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BET YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT
MULTISTORY-APARTMENT DWELLERS
BREATHE DURING LOCKDOWN


Lubomyr Prytulak      lubomyrprytulak@gmail.com

17May2021   (last edited 07Oct2021)
lubomyrprytulak@gmail.com

The command to LOCKDOWN or STAY-AT-HOME has become a panacea, imposed worldwide, and so obviously beneficial as to escape the need for explanation or justification, as is expressed, for example, by Dr. Suneel Dhand:  "And it's a complete no-brainer.  Of course if you lock people up, you're going to stop infection from spreading.  Why is that a surprise?"  (youtube.com/~  at 06:00 min:sec).

And so from California to Ontario, the continent finds rare relief from the same command:

CALIFORNIA ALL LOGO
About COVID-19 restrictions
Last updated May 4, 2021 at 9:07 AM     covid19.ca.gov/~

All individuals living in the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, except for permitted work, local shopping or other permitted errands, or as otherwise authorized (including in the questions and answers below).


THE MIRROR, NORTH YORK LOGO

www.thestar.com/~    16May2021

As much as I really didn’t want to have a continued stay-at-home order, and as much as no one wants to be staying home any longer, it was the safe thing to do and it was the right thing to do for our health-system capacity,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).

ROADSIDE SIGN URGING ONTARIANS TO SHELTER AT HOME DURING THE PANDEMIC

But as it sometimes proves to be the case that even the obvious and incontrovertible upon closer examination turns out to be subtle and surprising, let us venture to ask that the rationale for staying shut up at home, or commanding others to stay shut up at home, is what?

Well, it feels so safe to be inside.  Outside there are strangers walking around spreading their viruses.  At worst, coughing and sneezing, but even just laughing or talking.

But ensconced at home, be it as modest as an apartment or condo in a high-rise, we feel sealed off from that kind of hubbub, cozy and secure and able to wait out the pandemic without catching whatever is being passed around among the members of the milling crowd outside.

From inside an apartment, one sometimes hears people in the corridor talking or laughing, but as long as they stay on the other side of that closed and locked door, they will pose no greater danger than if they were on the other side of the earth.

That may be the justification for lockdown and stay-at-home, and it may be valid for some kinds of residences while being quite invalid for multistory buildings.


EASY TO FEEL REASSURED BY THE LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF CLEAN AIR WHICH BLANKETS THE AREA     This video runs for 29 sec

And if strolling out on the balcony, one sees ocean and much greenery, and how far down it is to the street, one may feel doubly sure that one breathes mainly clean air, and certainly virus-free air.  Never mind maintaining a two-meter separation from strangers — in an apartment, the nearest visible stranger may be fifty meters below, or a hundred.

The images below are mainly videos.  Run your mouse cursor over each image to reveal its video controls.  The video immediately below benefits from being projected full screen.  See any virus threats anywhere?



But as the occupants of an apartment may only rarely step out on their balcony, the air they breathe may be usually the indoor apartment air, and which may not be the same.  Let's take a look inside, starting at the apartment door.


AIR RUSHES IN WHENEVER THE APARTMENT DOOR IS OPENED
This video runs for 37 sec

If while opening the apartment door from inside you put your face close to the opening, you are almost certain to feel a continuous rush of air against your face, which rush can be seen here whenever the door is opened a crack.

But as keeping the door closed seems to stop the flow of air, then this can't matter much, one may think.


STRAWS AND TISSUE ON THE FLOOR
This video runs for 24 sec

Without the white baffle, the gap under the door when closed is about 2.5 cm when measured on the corridor side, and about 3 cm when measured on the apartment side, and the white baffle was installed to cover this gap.  Over the years, however, the baffle has loosened, and a visible gap has opened up.

Dropping straws and a tissue on the floor in front of this gap reveals a powerful and continuous flow of air into the apartment.

One can imagine how much larger and more powerful the flow of air would be had no baffle been installed.

Our opinion of what air we breathe while in this apartment begins to shift to the possibility that it is precisely this air flowing in under the door which fills the apartment and which is the air that the occupants primarily breathe, certainly when there is no baffle, but maybe even in the presence of a poorly-fitting baffle.


