Say no to the one-and-a-half-meter, say yes to ventilation!

Eduard Schaepman
28 May 2020

Say no to the one-and-a-half-meter, say yes to ventilation!

by Eduard Schaepman, on 28 May 2020

The newspapers were full of the news about the contaminations in the slaughterhouses. The whole situation is worrying and there is discussion about distance, housing and transport to and from the slaughterhouses. It is terrible for all the people who are infected there, but hopefully it will lead to some insight what some people have been missing so far.


I've been thinking it all along, and Maurice de Hond has been writing about it since 27 March: it’s not so much the distance, but the humidity that plays an important role in the spread of the virus. On the 1st of May, Maurice was already talking about the danger in the meat processing industry, where the temperature is usually kept low, where they don’t always have the right ventilation and where it is also often very dry. This creates very favorable conditions for aerosols (microdroplets), which can float for longer and thus infect more employees. Especially in slaughterhouses, where people usually speak louder to get above noise, a lot of aerosols are released. Then it doesn't matter if you keep your distance...


In order to understand, we need to go into depth. Aerosols are microdrops released when speaking, coughing or sneezing. They can stay in the air longer than larger drops and can spread over a greater distance. Some viruses, such as the measles virus, spread through aerosols. It is not yet known whether aerosols play a role in the spread of the coronavirus, but we have known for a long time that low humidity means that aerosols can remain in the air even longer.


But somehow no one wanted to listen when Maurice started talking about the reason for the superspreading hot spots. I guess that's because the government has adopted the one-and-a-half-meter strategy and coming back to that is of course quite a loss of face. But fortunately, Maurice is now finally supported by a German top virologist: Christian Drosten. I also follow him and his statements closely, because of our 3 Tribes locations in Germany, and because I have the feeling that our Eastern neighbors are just a little bit further. This virologist also emphasizes the importance of ventilation, and you can also do an entire study about that, but I got some help and think I can sketch a good picture in short.


You have two types of systems to ventilate. Overhead system: air is blown in at the top and sucked out at the top. Clean air falls down, and the 'dirty' air, which contains all the aerosols, goes back the same way. The clean and dirty air passes the people, who can all be infected. In the DownFlow system, clean air is blown in from above, and the dirty air is sucked out from below. The DownFlow system is therefore ideal, which pushes all aerosols to the ground and extracts them. Known from operating theatres, where everything should be as sterile as possible.

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In offices the Overhead system is used as standard... Not ideal. But with a few adjustments we can create a Post-downflow system. You have adjusted a small 3000m2 for an amount of €150.000, - ... But as it turns out, grandmother's advice does wonders in this case as well. My grandmother said a long time ago: you have to provide clean air; you do that by opening your windows. And when we open the windows in the office, the dirty air, full of aerosols, can go outside. Not the perfect solution, but it's a good and workable one.


And now let's hope that the government starts to listen to Maurice de Hond and Christian Drosten, and that we can drop the one-and-a-half-meter-society. As far as I'm concerned it changes 'keep your distance and stay at home' into 'open your window and keep ventilating'. At Tribes the windows are already open, to make it as safe as possible, and of course we stick to the other half meter society. Because even though I personally don't believe in the distance strategy, we do adhere to the RIVM guidelines. So we have introduced Plexiglas in our Blue Zone Offices, adapted routing to keep distance and enough signage so you can work in a 1.5M safe zone. But we go a step further: you can also play sports with a virtual personal trainer, take a rest in our resting area or take out gloves, mouth caps or vitamins from our vending machine. And with our ventilation technology, we're already adding something to our corona proof concept! We go for as safe as possible, at least a feeling as safe as possible at the office!

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Topics:Eduard Schaepman