A mechanical engineer looks at how to improve ventilation in schools

With students due to return to class later this month, indoor air filtration can be a concern for many parents as the highly transmissible variant of Omicron spreads.

Matthew Froese, a mechanical engineer at Integrated Designs, said there are a number of things that can be done with existing ventilation systems in buildings like schools and offices to help protect people from the virus. .

“I think the reality right now is that we are in the middle of a crisis situation and we have to make the best use of the equipment we have,” Froese said.

First, Froese said building owners need to make sure the system is working properly and making sure it is running all the time, especially when people are around.

“Every time so far that I have gone to look at a building, to look at the ventilation during the pandemic, there has been at least one system that is not running continuously,” he said.

Froese said you should also measure how much ventilation you have available to keep it up to current standards. A professional can help you.

He also said that you can add better filters to your current system. Failing that, Froese said you can add what’s called a portable HEPA filter.

“So you can just put it in a space anywhere you have an outlet that you can plug in and add some filtration locally,” Froese said.

Seven Oaks School Division Superintendent Brian O’Leary said the division has 150 HEPA filter units and uses them when needed.

“If there was a smaller classroom, more enclosed space, we would use some of them,” O’Leary said.

So what about the structure you call home?

Froese said there are things you can do around your home, like running the furnace around the clock, turning on a stove fan, or getting a HEPA filter. Although he said that the houses have limited ventilation capacity.

“From your house perspective, I guess whoever is in your house, you’re in the same soup,” Froese said.

He also recommends that owners of buildings with large ventilation systems establish a process to check their systems in summer and winter when conditions change.

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