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CDC, Urged to "Do Something", Calls for Useless Building Ventilation Upgrades
HVAC industry to make windfall profits, thanks to the CDC
Since the “Covid pandemic” started over three years ago, humanity has been beset with the “we need to do something” syndrome. That syndrome surfaces when public servants see “doing nothing” as risky for their careers. Therefore, they enact measures that appear beneficial without first ascertaining that they would accomplish anything.
Such measures to stop the transmission of COVID-19 included:
Restricting international travel
Isolation and lockdowns
Unproven experimental vaccines
All of the above measures had one thing in common: they were adopted without proof that they would stop the transmission of COVID-19. Another thing they had in common was that they did not work.
The people begging for the measures to be enacted often displayed magical thinking, expecting their favored measure to work like magic sticks, whereas, at most, they would only slightly slow down the inevitable.
A new trend is now emerging: “improved building ventilation.” The CDC adopted this approach several days ago and called to upgrade the ventilation systems of existing buildings.
While studying in college long ago, I specialized in “liquid and gas mechanics.” I did some gas flow modeling, including simulating the process of ballistic warheads re-entering the atmosphere. Not exactly close, but it does not have to be: visualizing air flows is something most of us can do intuitively.
(If you are feeling especially science-minded, you can get some “smoke sticks” and follow smoke flowing around your house, which is how HVAC professionals evaluate filtering systems.)
The calls for “improved ventilation” are supported by the HVAC industry, which is slated for a windfall if upgrades to existing buildings are required. Just imagine the demand for HVAC projects skyrocketing for a few years as extensive upgrades to the ventilation systems of existing buildings will be carried out.
Asking the HVAC association if we need HVAC upgrades is like asking a barber if we need a haircut, but I digress.
The CDC supports ASHRAE (HVAC association) call for upgrades to ventilation:
Some of the following interventions are based on COVID-19 Technical Resources published by ASHRAE (a professional organization formerly known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers).
Air Filters Are Like Face Masks - For Entire Buildings!
There are many problems with the hope of stopping the “transmission of Covid-19” via air filters. The issues with air filtering mirror problems with face masks:
Covid-19 infects eyes and spreads through touch
The filters are not fine enough to capture small aerosols and viral particles
Air flows around face masks and air filters (room-to-room lateral flow)
This is an illustration of the expectations vs. reality of air filtering (my additions in blue):
In buildings, air travels in all sorts of ways, just as the air flows around a poorly fitted mask.
Air Circulation May Spread Pathogens
It is well known that air circulation systems may spread pathogens instead of containing them:
Air Filters Cannot Capture All Viral Particles
CDC recommends MERV-13 filters.
Updated the minimum filter recommendation to Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13.
The small respiratory droplets containing infection viruses can be under 1 micrometer. You only need one droplet to get infected!
Furthermore, the size distribution of coughed droplets of different ages and gender was investigated to identify the effects of age and gender on droplet size distribution. Results indicated the total average size distribution of the droplet nuclei was 0.58-5.42 microm, and 82% of droplet nuclei centered in 0.74-2.12 microm.
MERV-13 filters can capture a little over half of those.
Filtration can worsen the spread!
Let’s say that Sam, sick with Covid-19, is in room A. At the same time, Heather, who is healthy, is in room B.
If Sam coughs and produces tiny aerosol particles, they would be unlikely to reach Heather without ventilation. However, if there is a central HVAC system, it would distribute Sam’s droplets, capture half of them, and deliver the rest to Heather, possibly infecting her.
This applies to larger buildings and school classes, for example. A student in one class, who is sick, can cough up aerosols, which will be rapidly delivered to other classes via intensive air circulation systems.
All of the above is well known to science, and anyone with a basic understanding of air flows and filtering can figure out that increased circulation cannot stop the transmission of COVID-19. However, the CDC forgot all that science in its urge to “do something.”
The result of the filtration campaign will be immense profits for HVAC retrofitting companies, accompanied by fake science worship, virtue signaling, blaming people whose homes are not retrofitted, magical thinking, and hysterics.
The air circulation proponents are good individuals. While I dislike most COVID vaccine advocates, the air circulation people are likable, self-starting, compassionate do-it-yourselfers. And yet, I believe they are factually wrong when they expect to stop transmission of Covid-19 via increased air circulation through leaky filters.
Look at the picture of these women. They are good persons!
They are trying their best to do something good for mankind. And yet, their facemasks are useless for preventing COVID, and the airbox sloshing the air around would also do no good to inhabitants of whatever quarters it is put in.
What do you think?