New web tool assesses air quality in Montreal buildings to reduce spread of COVID-19

The City Reduced Probability of Infection, or CityRPI, estimates the risk of indoor airborne transmission of COVID-19 in Montreal's buildings

As Montrealers head increasingly indoors, concerns over air quality and the spread of COVID-19 is on the rise.

A Concordia researcher says a new web-based tool can help determine the safety of the air quality in a building and thus reduce the spread of COVID-19.

To help slow the spread of the new coronavirus during the cold season, a team of researchers led by associate professor Leon Wang built the City Reduced Probability of Infection, or CityRPI, a website to estimate the risk of indoor airborne transmission of the virus in Montreal’s buildings.

“Until recently, the importance of aerosol transmission had been overlooked, but now it’s clear that this is one of the major routes of infection, especially for poorly ventilated spaces,” Wang said. “The website aims to help policymakers and the general public make informed decisions about how to slow the spread of airborne viruses.”

According to Wang, any building in the Montreal region can undergo a virus risk assessment.

Users can drag a mouse over the interactive map to see pop-up menus for each building. The menus list suggestions tailored to the space for reducing exposure to airborne viruses.

The tool looks at, among other things, a building’s ventilation system, how many people are in the building, how long they stay and whether they are required to wear a mask.

Users will be asked a series of questions; once answered, the tool can provide building owners with a list of measures to help make the space safer for people going in.

“The research used to develop this tool shows that there’s a correlation between indoor airborne virus transmission risk, the number of people in a space and how long they stay there,” Wang added. “This confirms that wearing a mask indoors can be critical in slowing the spread of the virus.”

“Other precaution and mitigation measures must also be strictly maintained, such as social distancing and frequent disinfection, to reduce the risks due to contact and droplet transmissions indoors, ” Wang said.  

Dale Crockett CTV Montreal News Editor

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