Although it feels like we have been living with Covid-19 for what seems like years, there is still a lot we are uncovering about the highly contagious virus. Covid-19 is primarily spread via airborne droplets from infected people, which means there’s a possible risk of airborne transmission. This raises the question, does an HVAC system play a role in its spread?
Viral particles don’t typically range in size. Usually, they are around .1 microns, and they travel long distances. Larger droplets, ones that can be hundreds of sizes larger, typically only travel a couple of meters. Small droplets will usually evaporate before they settle on any surface. This means they may linger in the air.
There is still a mountain of research that needs to be done, as we don’t fully know how long it can last in the air. The World Health Organization initially believed there was little to no known airborne transmission, however, they have since changed their stance. Some studies suggest it may only last a few hours in the air.
The Role of an HVAC System Has
Since HVAC systems play a crucial role in ventilating rooms, they may be responsible for spreading virus particles. Because of this, there can be ways to mitigate spreading the virus by adjusting HVAC settings.
An HVAC system can be configured to promote fresh air exchange and reduce circulation. Continuously running the system could help replace the air without speeding up the airflow. This prevents the need for shutting down the system. And because everyone is trying their hardest to reduce the spread, optimizing indoor ventilation can be a great step in that direction.
How an HVAC System Can Prevent the Spread
Optimizing an HVAC system’s settings could improve air quality and lower the risk of spreading Covid-19. For older systems, it might be time to upgrade some parts. Some examples are: improving airflow systems, installing purification systems, and making the switch from fixed-speed motors to variable-speed.
Filtration is the simplest method for purifying the air. Other options include thermal sterilization or irradiation, which is a process that inactivates biological particles (a.k.a virus particles). Another great route to explore is an ozone generator, as well as an ionic purifier.
The jury is still out as to whether a building’s HVAC system has a significant role in spreading Covid-19. However, anyway, we can slow down the spread of the novel virus is worth imploring.