Classroom aerosol dispersion: desk spacing and divider impacts

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International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
A study of aerosol dispersion was conducted in a university classroom using a tracer gas emitted from three source locations in a steady release, one source location per test. The tracer gas emitted from the single source location represented the potentially infectious aerosol droplets emitted from a single student and was thus a way to examine the influence of one sick student on the rest of the class. Two parameters were adjusted during the testing—the spacing of the desks, which included a spread and compressed configuration, and the inclusion of three-sided clear dividers attached to the student desk surfaces. Tracer dispersion was measured through the use of monitors in 13 locations within the classroom, with eight monitors representing seated student locations, four monitors representing a standing instructor along the classroom front, and one monitor at the return vent in the ceiling. As expected, spacing strongly influenced concentration levels at desks adjacent to the source location. The use of dividers reduced overall student and instructor location tracer concentrations when compared to desks without dividers in most cases. Finally, the influence of air change differences on the results was noted with consistent trends. The experimental construct provides a systematic means for classroom testing that may be broadly applicable to various configurations of classrooms beyond the one tested.
COVID-19, Classroom Air Quality, Aerosol, Dispersion, Desk Dividers, Proximity Effect
Dacunto, P., Moser, D., Ng, A. et al. Classroom aerosol dispersion: desk spacing and divider impacts. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 19, 1057–1070 (2022).