Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, numerous questions have been asked across different fields, primarily focusing on how the virus spreads. When experts determined that the virus was airborne, it had naturally drawn the attention on how air circulates around us.
In many residential and commercial buildings
, the HVAC system is the primary mean of air circulation which raised many questions concerning he role of HVAC systems
in spreading the COVID-19 virus. In this piece, we answer these questions to the best of our knowledge. The truth is that the pandemic crisis escalated with such a rapid pace, that the scientific community was not given the necessary time to draw solid conclusions regarding the role of HVAC systems in the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, similar scenarios, with other viruses with similar characteristics, have been extensively studied in the past which allowed the experts to form an opinion about COVID-19 and HVAC systems.
Covid-19 and HVAC systems: Where are we, and what do we know?
Perhaps, we should begin by stating that there has not been any conclusive proof about HVAC systems transmitting Covid-19. As it is already widespread known, the two main ways for the virus to be transmitted is by direct contact with a person who carries the virus or by touching your eyes, nose or mouth after coming in contact with infected surfaces.
According to experts, it is theoretically possible for Covid-19 to be transmitted through the air, as virus particles could stay airborne in small droplets for some hours in certain conditions. There is a presumption that these particles could remain in the air long enough to get into the air distribution unit
. Although experts have said, the risk of the virus transmitting via this means is low.
There are preventive tactics that further reduces the risk of an HVAC system getting contaminated with the virus. However, these tactics are part of a grand plan that comes after avoiding the primary person-to-person means of transmission.
Some of the preventive measures proposed to help reduce the possibility of HVAC systems being a mean of the virus spread are:
- The use of higher efficiency filters that traps the virus particles
- Installation of UV light technology
- Increase in humidity levels that deactivates the airborne particles
- Scaling up building ventilation to dilute virus particles
- Sanitizing the components of the air conditioner periodically
High-efficiency HVAC filters can capture several small particles, viruses included, and eliminate them from the airflow in your environment. Therefore HVAC systems with higher efficiency filtration have been proposed to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spread. However, they do not fully eliminate the threat. In addition, UV disinfection systems can be introduced in HVAC systems in order to kill microbes, such as viruses, using ultraviolet light. Although this has been effective against other coronaviruses, it has not been yet tested against Covid-19.
Using Fans and AC during the Covid-19 Pandemic
The use of air conditioning units in indoor spaces filled with multiple people can potentially help the spread of infected droplets. These infected droplets can originate from sneezing, coughing or just normal breathing of infected people and can potentially be distributed via the fans of an HVAC system.
According to experts' guidelines, the use of air conditioners in a room should always be accompanied by outdoor air intake, either by slightly opening the windows to allow natural ventilation or by adjusting the percentage of air recirculation and fresh air intake in larger AHU systems. It is also recommended that the HVAC systems undergo frequent maintenance in order to further reduce the risk of storing microbes.
Consequently, it is of great importance that all internal spaces are properly ventilated and to avoid gatherings of high number of people in enclosed areas. The same principles apply for residential buildings as well, however the risk of virus transmission through a residential HVAC system is rather limited.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for the proper design, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems. There are a number of strategies that can be followed in order to minimize the risk of spreading the virus through the HVAC system, such as the use of high efficiency filters or UV disinfectants and to allow sufficient ventilation of spaces. More importantly, however, is to follow the fundamental protective measures, for example to avoid large gatherings of people, to respect social distancing and follow proper hygiene practices.
CO2 monitoring system to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contamination
Fresh indoor air reduces the risk of COVID-19 contaminations. Sentera HVAC sensors check whether there is sufficient fresh air supply. The measurements can be visualised via a 5-inch touchscreen. The risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus is higher in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. Transmission of COVID-19 via aerosols rarely occurs outdoor or in enclosed spaces with a large volume. The general recommendation is to deactivate indoor air recirculation of the ventilation system, to increase the supply rate of fresh air and the extraction rate of stale air. The ventilation system should remain active on continuous basis.
Why UVCpectra Tube?
Fresh Air is gaining as much importance as hand washing, clean water etc. It cannot be neglected in Total Hygiene Concepts. Viruses have been proven to be transported by air. UVCpectra air disinfection device eliminates microorganisms such as COVID-19 with advanced technology at maximum dose per steady with no additional engineering required