How childcare and early learning programs are taking simple steps to improve indoor air quality: A closer look at how it works

By Leslie Daniels, Communications Specialist

Improving indoor air quality is one of the most important and long-lasting approaches to reducing the spread of COVID-19. With the emergence of lower-cost options that can make a difference, Public Health has been working alongside child care providers to reduce the virus’ spread and to promote other health benefits by improving indoor air quality.

For child care providers who have survived business closures due to the pandemic, easing parents’ concerns about their children’s health and safety has been a top priority.  Routinely sanitizing surfaces and vacuuming carpets is important, but children can still inhale particles like dust mites, allergens, and pollen that hover above the floor where children play and nap. That’s why improving air quality can make a big difference and can have benefits for all kids, including those with asthma.

Here’s how it works: Ventilation pulls more outside air into indoor spaces to dilute the virus and other pollutants. Filtration removes viruses and pollutants by trapping them in a filter.

As a child care provider, you can take steps to improve the air quality by 1) routinely maintaining the heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) systems and ensuring they are performing at the highest ventilation and filtration the system allows, 2) using portable HEPA air cleaners, and 3) opening your windows if possible.

The short clips below show how it works on the ground.

Getting started and accessing technical assistance to improve indoor air quality

We talked to Daniel Hwang, Health and Environment Investigator, to learn about steps child care providers can take to improve indoor air quality. Our indoor air experts visited Grandma Lucy Childcare in Burien to assess what the space looked like and what needed to be done to help improve the air quality.

HEPA filters and small spaces

Ventilation needs can vary from one space to another. From opening windows, to putting a HEPA cleaner in your home-based child care, to making a DIY four-sided air filter, there are many different options to help improve ventilation and filtration to make it safer for staff and kiddos.

On this particular visit, the Public Health team worked to find ways to improve ventilation in a small space where opening windows isn’t feasible because of outdoor air pollution.

How a HEPA filter works to remove COVID-19 from the air

Our technical assistance team answers questions that child care providers like Cecilia, owner of Grandma Lucy Childcare, may have, such as how HEPA filters work to clean the air and reduce the risk of COVID-19.  Here Cecilia shows how easy it is to use the portable HEPA air cleaner.  

Technical assistance available

Public Health offers free technical assistance to help child care programs in King County improve their ventilation and air quality.

Complete the Ventilation & Indoor Air Quality Assistance Request Form to get started. For assistance with the form or an interpreter, please contact or 206-477-5166.

Additional resources:

Originally posted 6/23/22