Ventilation and air filtration provided by heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) can help to reduce the airborne concentration of COVID-19 and the risk of transmission.
Executive director of the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors’ Association, Sumit Oberoi, said that the role of HVAC systems in mitigating the risk of airborne transmission should be part of a broader strategy to limit the risk of infection.
“Although not the main path of infection, airborne transmission of COVID-19 does appear possible according to a growing body of research,” he said.
“Good ventilation within a building can help reduce this risk, so owners and operators should take a proactive approach that may include changes to the operation of HVAC systems.”
The specific options available to owners and operators will depend on a range of factors, including the design and type of HVAC system, building usage and occupancy, and health and safety risks associated with indoor thermal conditions.
“Changes to system operations will impact the heating and cooling capacity of the building and could increase the energy consumption,” Oberoi said.
“Even the most advanced HVAC systems are unable to control all airflows, making it impossible to completely prevent the dissemination of infectious aerosols using indoor climate control measures alone.
“Therefore, decisions should be taken after considering all relevant factors and in consultation with experts in HVAC design and system configuration.
Oberoi said HVAC measures should be used as part of an overall strategy which includes other organisational and behavioural measures such as social distancing, cleaning practices, the use of personal protective equipment.
The AMCA Position Statement on HVAC and COVID-19 is available for download on the AMCA web site.