VIDEO: Toilet Paper Used to Check Airflow in Classrooms; Officials Say It's CDC-Recommended

August 28, 2020

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Workers with the New York City Department of Education are using toilet paper on sticks to measure airflow in school classrooms before students return, and officials say the simple technique is recommended by the CDC amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a tweet Wednesday, City Councilman Mark Treyger posted photos that show a worker using a wooden stick with toilet paper at the end of it to apparently test airflow in a classroom.

    “The official and comprehensive NYC inter-agency classroom ventilation inspection process,” Treyger commented.

    Video obtained by the New York Post shows the technique being used by the worker.

    Asked about the method at his daily briefing Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said: "I can't give you a great technical answer. I can say that – I talked this morning with our health folks and they said, 'Yeah, it is a matter of making sure there's just consistent airflow coming out of it.' And that's actually the way the CDC recommends you test these things as well."

    Of the technique, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said: "So this is a CDC recommended method for testing air flow. What the engineers also said to us, which was very powerful, is that in this building, they have these very large sweeping windows. So they are also testing to make sure that you can open windows and have that air exchange as well. So it's all part determining and making sure that we're able to have air flow in a building. And again, that's a CDC recommended method for testing flow."

    Reacting to Treyger’s Twitter post, DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer told Gothamist in a statement: “Ventilation Action Teams are comprised of licensed professional engineers who are analyzing building ventilation components to determine if they are functioning and what, if any, repairs must be made.”

    “This includes a 'tissue test' which is a CDC recommended way of determining airflow. Air quality tests will be conducted with certified CO2 readers. The Council Member should reach out to us with his concerns before jumping to conclusions on the internet,” Styer said.

    Earlier this week, de Blasio announced every room in every school will be inspected by the newly formed School Ventilation Action Teams. Rooms that do not pass inspection won’t be used, the mayor said.

    There are over 100 teams of professional engineers walking through every space of school buildings in city. They will examine all ventilation systems and report issues if found, the mayor said.

    Each school will have a team of at least two to four professional engineers.

    Inspections began Tuesday and will be complete by Sept. 1, with all results to be posted online by Sept. 4, Carranza said. School is scheduled to start Sept. 10.

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