Experts have routinely said that you're more at risk of COVID-19 infection while in indoor spaces than you are when outdoors.
But is it possible to take steps to mitigate your risk indoors?
The VERIFY team dug into what the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had to say on the topic.
Can HVAC systems cut down on COVID-19 transmission?
The WHO says a well-maintained and operated air conditioning system can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor spaces. The key is that the system should help increase the rate of airflow.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to the CDC, HVAC systems ideally operate by outdoor air entering the system, then filters remove “large particulate matter and many microorganisms.”
The CDC also recommends that in order to prevent airborne infections, rooms should have between six and 12 full cycles of new air per hour, like the ones in hospitals.
A recent update on the WHO website stated that “a well-maintained and operated system can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor spaces by increasing the rate of air change, reducing re-circulation of air and increasing the use of outdoor air.”
On the other hand, the organizations make clear that systems and settings that recirculate air should be avoided.
Other steps to improve ventilation in indoor public spaces and buildings includes opening windows and disabling ventilation controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy.
Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be helpful to have HVAC systems regularly inspected, maintained and cleaned, but nothing substitutes the quality of natural ventilation.
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