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Airborne transmission and poorly ventilated buildings

  • 15-07-2020 1:16pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,756 ✭✭✭ the corpo


    I hope I'm not being cheeky posting this, and won't be offended at a delete, but I thought it may be of interest (or might warrant merging into a more appropriate thread).

    Our magazine has a feature on airborne transmission and the WHO position, specifically in relation to ventilation. It's ordinarily behind a paywall etc., but we've made this issue and it's articles free to read.

    "Dead air - airborne covid-19 and poorly ventilated buildings

    In the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis, there was little official recognition that airborne transmission was a risk. Has that view changed, and what role will building ventilation play when winter approaches?"

    https://passivehouseplus.ie/magazine/insight/dead-air-airborne-covid-19-and-poorly-ventilated-buildings


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,326 ✭✭✭ ginoginelli


    Excellent read.

    Mechanical ventilation is going to be vital in the winter months, I would hope there are some set rules and regulations in offices and like by then.


  • Registered Users Posts: 823 ✭✭✭ _Puma_


    Excellent article. Indoor Air quality has always been a major component in Passive. Maybe we can start to seriously think about the building regs and why we are pushing heat pumps instead of just going all in down passive route. The benefits of passive just keep stacking up.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭ Season 2


    I've been banging this drum for months. It maddens me how little focus there has been on ventilation. It's all 2 meters this and wash your hands that. I mentioned it to my boss at work to a blank stare.

    As it is windows all over my building are shut unless opened because someone is too warm. Thankfully I'm working from home mainly now.

    I was in a restaurant at the weekend and windows shut solid.

    Why so little focus on something so simple. Open the damn windows.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,187 ✭✭✭✭ _Kaiser_


    Season 2 wrote: »
    I've been banging this drum for months. It maddens me how little focus there has been on ventilation. It's all 2 meters this and wash your hands that. I mentioned it to my boss at work to a blank stare.

    As it is windows all over my building are shut unless opened because someone is too warm. Thankfully I'm working from home mainly now.

    I was in a restaurant at the weekend and windows shut solid.

    Why so little focus on something so simple. Open the damn windows.

    Same situation in our offices. Windows either can't be opened, or mails go around from Facilities complaining that people opening those that can is messing with the aircon. :rolleyes:

    Thankfully it's looking as though I'll be one of those who will be let WFH indefinitely when they start opening up the offices (to a fraction of the previous capacity) so that suits me just fine.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,441 ✭✭✭ Tork


    They put triple glazing into my workplace and they don't open very wide at all. Long before this ever started, we used to say we'd love to take the side wall out of the place and air it out because of the stale air in there. The building dates from the late 80s afaik.


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  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 17,584 Mod ✭✭✭✭ ixoy


    Ventilation in our work place is terrible too and yep, another guess where you're not to open windows. I always felt the ventilation contributed to illnesses and so on - you could frequently feel better just when you stepped outside.
    It's an interesting topic that will be difficult to sort out in a lot of places.

    WFH for the foreseeable and in the office, at best, on a limited basis but it's still something that could be looked at.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,205 Mod ✭✭✭✭ hmmm


    Season 2 wrote: »
    As it is windows all over my building are shut unless opened because someone is too warm. Thankfully I'm working from home mainly now.

    I was in a restaurant at the weekend and windows shut solid.

    Why so little focus on something so simple. Open the damn windows.
    Same on public transport. One of the simplest things we can do to dramatically lower the risk is open the windows. There's always some gob****e going around closing the windows when they get on - wear a jumper, it's less hassle than a ventilator.

    Indoor anything is a risk, this has been repeated over and over. Recirculated air is particularly nasty. We knew this from early on with the studies from Korea, particularly the call centre Covid study. Keep the windows open, or let the HVAC engineers at it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭ Season 2


    Amazing how little traction this thread is getting. Irish people just aren't getting the ventilation angle.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,088 ✭✭✭ LadyMayBelle


    Really glad this has been posted, it's been a concern I've had for a while. I'm due back to work in a few weeks, but office opens Monday. No windows in any room. Air con in hallways. Work I do (counselling type work) means spending an hour at a time in a room with at least one other person. Has me rightly worried as we personally have been adhering to distancing with our families, sticking with outdoors visits etc and then have to plunge into 8 hours in a windowless building, 4 of which will be spent in a windowless room with no a/c.


  • Registered Users Posts: 825 ✭✭✭ The chan chan man


    On the other hand we’re currently researching future offices without AC. Covid has been found within AC units during tests in Singapore, if it’s sucking it up it’s spitting it back out..


