Following a pandemic-induced shutdown, local SeaGoth bar/dance club The Mercury has been reopened for just over a year now. I haven’t returned yet, but I’d heard through the grapevine that they’d done a lot of work on their HVAC system during their hiatus, and apparently have a system that meets or exceeds what’s expected for hospital grade systems.
Sounds pretty good — but I was curious as to just what that meant for their air quality, especially as this is a basement club, and with any such place, is likely to have a lot of people talking and breathing heavily when out on the dance floor. Plus, while I’ve been told that many people are wearing masks while they’re there, it’s by no means 100% (and, of course, it’s safe to assume that those who don’t/won’t mask are at higher risk than those who do).
I had a friend who was heading out there last Saturday night for a little while, and between the one-year re-opening anniversary and there being a merchandise table to distribute shirts and hoodies that people had purchased in a recent fundraiser, we could expect that there would be a good number of people there, even early in the evening. My friend was kind enough to carry along my Aranet4 CO2 monitor during their time there.
Though only there for about an hour, while there, in order to get the best possible “worst case” scenario, they made sure to sit near the merchandise table where people were gathering, and went out on the dance floor a few times. Yesterday I picked up the monitor and loaded its record to see the results.
The end result was, to be entirely honest, much better than I’d expected. The air quality stayed in the green the entire time they were there, averaging around 800 ppm. This is really impressive for that sort of situation.
Of course, there are some definite caveats to this:
- It was the first hour, so even with their best efforts to find the most crowded areas, this may not be entirely indicative of what might be measured at peak times.
- This is a measure of CO2 levels, not COVID or other viruses; you can still be exposed even in a well-ventilated space, even if the likelihood is reduced.
- And because of that, however good the air quality is, there’s always the chance of talking with someone who is unmasked, asymptomatic, and exhaling their viral load directly into your face.
Since community transmission levels for the Seattle area are still pretty high, I’d still definitely recommend wearing a mask when out clubbing.
However, seeing measurements like this tells me that the money, time, and effort spent upgrading the club’s systems was well spent. I’m still keeping an eye on community transmission levels before I go out, but when I do, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable (though I will be staying masked as well).
(The spikes at the beginning and end of the graph are from when my friend was in their car going to and from the club.)