VENTURING OUT INTO THE CORRIDOR
This video runs for 51 sec

If it is under-door air that we primarily breathe during the many hours we spend in this apartment, it is natural to want to know its source, which takes us out into the corridor.

What we discover is air being forced into the corridor through a vent placed high enough as to make it unlikely to attract attention by blasting someone in the face.

And from the corridor the air is forced into individual apartments, primarily through the gap under the door.  Not what most people might expect, but in any case, so what?  Nothing significant about that, is there?


EXAMINING THE DOOR FRAME DISCOVERS SOOT SPLATTER
This video runs for 18 sec

Back at the apartment door, we gaze upward along the black weather stripping attached to the door stop until we get to what looks like a black spray which has been entering the apartment in the upper-right-hand corner through a gap between vertical and horizontal weather-strips.


A FLASHLIT LOOK AT THIS SAME SPLATTERED CORNER
This video runs for 24 sec

The nature of the weather-stripping is revealed by peeling it back a bit, then letting go.

When we reach the same upper-right corner, a flashlight is brought into play and shows more clearly the nature of the opening through which we are hypothezing air leaks from the corridor into the apartment.


WITH THE DOOR CLOSED, WE SEE WEAK BUT CONTINUOUS AIR FLOW THROUGH THE UPPER-RIGHT CORNER
This video runs for 18 sec

Our airflow indicator tells us that air does indeed flow into the apartment through this upper-right-hand corner of the door frame, much weaker than along the bottom of the door, but nevertheless continuous.


HOW MANY POINTS OF ENTRY MIGHT THERE BE FROM THE PUBLIC CORRIDOR
TO THE INSIDE OF THE APARTMENT?
SOOT SPLATTER ON LOWER-LEFT CORNER OF THE DOOR CLOSE-UP OF SOOT SPLATTER ON LOWER-LEFT CORNER OF THE DOOR

BENDING DOWN TO INSPECT THE LOWER-LEFT CORNER:
There doesn't seem to be much of interest.

BENDING WAY DOWN FOR A CLOSER LOOK AT THE LOWER-LEFT CORNER:
But if we crouch down even lower — we see that what at first glance seemed to be an insignificant black line turns out to be more soot splatter, emerging from the small black opening in the floor.  And which invites us to wonder whether that visible amount of soot may have carried along with it how many millions or billions or trillions of virus particles that did not cling to the door frame, but shot out into the apartment where they could be inhaled by the inhabitants sheltering from what they had been told was the dangerous world outside?


WHAT'S GOING ON?

Without ventilation, corridors would get clogged with toilet and cooking odors, and so every high-rise takes precautions to prevent air from travelling from an apartment into its adjoining public corridor.  The most common method in Canada is the one we have been examining above, and which I first encountered in 1970 in a newly-built high-rise in London, Ontario.  Soot-containing air being forced into the apartment became evident by the carpeting just inside the apartment door developing dark streaks emanating from the base of the door.  I guessed that the dark streaks were soot from car exhaust in the high-rise's underground garage, which soot travelled up elevator shafts and pervaded corridors on all floors, and got forced into apartments by the ventilation system.

In that 1970 building, the elevator doors opened directly into the underground parking area.  In the newer high-rise we have been inspecting above, however, two heavy doors separate the automobiles from the elevator doors, their purpose being to reduce the amount of automobile exhaust that reaches the elevators, but we have now seen reason to believe that they are not completely successful.

In the dozen or so high-rise apartments and condos and hotels that I have recently inspected in Toronto, door frames into apartments had no weather stripping at all, only widely-spaced rubber bumpers, so that the air from the corridor was pushed into the apartments along all four edges of the entrance door, least from the hinge edge and most from the bottom edge, and therefore entering the apartment in much greater volume than the above videos have shown entering through only a largely-baffled base along with one tiny opening on the upper-right, and another on the lower-left.