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  • Registered Users Posts: 72,022 ✭✭✭✭ Atlantic Dawn


    If there's AC opening a window is idiotic, it's like opening your fridge to cool your beer. If buildings are by the roadside opening the windows will bring in diesel emissions that will do more long term damage to staff than Covid will.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,187 ✭✭✭✭ _Kaiser_


    If there's AC opening a window is idiotic, it's like opening your fridge to cool your beer. If buildings are by the roadside opening the windows will bring in diesel emissions that will do more long term damage to staff than Covid will.

    The problem is the AC rarely if ever works in a large office and is always set to accommodate those who are too cold (because God forbid they just wore a jumper) and roasts everyone else.

    Or the wall controls are disabled relying on iffy at best thermostats to control it.

    As someone said above, absolutely are they a cause of mass illness in an office under those circumstances


  • Registered Users Posts: 72,022 ✭✭✭✭ Atlantic Dawn


    _Kaiser_ wrote: »
    The problem is the AC rarely if ever works in a large office and is always set to accommodate those who are too cold (because God forbid they just wore a jumper) and roasts everyone else.

    Or the wall controls are disabled relying on iffy at best thermostats to control it.

    As someone said above, absolutely are they a cause of mass illness in an office under those circumstances

    Most of the problems are caused by females coming in to the office in basically beachwear during the summer months and moaning it's too cold. A shirt should be minimum spec in deciding temperature.

    20 should be plenty, all year round.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭ Season 2


    Really glad this has been posted, it's been a concern I've had for a while. I'm due back to work in a few weeks, but office opens Monday. No windows in any room. Air con in hallways. Work I do (counselling type work) means spending an hour at a time in a room with at least one other person. Has me rightly worried as we personally have been adhering to distancing with our families, sticking with outdoors visits etc and then have to plunge into 8 hours in a windowless building, 4 of which will be spent in a windowless room with no a/c.

    That's a worry alright, no windows and no ventilation. There must be some ventilation in the ceilings of those rooms. Otherwise it would get extremely stale over time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,088 ✭✭✭ LadyMayBelle


    Season 2 wrote: »
    That's a worry alright, no windows and no ventilation. There must be some ventilation in the ceilings of those rooms. Otherwise it would get extremely stale over time.

    Not confident on that. I went in and took photos so I could ask... doesn't appear to be. Type of rooms that would hold the smell of smoke all day if we had a smoker in there first thing, say. Obv doors left open in between appointments, but it's still four hours (non consecutive) in a room with different people.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,447 ✭✭✭ munchkin_utd


    On the other hand we’re currently researching future offices without AC. Covid has been found within AC units during tests in Singapore, if it’s sucking it up it’s spitting it back out..
    in the case in the Tönnies meat plant in Germany in Gütersloh a few weeks back, where over 1500 were infected, the air conditioning unit is thought to have been one of the main causes of spread (along with people working 1 foot away with each other in a cold envorinment with no masks, eating in a crowded canteen, migrant workers living in shared accomodation, and probable political corruption to allow the standards be so low in the first place)

    The AC was specifically an issue as it had no filters at all, and recycled 100% of the air. If you were doing an experiment on how to maximise the infection in an enclosed space then this would be it. They were destined to have a bit of a large outbreak, but that it was THAT large seems to be down to the AC.

    They are fixing the problem by installing physical and UV filters plus mixing some fresh air, along with more spacing, installing dividers between workers, extra canteen facilities and better worker accomodation.

    You'd wonder what factor AC plays in the likes of USA or Israel where they have a warm climate and need of cooling down the air indoors ? Even if it isnt proactively sucking it up and spreading it, to have effective AC you normally keep the fresh air coming in from outside to a minium by closing all doors and windows which in itsself is a danger.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,830 ✭✭✭✭ leahyl


    We don't have windows in our office - just an emergency exit at the back of it. We have the lights on every day - virtually no natural light coming in. I mentioned this recently to my manager about ventilation and they said that this is being addressed. I'm a bit worried about it to be honest.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,088 ✭✭✭ LadyMayBelle


    leahyl wrote: »
    We don't have windows in our office - just an emergency exit at the back of it. We have the lights on every day - virtually no natural light coming in. I mentioned this recently to my manager about ventilation and they said that this is being addressed. I'm a bit worried about it to be honest.

    Yeah I'm surprised it's not been talked about more with many people back to work again soon


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,035 ✭✭✭ thecretinhop


    excellent thread. lol at dawn ur right bout women whining turning up temps.
    also very interesting the 1918 spanish flu, in Boston they put patients out in gardens had all windows open in hospital, they saw a dramatic decrease in cases doing that....


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,756 ✭✭✭ the corpo


    It will be a massive consideration in school reopenings too, but I don't know that the issue has even crossed the Department's radar...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 72,022 ✭✭✭✭ Atlantic Dawn


    excellent thread. lol at dawn ur right bout women whining turning up temps.
    also very interesting the 1918 spanish flu, in Boston they put patients out in gardens had all windows open in hospital, they saw a dramatic decrease in cases doing that....

