Last weekend marked one year since the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the impact and evolution of COVID19, which has plunged us into a pandemic since 11 March 2020. This is a challenge for our welfare state, for public policies, the economy and day-to-day life.
Following the closure of schools from March 2020, in September all the efforts of the public and educational administrations focused on the on-site opening of all educational centres in the infant, primary and secondary stages. Contingency plans and new rules for the operation of schools and institutes were introduced. After a long time calling for adequate indoor air quality in educational centres, due to its link with the capacity for attention and learning, the pandemic has brought to the table the necessary review of the air we breathe indoors. And ventilation is key to this process.
Ventilation is the simplest strategy for the elimination of indoor air pollutants, to ensure clean air, reduce CO₂ concentration and eliminate aerosols - aerosols, those vehicles in which viruses, among other possible pathogens , can travel.
However, educational centers have more than a task ahead in renovating their envelope and ensuring their ventilation facilities. A PEP report presented in October 2020 already concluded that air quality is insufficient and that only 32% of study time in centers were guaranteed adequate CO₂ levels.
Among the different ventilation strategies, protocols and recommendations that we collected in our previous article, the administrations propose the use of CO₂ meters as a pre-assessment tool. In this way, it is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the ventilation system. In fact, it is an indicator widely used for this purpose.
The need is clear. Contingency plans and recommendations from administrations are also clear. However, it is the schools themselves who are responsible for putting the proposed measures into action.
Questions arise about how to ventilate, how to verify that the ventilation protocol being followed is sufficient to ensure the recommended adequate air renewal without compromising the classroom temperature.
The analysis should not lead us to paralysis and there are schools that have taken the initiative and have seen as key the placement of continuous monitoring systems in their classrooms. Systems that easily allow validation of the ventilation protocol implemented or even its adjustment to ensure not only adequate levels of CO₂, but also the necessary thermo-hygrometric comfort, which is key to the well-being of students and teachers during long teaching days. In addition, the survival and propagation of a virus in an indoor space is also influenced by temperature and humidity conditions.
The German School of Zaragoza contacted us during the month of November 2020. Like all schools, they were clearly committed to the safety of their students and teachers, but their previous experience in the Frischluft Project (clean air), a project of the 4th grade ICT subject, had allowed them to become familiar with environmental diagnosis and the implementation of interconnected technology.
After a test with five meters during the last week of December, the center ended up equipping itself with 40 devices so that the start of classes after the Christmas break would allow the center to begin a term monitoring CO₂ concentration, thermohygrometric comfort and suspended particles up to 2.5 microns in size.
The 40 devices installed are the MICA Lite desktop version , with the possibility of wall mounting, thanks to a specific bracket. The installation was carried out by the school itself, with the assistance of inBiot. In addition, these devices have a public API, which has allowed the school to integrate the information collected into its own internal system . In other words, the data collected by the monitoring device can be visualised on the My inBiot platform (here is a demo)and/or integrated into another platform or internal data visualisation system.
MICA Lite has a traffic-light mode light depending on the CO₂ concentration, with measurements every minute, so that the green light indicates that CO₂ levels are below 800 ppm and ventilation would not be necessary, the yellow light reflects values between 800 and 1500 ppm indicating the recommendation to ventilate and the red light , with values above 1500 ppm, is a clear indication of a ventilation deficit in the space.
At inBiot we are committed to monitoring as a tool that allows us to act quickly and effectively to ensure adequate ventilation. If you need more information, we will be happy to help you.