Better indoor ventilation systems could make people safer and healthier—and not just because they’d slow down the coronavirus.

 

CLAMBERING AROUND THE ceiling of a big-box store, Jeff Siegel, a mechanical engineer at the University of Toronto, had no idea that he was looking at the post-pandemic future of air-conditioning systems. Siegel studies indoor air quality, and he and his colleagues were testing the air in the store—he wouldn’t say which one. This is the possibly grim future part: While they were up there, they found that one of the six HVAC units (that’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) was installed exactly upside down. Like, 180 degrees from spec. “The door that was used to access the filter couldn’t be fully opened, and the filter couldn’t be replaced,” Siegel says.

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