Help Your Planet

by John Herbert

Kids are far smarter than we given them credit. Possibly the best gift for your children is a Kelcroft audit, and help save the eco system problems. That is a story you can tell to your kids!

Unhealthy Hong Kong Homes

by John Herbert

We spend many hours indoors every day, and during the covid19 pandemic many people are forced to work from home.

If you or your family are suffering from persistent illness, symptoms might include headaches, fatigue, allergy, asthma, diarrhoea, or flu like symptoms, your home could be unhealthy causing sickness. Kids are still growing, and can be particularly susceptible to different types of illness during their development.

If you want to discuss your unhealthy building, call John Herbert 2335 9830 today!

Damp, pollution, faulty drains, faulty ventilation, and water seepage are just of some of the reasons causing an unhealthy home, persistent illness in your family indicates you could have a problem. Do you regularly see your neighbour in the local GP’s surgery or in the hospital, that could indicate both families are living in a sick, unhealthy building.

In Hong Kong, medical professionals are reporting that patients appear to be ignoring symptoms and illness, and do not seek medical attention early enough! Don’t delay already seek doctors advice immediately.

#sickbuilding #sickbuildingsyndrome #unhealthy

Missing Vent Pipe Plumbing and Drainage 101

Richland Gardens, Block 6, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong COVID19 cluster

Realise, in high rise buildings suction pressure inside the drainage stack will continuously pull the traps (that means suck the water of the U traps leaving an empty and open U trap) if no vent pipe is provided, and creating COVID19 path into your home. The vent pipe is designed to prevent suction pressure (negative pressure) inside the drainage stack.

Filling each U trap once a week is not going to help if the stack in your building does not have a vent pipe (sometimes called balanced pipe) to relieve the pressure and prevent suction pulling the traps.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so go ask somebody who does :)

#drainage #design #Utrap #hongkong #drytrap

10 years

time flies, just noticed 10 years as Director of BEAM Society Limited 🤣

https://twitter.com/johnherbert

Check and Response

To improve safety, airlines created a suite of simple check and response lists for the flight crew to follow. While studying mortality in the healthcare sector, they stole that idea, and introduced a check and response list in the operating theatres in eight major hospitals. Yes, the staff hated it, but the result, reducing post surgery mortality by 40%, was an amazing outcome.

The construction sector should learn that lesson, adding a check and response list for site safety issues, will undoubtedly save lives.

#sitesafety

Bad Design

To understand valuable design we also have to identify and flag cases of bad design. We find from the recent heath checks conducted at the Hong Kong International Airport that health professionals working on the frontline have inadequate facilities, was this foreseeable certainly, every border has provision for handling health checking.

The RTHK report [link] states

She said there were other problems concerning protective clothing, for example, no designated locations for workers to take off their gear.

In this context, their gear means their PPE. So the frontline nurses and doctors facing thousands of passengers, potentially carrying the infectious diseases including COVID19, don’t have adequate changing facilities risking themselves, and other employees at the airport.

After the shift, the PPE including a n95 mask for sale that I found, a gown, an apron, glove, face shield, etc. are considered contaminated, therefore, an appropriate space clearly identified, should be provided for healthcare workers to doff (remove) and don their PPE, but it seems the border control design did not provide such space, even a temporary space, and a frontline doctor tested positive for COVID19.

Design means considering reasonably foreseeable usage and planning according, health checks at borders are routine and commonplace for many years. If you are old enough to remember some countries made visitors present health records, but in this case, the designers ignored or overlookedthe healthcare workers.

In engineering terms, located transformers and switchgear underground is a risk, in the event of a blocked sewer pipe, flooding, or water leakage the building power supply or back up generator could be compromised. Of course, architects say oh that will never happen, until it does. In a recent Hong Kong incident, water leaking on the upper floor of the building flooded the corridor and the electrical meter room, water travelled down the building using the 2500 amp TPN busbar as the conduit shorting each floor, and continued to the LV switchroom in the basement, causing a disastrous short circuit, shutting off power to the entire building.

The takeaway, engaging and listening to people outside your field, outside your silo, gather views and ideas, consider future events and scenarios, while the building plans are still on the drawing board.

Building Drainage Systems and COVID19

In the good old days the topic was called Public Health, nowadays its called Plumbing and Drainage. It is essential for all buildings to have properly designed, installed and maintained sewerage systems to prevent infecting occupants, whether it is 2003 SARS, 2020 COVID19, or Influenza.

youtube is unreliable here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv38qdl4Z1M

Recently, when COVID19 infection was discovered spreading within Hong Mei House, Tsing Yi on 10 and 11 February 2020, the RTHK report stated that the HK Government instantly reported it was not a “U trap” problem [RTHK link] a reference to the SARS outbreak in 2003 where the disease spread through the drainage system in block E Amoy Gardens infecting occupants, and requiring evacuation of the block.

youtube is unreliable at the moment, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTNvTuV_CM4

I predicted the cause would be the sewer vent pipe, vent pipes are part of the high rise drainage system designed to prevent loss of the water seal in U traps. Subsequently, my suspicion was confirmed, the SMCP newspaper confirmed that the vent piping inside the bathroom was damaged (see SCMP photo below). Therefore, droplets could contaminate the bathroom area.

CREDIT: SCMP Government Press Conference Handout — BROKEN VENT pipe

Still problems in 2020

The photo below taken 15 March 2020 shows damaged drainage system vent piping.

ABOVE: faulty drainage system spreads disease taken 15 March 2020

That drainage system is damaged, it is no longer an enclosed system, allowing odour, bacteria, virus to escape into the air.

We have always known that sewerage and drainage systems are important, providing a conduit for bacteria and viruses, yet the severe lessons from SARS in 2003 and now from COVID19, demonstrate lessons still have not been learned!

Novel Coronavirus and SARS

A novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan City, China in December 2019 (2019-nCOV) and it is apparent that it shares many similarities with the 2003 SARS outbreak, the virus is transported inside water droplets (aerosols) from coughing and sneezing in the air and its also shed in fecal matter which in turn is aerosolized risking contamination of surfaces.

History ignored is destained to be repeated, the same engineering issues remain today creating panic in the Hong Kong community.

Back in 2003, Kelcroft’s John Herbert was one of the few engineers that dared to visit buildings during the SARS outbreak, to highlight buildings requiring urgent improvements. You might not worry about a disconnected vent pipe, until you understand that’s a transmission path for the virus into your home.

Like SARS, and Legionella (which is bacteria) the novel coronavirus can be transported in the air, it’s said to be airborne pathogen, protected inside a water droplet, and depending on the air temperature and humidity, it is thought to be able to carry its virus package over long distances, outside and inside home.

And with favourable environmental conditions, the virus remains viable for up to 5 days on hard surfaces. ( link to useful Singaporean government list of household disinfection products).

If you are interested, here is a link to download our free SARS 2003 report: http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/download/kelcroft-sars-report-may-2003.pdf

#sars #coronavirus #hongkong #2019-nCOV #airbourne #kelcroft #2003