Caring Wisely FY 2023 Project Contest

UCSF Clean Air Initiative

Proposal Status: 
  • PROPOSAL TITLE:  UCSF Clean Air Initiative
  • ABSTRACT - Form an air quality plan to monitor CO2 and airborne particles, demonstrate quantified improvements in ventilation, meet California standards for air exchanges per hour (ACH) and make standard across UC campuses.  This will: 
    • Improve clinic access 
    • Improve health equity 
    • Reduce hospital-acquired conditions and infections 
    • Reduce staff sickness absences
  • TEAM - Occupational Health, nominating Ralph Gonzales 
  • PROBLEM - We are in an ongoing airborne pandemic and there will be future pandemics to be faced.  Costs incurred will be any necessary upgrading of HVAC systems/mechanical ventilation, installing CO2 monitors in each UCSF space with accessible online dashboard, additional air cleaning hepa filters where required.  COVID reinfections carry cumulative health risks, nosocomial infections should be eliminated.  Protect UCSF staff and patient health, short and long term, saving thousands of dollars and expanding accessibility for patients. Becoming a leader in addressing air quality now will demonstrate UCSF's commitment to health excellence.  Currently there are onsite staff testing COVID positive potentially spreading to other staff members and patients. 
  • TARGET -  The goal is to reduce staff and patient onsite COVID infections by controlling the air quality and ventilation of closed spaces, an essential measure for the prevention of aerosol risk situations.  Expected benefits will be reduced staff sickness hours, a healthy workforce with improved moral knowing air quality is being improved for their benefit, reduced nosocomial infections/length of patient stays, patients upon knowing of UCSF air quality standards seeking out UCSF for their care. UCSF will be ready for the next anticipated airborne pandemic and increasing frequency of climate change events
  • GAPS - The problem exists because while there are CA state guidelines for air quality they are not being implemented. People need to be educated how improving air quality is an achievable goal that has many health benefits, not only in an airborne pandemic, but also in an environment of increasing frequency of forest fires caused by climate change polluting the air, their long term effects are not yet understood.  Like our society expects clean drinking water standards, we should expect clean air standards.
  • INTERVENTION - Evaluation of indoor spaces to assess what air cleaning intervention is required. When the online CO2 dashboard is operable, any CO2 measurement above a threshold of 800 ppm should lead to action in terms of ventilation/air filtering and/or reduction of the number of people admitted to a space. Staff have access campus wide to online CO2 dashboard, patients have access to clinics/patient areas. The only potential barrier to this project would be the initial cost which would be offset over time by reduced staff sickness absences and any potential lawsuits brought by patients for nosocomial infection. There are no negative adverse outcomes to cleaning the air, only positive.   
  • COST - I can only estimate the baseline costs to the health system will be recouped in projected savings from the proposed project
  • SUSTAINABILITY - Once the system is implemented there will be the cost of air filter replacement/regular functional assessments.  Unsure of key process owners. 
  • BUDGET - Line-item budget up to $50,000 - CO2 monitors for indoor UCSF spaces, set up of online CO2 monitoring dashboard with staff & patient access, additional air cleaning hepa filters where required (rooms without adequate mechanical or natural ventilation).