The Works Council of the Faculty of Humanities has formally advised the Dean Fred Weerman to place carbon dioxide meters in all the rooms of the faculty. The council received several complaints about the air quality in lecture rooms.
With the installation of carbon dioxide meters, also known as CO₂ meters, the councils wants to monitor the air permanently in all rooms. This would give students and staff more insight in whether the ventilation in the rooms is adequate. The identification of problems is currently too dependent on 'proactive lecturers who bring their own testing equipment', according to the council. Placint the meters can also prevent rooms from being wrongly regarded as unsafe.
Several worried lecturers and professor contacted the works council, says works council chairman Gerwin van der Pol. Some had private meters with values that far exceeded the limits. But there were also people who thought the rooms were ‘too stuffy’, even though the air quality appeared to be fine after measurements. ‘Even then, the meters are useful to know where you stand.’
Van der Pol does not know whether the faculty will actually take action. ‘We have been putting this subject on the agenda for weeks. We are now talking to the Dean to see what should happen if the meters are not installed, or if they come later. The point is that teachers have to be sure that they are safe. Declaring something safe on the basis of a building code or random tests is false safety.’
The concerns are not random: earlier this month, on-campus education in building J/K on the Roeterseiland campus had to be temporarily suspended due to ‘fluctuating’ air quality in the building. It was the first time since the corona crisis that the UvA closed an education building due to poor air quality. Ventilation is one of the pillars of the anti-covid policy, so the university decided to replace all 120 engines of the ventilation system. REC-J/K reopened this week for some groups of students.
‘Those reparations are good, you can also say that it should never have come to this,’ says Van der Pol. ‘A random check showed that most of the halls are just fine, but even good ventilation can fail tomorrow. Every bad case takes away confidence again.’
Lecturers and professor who have questions or complaints about ventilation can contact the Facility Service via email@example.com or 020-5251403.