As only a little is known about the COVID-19, and a lot is yet to be discovered. Nevertheless, scientists have agreed that it’s highly contagious and mainly spreads through air transmission.
Researchers have found flu and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (a causative agent of TB), COVID-19 also spreads when a healthy person comes in contact with a virus-laden droplet expelled through sneezing, coughing, or talking. It can also gain entry into a host through a mucosal opening when he touches a surface where the pathogen was most likely resting – for instance, touching doorknobs or other surfaces.
Now, here’s the big question that troubles our mind: If coronavirus is an airborne pathogen, (which transmits through the air), then how far can it travel in the air?
As demonstrated by a recent study, coronavirus can stay active for three hours before it settles somewhere. The World Health Organization (WHO), which earlier denied the COVID-19 spread through aerosols, has also revised its stance. With its turnaround, it is evident that the airborne transmission of COVID-19 may also be possible indoors when an infected person exhales it through coughing or sneezing. A healthy one then inhales it. (It applies especially to people in crowded places for a prolonged period or those living with poor ventilation).
A research conducted by the University of California Davis and the University of Oregon revealed that opening windows in the indoor capacities could dilute the air, consequently limiting the viral spread. But it isn’t practical during summers as the other health risks tag along with the extreme temperature.
Given the concern, safety experts have gone at length to take steps to optimize the indoor airflow and ventilation to reduce the viral spread without the exposure to the high temperature. Concerning this, a question arises that by adjusting the airflows, whether an HVAC -Heating, ventilation, and Air Conditioning system can act as a coping system amid this?
The first thing worth noticing is that unlike the open windows, which draw fresh air from the outside, the majority of air-conditioners recirculate air within enclosed spaces.
In a large building with central air conditioning, the same air recirculates within the whole building, which is a more significant concern than having to inhale the air recirculated within an apartment with its separate air conditioning.
How Can HVAC Upgradation Minimize the Spread of COVID-19?
HVAC can potentially spread a virus across rooms or a building when a high-speed air flows past an infected individual to another. So, it’s high time to make some upgrades to its structure to manage airflow. Installling, replacing and maintaning filters in an HVAC system is a good start. Building managers should make the following control-setting changes in HVAC to help their tenants feel safe from the outbreak.
- Reduce the air recirculation indoors by exchanging fresh air from outside. It can be done by configuring the ducted HVAC system. To intensify the air replacement, the HVAC could run without interruption or being shut down on weekends. Because if ventilation ceases by shutting off HVAC, the risk of being exposed to the infection increases.
Buildings with old air conditioning systems should undergo HVAC hardware upgradation, which may include:
- Replacement of fixed-speed fan motors with the variable-speed ones to improve the airflow.
- Introduction of the airflow control system that is sensitive to pressure to allow the smooth airflow adjustment.
- Installing an air purification system: filtration is the most effective method so far. Thermal sterilization is also productive as it inactivates the pathogens but doesn’t eradicate them. Ionic purifiers, ozone generators are also incorporated in the HVAC system to be at a safe distance from coronavirus.
But even there is a limit to an AC filtration process against the airborne viruses. Whether you live in a separate dormitory or a shared one, the risk of contact with the virus is always there. So, installing a portable HEPA filter is a good start.
Suppose you’re in New York City and stressing over whether your HVAC system can capture these biological particles or not. You can search for HVAC repair in NYC or AC repair NYC to have them installed in your house and come across a reliable company who can provide you HVAC unit with the best filtration.
But even this filter may not protect you entirely, because a community can easily fall prey to this pandemic if it doesn’t take a reasonable level of precautions. So, the WHO guidelines of social distancing should always be a top priority.