Behind the science
As our industry continues to feel the impacts and adapt to the landscape created by the pandemic, researchers from diverse areas of study are looking at plumbing and HVAC systems to help track and prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
At Oshawa’s Ontario Tech University, researchers are monitoring wastewater in Durham Region with the goal of arming public health units with a early-warning system.
According to the school, wastewater epidemiological—the study and analysis of the distribution, patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations—monitoring will provide reliable data for potential infections within a certain area, and in some cases up to five days before residents start to show symptoms of infection.
“The results obtained from this study could potentially add another useful tool in the surveillance and advanced identification of possible COVID-19 activity occurring within certain areas of the community,” says Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health.
On the ventilation side, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are hoping to reduce the potential risk for Canadians by developing testing equipment to measure how airborne viruses are transferred in building ventilation systems.
Engineering researcher Carey Simonson will focus on developing air exchangers which conserve energy without contaminating fresh air, using a barrier membrane to prevent viruses and other tiny pathogens from penetrating.
He expects to have preliminary results in six months, and if successful, effective membranes could be incorporated into air exchangers within a year.
“We want to see whether airborne viruses in the exhaust air of buildings are returned to the fresh supply air used to ventilate and reduce contaminants in buildings,” says Simonson.
“The research will improve indoor air quality, reducing the risk of spread of airborne pathogens in health-care facilities, seniors’ residences and transit systems where maintaining adequate social distancing may be difficult.”
The importance of both residential and commercial building systems in keeping homeowners and the public safe is reinforced by all this research. There is science behind everything.