Air quality expert questioning the safety of Florida classrooms amid pandemic

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Governor Ron DeSantis’ prepares to reopen schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one expert is questioning the safety of air quality in classrooms.

Dr. Serene Al-Momen is a mother of two and also the CEO of Senseware, a company that uses tools and real-time data to monitor air quality.

“Air quality, in general, is something that has been an issue in schools and now more so because we know that the prominent mode of transmission for the coronavirus is airborne,” said Al-Momen.  

In June, the Government Accountability Office published a report where they found an estimated 41 percent of school districts nationwide, need to update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. GAO reports about 36,000 schools nationwide need HVAC updates.

Al-Momen explains poor ventilation and out-date HVAC units and filters can lead to dangerous classroom conditions.

“HVAC units are the most effective way of removal of pathogens and viruses from the air. So, you have to look there and make sure that you put the right things in place to optimize this unit,” said Al-Momen.

Al-Momen tells, if kids head back to class, there are several safety measures that should be in place:

-Add fresh air to the space 

“Bring in more outside air because the fresh air diluting the air is kind of resetting the space,” said Al-Momen.

-Update air filters frequently  

“Changing filters more dynamically and more frequently, all these things can be done with older buildings and can be very effective,” explained Al-Momen.

– Monitor HVAC settings at all times and temporal distancing  

“Temporal Distancing is basically where you use space based on the conditions. So, if you have a classroom that you are monitoring in real-time the air quality and see that the ventilation is not working, co2 levels are rising, the particles are at a critical level, that could be an indication to leave the classroom.”


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