The soot-streak in these many Toronto apartments was visible on the door frame primarily along the top of the door, and on the doorknob-side vertical surface.  I paid little attention to the hinge side of the door frame, and expected the base to be much less sooty because the gap was much bigger (and so that most soot particles would pass too far away from surfaces to which they could be attracted) and because the floor would have been swept or vaccuumed or mopped often, whereas the door frame would be wiped down just about never.

The black spray has some relevance to mask wearing during COVID-19 where putative experts impress the public by explaining that in some cases masks don't work because the virus particles needing to be filtered out are smaller than the mask's pore openings, and so will pass right through the pores, but which explanation overlooks two considerations:

  1. that virus particles don't float through the air individually, but rather as passengers within droplets consisting of bodily fluids along with miscellaneous organic matter, along with not merely a single virus, but perhaps a million of them, and therefore many or most of these droplets are too large to be able to fit through the pores, and so would be filtered out,

  2. that droplets or particles so small as to easily fit through the pore openings can nevertheless be trapped by static cling, which is what we saw happening to the soot in the two diagonally-opposite door corners.

That is, the soot particles are small, and the gap (say the one on the upper-right whose size we could plainly see) through which the soot particles pass is for them enormous, but because the soot particles have a static charge opposite to the static charge of the door-frame surface that they pass close to, there is attraction, and some of the soot particles cling and stay glued on.

What is to be expected, then, is the greatest deposit of black soot will be seen near the tightest openings because that's where the particles are forced to come closest to the surface which will attract them.  Or seen on the surface at which the air stream is aimed.

In all the high-rise apartment and condominium and hotel doors that I saw in Toronto recently, because they lacked weather stripping, I could see not just one or a few leaky locations, but rather a black line of soot on the door frame from floor to top of frame (opposite the door edge nearest the doorknob), and also along the top.  Using a paper tissue, one can give any black line (on the edge of a doorframe) a swipe and observe the black soot deposited on the tissue.

Some important and disturbing implications for virus transmission follow.  In a typical high-rise, the droplets from coughing or sneezing or laughing or talking — or even just breathing — that are released in a corridor will within seconds be carried into the nearest apartments.

If the virus-releasing corridor-pedestrians happen to walk down the length of the corridor, then they will contaminate all apartments along that corridor.

And if soot particles can be carried from an automobile through three doors (counting the elevator door) into the elevator, then lifted ten or twenty floors, then sucked out of the elevator into a corridor, then down the corridor toward an apartment door, and finally through openings available on all four edges of that door — then so can virus-carrying droplets or particles be similarly carried over that same distance, and all the more easily over shorter distances.

At what rate virus particles might be entering an apartment is impossible to estimate from the little evidence that we have seen in the videos above.  The building was erected in 2005, and the soot marks may have taken the entire 16 years until 2021 to accumulate.  Or if the soot streaks were wiped clean just before the present occupants arrived in 2015, then 6 years to accumulate.  Doorway-soot accumulations go unnoticed because people walking through a doorway are attentive to what they will find on the other side of the door, no matter whether coming in or going out, and the edges of doorways are of no interest, and if a black line were glimpsed, it would not be interpreted as a soot streak.

If the accumulated particles that we have seen, say on the upper-right corner, consisted of nothing but virus bodies instead of soot, how many virus bodies would that accumulation amount to?  Billions or trillions?  And what proportion of all virus particles entering from corridor to apartment does static cling trap in such an upper-right-corner squeeze?  Perhaps one in a million or in a billion or in a trillion?

The very damaging hypothesis suggested by even a quick look at evidence such as the above is that a high-rise apartment or condo is not a sanctuary from other people's viruses, but is rather an enclosure into which other people's viruses are continuously being pumped, and from which it would follow that the most fundamental of all government COVID-19 mandates — to stay inside — may be ill-informed and injurious to a substantial proportion of the population.

To people living in houses, a similar conclusion may be called for, but for a different reason.  That is, while lowering the probability of being infected by strangers, lockdown within a house increases the probability of being infected by family members and pets.

And from which it would follow also that almost all the experts paraded in front of us by the mainstream media are in reality ignoramuses whose first contribution to public health will come when they are put on trial for criminal negligence.


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