    Hospitals here are usually 25 degrees plus all year round, really disgusting environments to be in and also a crazy waste of energy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,326 ✭✭✭ ginoginelli


    Offices are a huge concern now with many going back. Adequete ventitlation and mandatory masks have be a prerequisite before expecting people to return.

    If not, they are being exposed to an unnecessary and unreasonable amount of risk.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,446 ✭✭✭ Seanergy


    There was a reference to airborne in March in the HSPC online literature but is now showing error 404, incl below.

    Airborne is not even on the table for conversation, Ireland is truly stuck in the bog with SD and hand hygiene, cough and sneeze. We can't even square up to speaking as a form of transmission as per WHO advice. Is it part of the protect the mask supply hangover?

    Anyway here is the deleted HSPC outbreak table for week begining March 16th 2020.

    Screenshot-2020-04-07-at-16.48.43-1-e1596396505955.png

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/07/why-arent-we-talking-more-about-airborne-transmission/614737/


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭ Season 2


    I mentioned the dangers of poorly ventilated toilet cubicles on the main thread and was ridiculed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,469 ✭✭✭✭ odyssey06


    Seanergy wrote: »

    That article is an eye-opener. I'm going to highlight some key takeaways:
    • In another super-spreader event, at a choir practice of 61 people in Skagit, Washington, a single patient caused 32 confirmed and 20 likely COVID-19 cases—almost everyone in the room. In another striking case, at a Korean call center, where people talk all day, 94 out of 216 people on one floor of the building were infected, with cases clustered on one side of the floor but some as far as 20 desks away from each other, with a few as far away as the opposite wall. Only three people on other floors were infected, despite the employees sharing a lobby and elevators, reinforcing that surfaces aren’t efficient transmitters, but that shared air pockets can be, almost regardless of distance.
    • When windows cannot be opened, classrooms could run portable HEPA filters, which are capable of trapping viruses this small, and which sell for as little as a few hundred dollars.
    • Japan was expected to fail by many, as it implemented an unconventional response, bucking WHO guidelines, eschewing widespread testing, and forcing few formal lockdowns. However, Japan masked up early, focused on super-spreader events (a strategy it calls “cluster busting”), and, crucially, trained its public to focus on avoiding the three C’s—closed spaces, crowded places, and close conversations. In other words, exactly the places where airborne transmission and aerosols could pose a risk. The Japanese were advised not to talk on the subway, where windows were kept open. O****ani said they also developed guidelines that included the importance of ventilation in many different settings, such as bars, restaurants, and gyms. Six months later, despite having some of the earliest outbreaks, ultradense cities, and one of the oldest populations in the world, Japan has had about 1,000 COVID-19 deaths total—which is how many the United States often has in a single day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 37 ✭✭✭ Ribs1234


    the corpo wrote: »
    It will be a massive consideration in school reopenings too, but I don't know that the issue has even crossed the Department's radar...
    Does the school reopening guidance take account of airborne?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,077 ✭✭✭ Away With The Fairies


    Seanergy wrote: »
    There was a reference to airborne in March in the HSPC online literature but is now showing error 404, incl below.

    Airborne is not even on the table for conversation, Ireland is truly stuck in the bog with SD and hand hygiene, cough and sneeze. We can't even square up to speaking as a form of transmission as per WHO advice. Is it part of the protect the mask supply hangover?

    Anyway here is the deleted HSPC outbreak table for week begining March 16th 2020.

    Screenshot-2020-04-07-at-16.48.43-1-e1596396505955.png

    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/07/why-arent-we-talking-more-about-airborne-transmission/614737/

    That's very worrying.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,077 ✭✭✭ Away With The Fairies


    Season 2 wrote: »
    I mentioned the dangers of poorly ventilated toilet cubicles on the main thread and was ridiculed.

    Who wants to think about picking up infections while you do your business. So always better to label any concerns as fear mongering in that main thread.


  • Registered Users Posts: 194 ✭✭ petejmk


    The Department's school reopening guidelines categorically states the virus is “not airborne” (page 24 of the post-primary doc and page 26 of the primary and special school doc). They must have more knowledge than the WHO and the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre. They've both said airborne transmission can't be ruled out.

    That part of the guidelines is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/48037-dealing-with-a-suspected-case-of-covid-19-covid-19-response-plan-for-safe-reopening-of-schools/
    I was trying to link the full version but the department seem to have removed the English version. The only one available now is as gaeilge


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,077 ✭✭✭ Away With The Fairies


    I think the only guidance we ever got from HSE was telling us if you're infected, go into a room by yourself, with a phone and open a window.

    Was there guidance or advice for workplaces and other public buildings about ventilation and opening windows?


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