There is much pressure on the Government to open up Schools, Offices, Shops, Hotels and Pubs etc – all places where people congregate indoors. The Government has now produced a guideline roadmap of how society is to be gradually re-opened, and how we are to live with Covid-19 going forward.
Recent research was conducted in three Dublin Schools, from mid-October 2020 to the end of term, December 2020, into the quality of the air in the classrooms. The three schools were made up of two secondary and one primary school.
The results of that research were quite shocking, with very high, and dangerous, levels of CO2, which were regularly detected in the classrooms.
The HSE recommends an upper limit of 800ppm (parts per million) of CO2. This limit was breached consistently during school hours, with values over 1500ppm. Peaks of 3,803ppm (almost five times the recommended level) were recorded on many occasions.
The key to combat these dangerous elevations of CO2 is measuring the levels, monitoring them every 30 minutes, and then mitigating the situation with the relevant actions.
During class hours the following was found:
· The threshold of 800ppm was exceeded 82% of the time
· The average CO2 levels was 1062ppm
· The maximum CO2 level recorded was 3,803 ppm
Earlier this week, Dr Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, Infectious Diseases Consultant at St James’ Hospital in Dublin, said that CO2 monitors should be installed in classrooms, to allow for the safe resumption of schools.
The HSE has said that in schools that rely on natural ventilation, indoor air quality meters for monitoring CO2 levels should be used.
A new Irish start-up technology firm, ZiggyTec, based in Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, produce easy to read monitors, that can be easily fitted in schools around the country, to measure the quality of the air we breathe. These small air monitors can be fitted wirelessly, and use IoT (Internet of Things) to relay real time information of Air Quality in a given area, every 30 minutes.
This real time information on the quality of air can be relayed directly to the every classroom, via a simple wall mounted device, updated every 30 minutes. This information is also available via laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Teachers and pupils, equipped with the right information, can control the indoor air quality by the simple opening and closing of doors and windows.
Recent research from Harvard University, has indicated that air pollution can heighten the transmission of COVID19, making it critical that organisations measure, monitor, and mitigate the indoor air quality of classrooms and offices, when necessary.
Particulates in the air, especially where air pollution is high, or in poorly ventilated areas, can increase the rate of transmission. Research, found that ‘an increase of just 1 microgram of particulate matter per cubic metre corresponded to a 15% increase in COVID19 deaths’.
When levels reach excessive amounts, productivity is affected. Effects include drowsiness, headaches and even excessive heart rate.