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Emerging Challenges and Responses

The Waterloo Filtration Institute 2020 Annual Conference (WFI 2020) will take place online via Zoom, December 15-16, 2020, 8:00-12:00 am EST. The theme of this conference is “IAQ Health and Safety Solutions Associated with COVID-19”. It will address the critical roles of facemasks and air filtration during the current pandemic for public health and safety. The virtual conference will feature the following four sessions, and we will introduce to you the speakers and their topics in the first session on this issue.

1. Emerging Challenges and Responses

2. IAQ and the Built Environment

3. Facemask Technologies and Latest Developments

4. Facemask/Air Filter Test Methods and Standards


Cleaning Air during A Global Pandemic

Dr. Thomas Caesar, Freudenberg Filtration Technologies

Air filtration has never been under such a high public focus than it is today. during the Covid19 pandemic, especially as there is strong indication that the SARS-CoV2 virus can spread as aerosols via the air. As the virus may attach to smaller or larger particles (solid or liquid), a large range of particles sizes has to be considered from some micrometers down to the nanoscale. Air handling units using high quality and efficient fine filters and by regarding specific advice given for the pandemic times do reduce the virus concentration in buildings. Together with other measures like keeping distance and wearing face masks, this can reduce the infection risk significantly.


Recent advances in assessing the role of respiratory droplets

in spreading of COVID-19

Dr. Abhishek Saha, University of California San Diego

Respiratory droplets play a critical role in the transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus, responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, it is important to understand and analyze the mechanisms of evaporation, precipitation, and transport of these droplets ejected from our oral or nasal cavities during respiratory events such as sneezing, coughing, talking, or breathing. In this talk, we will highlight some key aspects which control the lifetime of these droplets and connect it to a pandemic model in an effort to assess the growth in the infected population. We will also discuss the relative probabilistic contributions from droplets vs aerosol in the transmission of this virus at given ambient climate conditions. We will conclude the presentation with a note on the importance of masks in restricting the transmission of respiratory droplets and show how improperly designed masks can have severely opposite effects.


Impact of COVID 2019 on the Air filtration Industry

Bob Mcilvaine, The Mcilvaine Company

The Coronavirus is not disappearing. As school has started in Europe, new outbreaks have arisen. Experts now warn that the deaths in the U.S. will range from 300,000 to 600,000 by the end of the year. India is registering 90,000 new cases per day. A vaccine is not going to be 100% effective. There is increasing evidence that much of the transmission is through small aerosols. MERV 8 filters will not remove a high percentage of the virus and are likely to be aerosol generators for larger droplets. These conditions create a very large market opportunity for the filtration industry. The market will not experience a sharp peak as the benefits of cleaner indoor air become permanently established.


Center of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials

Dr. Ravi Selvaganapathy, McMaster University

The current COVID-19 pandemic caught Canada on a flat foot. The country did not have sufficient local manufacturing capability nor testing and validation facilities to respond quickly when supply chains across the world shut down. In this talk, I will describe one of Canada’s most comprehensive responses in assisting local manufacturing and establishment of a test facility that has enabled local manufacturers of apparel, automotive components, and construction to pivot to the manufacture of personnel protective equipment (PPE). In assisting these companies, broad outlines of an integrated research and development program were realized, which led to the establishment of the Center of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) as a one of a kind facility in Canada. The COVID pandemic and its aftermath have significantly changed how PPEs are used. These changes in use call for a significant redesign of PPEs as well as the development of new materials and manufacturing processes suited for further use cases. There is also a need for the development of specific and custom standards for the evaluation of PPEs in these settings. Finally, natural and sustainable materials need to be incorporated into PPEs instead of fossil fuel-derived materials in order to reduce the impact of their increased use. All of these considerations are interrelated, and a comprehensive research program is required to address all aspects of this problem. In this talk, I will provide some examples of such an integrated approach to the development of PPEs.


Check WFI 2020 homepage for the full WFI 2020 Program


Acknowledgement of Sponsors



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