Methods to Reduce the Impact of Aerosol Transport in Labs: Thoughtful Ventilation Design to Address COVID-19 and Other Airborne Risks

Dianthé Van Weerden, RWDI

As we learn more about how COVID-19 is transmitted, we look back on past global threats like SARS and H1N1, and consider a future where another health threat is likely. We can no longer treat ventilation systems as an afterthought. Occupants and researchers in a lab need assurance that the air they breathe is healthy and clean. As a result, the casual implementation of standard ventilation systems in labs may no longer be acceptable, and thoughtful ventilation design is a key part of keeping people safe in shared labs. The type of ventilation system in labs plays an important role in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and other pathogens that are transmitted through respiratory droplets. This presentation will give the audience a better understanding of ventilation strategies to help reduce the risk of pathogen transmission in labs.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how droplets of different sizes move in a ventilated environment;
  • Be able to describe different types of air distribution systems in labs;
  • Recognize the merits and drawbacks of different air distribution methods; and
  • Be able to explain how ventilation systems can be simulated and the limitations of those methods.


Dianthé is a member of RWDI’s Building Performance Group, providing clients with solutions for issues related to internal ventilation, external building aerodynamics and wind-driven rain. She has worked on a variety of interesting projects and developments around the globe, including labs and other specialized indoor environments, transit stations, high-rise buildings, resorts, and amusement parks.


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