Back to school | 68% of 90,000 CO2 readers delivered to schools

(Montreal) A few days before the start of the school year, the Quebec government has delivered 68% of the 90,000 carbon dioxide (CO2) which he had promised to install in all classrooms of all schools by the end of December 2021.

As of Friday, readers intended for classes deemed priority, so those who had recorded readings that went beyond 1,500 ppm, are all delivered, according to the Department of Education.

“This is an ambitious, very large-scale operation involving 3,600 buildings,” said Caroline Imbeau, assistant deputy minister at the Quebec Ministry of Education during a technical briefing for journalists about air quality in schools.

CO2 is one of the indicators of air quality and when a meter shows a high level, the air may contain harmful contaminants, such as SARS-CoV-2, if someone in the room has the virus.

Real-time device readings “will allow for quick and direct action on the premises, if needed,” according to the Department of Education.

Quebec relies on the regular opening of windows in schools that do not have a mechanical ventilation system to allow the evacuation of stale air.

“The readers (of CO2) will make it possible to monitor mechanical ventilation and identify classrooms that are deficient in ventilation and provide real corrective measures, such as the addition of air exchangers,” said Ali Bahloul, industrial ventilation and air quality specialist. indoor air which advises the government on measures in schools.

The Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ) and its school sector federations denounced a few days ago that the government does not rely, like Ontario, on the installation of air exchangers and portable units in classes and rooms where the air quality is deficient.

However, air exchangers are available for schools, but in limited quantities, and for those who request them.

“To date, nearly 400 devices have been installed in learning rooms by educational institutions. The reserve has around 100 devices, and we will receive other exchangers soon,” said Assistant Deputy Minister Caroline Imbeau, adding that “the government reserve makes it possible to meet demand.”

Regarding the air purifiers that are used in some schools in Ontario and also in Quebec by the English-Montreal School Board, the Ministry of Education continues to advise against their use.

Government adviser Ali Bahloul made it clear that unlike air exchangers, which “bring in fresh air from outside”, purifiers “do not change the air, they will suck in the air, purify expired air and introduce it again”, it is therefore an “air recycling” device.

According to Mr. Bahloul, air purifiers can even become dangerous in a classroom that has mechanical ventilation. He also cited a report from the Ministry of Health and Human Services on this subject.

“When the ventilation is adequate, these devices are useless and even potentially risky, potentially impairing the proper functioning of the ventilation systems in place. Finally, they can generate significant air currents which can be problematic, in particular by favoring the dispersion of larger aerosols at a distance and the alteration of air flows if a mechanical ventilation system is already in place. ”

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