Can HVAC systems help prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

July 16 2020

Can HVAC systems help prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

Modifications to heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems might help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus by purifying air, improving ventilation, and managing airflows. Read the full article, written collaboratively by the Advanced Industries Practice. The authors include Stephanie Balgeman, Ben Meigs, Stephan Mohr, Arvid Niemöller, and Paolo Spranzi.

A recent study demonstrated that coronavirus particles may be active for up
to three hours after their release.(1) Although the World Health Organization (WHO) initially held that the coronavirus could not be spread through  aerosols, it recently reversed its stance. The WHO guidelines now state that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be possible indoors, especially for people who spend extended periods in crowded,
poorly ventilated rooms.(2)

The WHO’s turnaround came after the organization received an open letter
from 293 scientists asking the organization to reconsider its position on airborne transmission.(3)

Given the concern about airborne transmission, building managers, safety experts, and others might take steps to optimize ventilation and airflow indoors and limit viral spread. Some simple moves may help. But this may also be a good time to think about improving air quality in buildings by significantly changing heating,ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems or by making physical changes to manage indoor airflows.

 

Recommendations from Eurovent and REHVA

As response to the coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, Eurovent as well as REHVA experts drafted recommendations, and a guidance document on how to operate and use building services in areas with a coronavirus outbreak to prevent the spread of COVID-19 depending on HVAC or plumbing systems related factors.

Find the recommendations and guidance document here:
Eurovent recommendations
REHVA

 

Sources:
1) Neeltje van Doremalen et al, “Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1,” New England Journal of Medicine,
March 17, 2020, nejm.org.
2) “Q&A: How is coronavirus transmitted?,” World Health Organization, July 9, 2020, who.int.
3) Apoorva Mandavilli, “293 experts with one big claim: The coronavirus is airborne,” New York Times, July 4, 2020, nytimes.com

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