvements. The pilot will also monitor whether changes reduce the frequency and severity of asthma flares in children, and if children's program attendance rates improve.
The cost-free pilot was initiated through a partnership between the state Department of Children Initiatives and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD). The $462,000 pilot is funded through ACHD's COVID-19 Emergency Action Fund and a PA-DOH grant. Because of the variable nature of the physical locations and the varied solutions the cost per childcare facility will vary.
The engineering firm Stantec is evaluating the centers to help identify the best solution for each physical space - whether that means improving ventilation systems or installing plug-in HEPA filters.
In total, 76 facilities applied to be part of the pilot opened for application on Aug. 17. In early September, 20 providers were selected.
The pilot measures impact through child care infectious disease tracking (before and after) and the number of days children are absent due to chronic respiratory illnesses.
The departments hope the pilot can demonstrate success and be used as a state-level model to support regulated childcare facilities in improving air quality, particularly for children with chronic respiratory illnesses like asthma.
The data will be tracked for a year, hoping to continue if the pilot is extended beyond its June 30, 2024 end date.
Some good news: Funds are expected to be available in 2024 for other participants.
The first cohort includes the following facilities: