Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am interested in volunteering, but do I qualify for the study?

A: The essential requirement for this study is to make sure that the management of a building located within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is interested in participating in the study. Please discuss your interest with your building manager(s) if you are a resident before signing up for the study. We will not be able to conduct any measurements without having the manager’s approval.

Q: The building where I live seems unqualified for the study, but I guess some of my friends’/relatives’ may fit. How can I spread the word to let them know about your campaign?

A: Feel free to share our website, Facebook page, and Twitter page with your friends. We prefer the sign-up sheet filled by people from the same building who would participate in the study. If, for any reason, your friends ask you to fill out the form on their behalf, inform us about the situation through the last question of the sign-up sheet.

Q: What is the time commitment for volunteering? 

A: About half an hour. We will put air samplers near your ventilation system’s inlet and outlet openings during each session. After deploying the samplers, we will leave the space and come back to gather them in about 9 hours. Like us, you are not required to be present during the sampling since the samplers work automatically. Depending on the ventilation openings, a building staff/resident may be required to lead us to the site to deploy/gather the air samplers. For example, suppose your building is ventilated by a built-in mechanical system where the air handler is located on the rooftop. In that case, we will need to deploy the samplers on your rooftop.

If the management gives us temporary access to the site (by informing the concierge about our visit or giving us keys/fobs), we can do the job without taking time from the building staff. Note that we will schedule any single session with the management in such cases, and our team will not come to your building outside of the scheduled time.

Regardless of how and where we access the ventilation openings, we will strive to minimize any impacts on the residents. We will make no extra noise. Nor will we disturb people’s commute through the building halls, lobby, elevators, and other shared spaces.

Q: Will you go inside the building units to conduct the measurements?

A: Not at all. BETAA22 is not an indoor sampling campaign. We will deploy the air samplers near the ventilation openings located outdoors. We may pass through the building’s indoor shared spaces like the lobby and the elevators for a short time to commute to the sampling site.

Q: What preventive measures are taken by the BETTA22 team to ensure a safe visit in terms of the COVID-19 risks?

A: As a research group focused on air quality, we know well about the COVID-19 propagation routes, primarily through the air. Therefore, we value your concerns about the COVID-19 risks and have set plans to minimize them.

Our team, three people at maximum, will wear masks and gloves all the time during our visit. We will keep a distance of at least two meters from building residents/staff, especially children. We will wait until an elevator is not in demand to use it. The objects and surfaces touched by the team members will be wiped/sprayed with appropriate sanitizing solutions. The team will not remove their mask or gloves unless they are outdoors and are keeping a social distance of at least two meters from other people present at the site.

We will be happy to discuss any further measures with the building management to ensure that our visit is safe enough for people’s health during this particular time.

Q: Are there any demands/hazards associated with your measurements? 

A: Both the demands and hazards are minimal. We will deploy one or two air samplers, each smaller than one cubic foot, at the site where the ventilation openings are located in your building. We may surround the samplers with an enclosure to ensure that they are not too much impacted by sunlight. The samplers suck air through a tiny opening on their body and make little noise.

The samplers are loaded with glass cartridges that are less likely to be broken. The cartridges are secured within the sampler’s framework. We will post a sign asking people to keep their distance (around 2 meters) from the samplers. This measure not only prevents the glass cartridges from being broken and causing cut hazards, but it also helps the reliability of sample results as some chemicals emitted by people during, for example, smoking, wearing perfumes, doing exercise, etc. may interfere with the results of our measurements. In case of broken glass cartridges (by accidentally kicking the samplers, sampler being impacted by a flying object like a ball, freebies, etc.), contact us immediately through (647) 685 – 1373. We will come and take care of the situation as soon as possible.

In the case of a broken glass cartridge, which is less likely as described above, the adsorbent powder filling the cartridge may come out of it. This powder called TENAX TA is pretty benign. However, it may cause skin or eye irritation if touched by bare hands or taken into one’s eyes. As mentioned above, do not touch anything in case of breaking the cartridges accidentally. Just contact us so that we can fix the situation promptly. We will post these precautionary points next to the sampling site to inform the bypasses.

The samplers are powered by connecting to electrical outlets by short cords (about 3 feet). If the electrical outlet is not near enough to the sampling site, we will use sufficiently long extension cords to power the samplers. In either case, the cables will be duct-taped to the floor to prevent any trip hazard. We will remove the tapes from the floor with caution after each visit.

The power demand of the samplers is pretty low. However, we can calculate the kilowatt-hours of electricity taken by the samplers, communicate the dollar amount to you, and make reimbursements upon your request.

Overall, the sampling team members are all engineering researchers from the University of Toronto. They have received detailed training in conducting research. They will strive professionally to minimize the already small risks of this research for you.

Q: But what is in it for me?

In addition to participating in cutting-edge research that benefits people’s health, we can provide you with a report about the significant chemicals present in the air coming out of your building. We can also inform you if the chemicals are within the toxic threshold, their potential sources, and what you can do to reduce their emissions.

Q: How will you protect my privacy?

A: Keeping your personal data confidential is very important to us. Our data analysis will not use your name or contact information (such as telephone numbers or addresses). We will not also publish your personal information. Instead, your building will be assigned an arbitrary code. All sample analysis and survey results will be linked only to this code. All personal information gathered will be encrypted while being used and destroyed at the end of the study.

Please feel free to let us know if you have suggestions for extra protection of your privacy. We will do our best to meet your expectations.

Q: What if I signed up as a volunteer but don’t want to or can’t continue with the study anymore?

A: Volunteers can withdraw from the study at any point with no consequences. We will stop all building visits and immediately destroy all of your personal information. But we might still use and analyze samples collected from earlier house visits and publish the results obtained from those samples.

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