Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Lidia Morawska will lead a new $5 million training centre to reduce airborne infections through improved indoor air quality for better public health  in new building systems.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Advanced Building Systems Against Airborne Infection Transmission aims to reduce airborne infection transmission by improving indoor air quality while maintaining comfort and efficiency.

Morawska said researchers had been emphasising the need for a public health revolution in relation to indoor air quality for a long time.

“I firmly believe the centre will be a catalyst for revolution and bring us closer to clean indoor air becoming the norm,” Professor Morawska said.

“Our work will see Australian building system manufacturing companies, working alongside international companies, as forerunners in establishing the new norm.”

Morawska from the QUT School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the Faculty of Science is director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (LAQH).

She said every year acute respiratory illnesses, such as colds and influenza, caused an estimated 18 billion upper airway infections and 340 million lower respiratory infections, resulting in more than 2.7 million deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses.

“Respiratory infectious diseases spread mainly by airborne transmission, which is the inhalation from the air of virus or bacteria-laden particles generated during breathing, speaking and all other human respiratory activities,” she said.

“Protecting building occupants from airborne infection in all shared interior spaces must be strategically controlled.

“This has never previously been envisioned outside specialised sections of health care facilities.”

Centre outcomes will include new intelligent building systems, improved building technologies, quantitative methods for building control, evidence for policymaking and recommendations for operational guidelines.

Wide-ranging benefits will include the reduced health and economic burden of inadequate indoor air and Australia’s increased competitiveness in the demand for next-level building systems.

The centre, to be located at QUT Gardens Point campus, will include international experts and partners from Australia, USA, Italy, Finland, China, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

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