Engineering Controls

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are a type of transmission mitigation strategy that does not involve the use of medications or vaccines. Currently, this website mostly focuses on engineering controls that can be built into public or commercial buildings like your local post office, thrift shop, or favorite diner.

Hierarchy of Controls

Most to Least Effective

Control Purpose Examples
Elimination Removal of pathogen or its source Removing animals reservoirs from wet markets
Engineering Preventative measures built into a facility Upper-room UVGI, Air Filtration
Administrative Preventative protocols and practices Social Distancing, Remote Work
PPE Personal Protective Equipment Surgical Masks, Disposable Gloves

Retail, food service, schools, and workplaces are often where we are exposed to pathogens. When someone is ill, it is expected that they’ll follow some sort of administrative controls or PPE, as opposed to continuing their life as normal; however, this is hardly the reality of American culture. Between the fear of calling in sick to work and the demands of schoolwork, many individuals won’t take the altruistic action of staying home or wearing protective clothing, even amidst a pandemic. This is part of the reason that engineering controls are more effective than other NPIs--they don’t rely on the agency of individuals.


Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation for decontaminating air, water and surfaces.
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MERV Filters

Improving air filtration can remove help remove infectious agents before recirculation.
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HEPA Filters

High efficiency particulate air filters that remove 99.7% of particles .3µ in size.
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Natural Ventilation

Opening windows and doors act as a low-cost alternative to HVAC systems.
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Mechanical Ventilation

Increased airflow from HVAC systems helps dilute droplet nuclei.
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Antimicrobial Copper

Plating surfaces with heavy metals can quickly deactivate a variety of microbes.
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Optimizing room humidity prevents the spread certain pathogens and microbe growth.
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Monitoring room temperature may reduce transmission, especially with optimal humidity.
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Sneeze Guards

Placing plastic barriers between face-to-face interactions serve as a sneeze-guard.
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Physical Distancing

Markings, seating, and innovative furniture to reduce transmission from direct contact.
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Airflow Direction

Strategically placed vents can prevent transmission across far and close distances.
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Occupancy Limits

Crowded spaces can drastically increase one's risk for infection.
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Air Purification

Clean air is essential for indoor building quality and decontamination.
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Pandemic Design

Innovative building designs are used to optimize health and safety.
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