Indoor spaces with poor ventilation make it easier for the spread of COVID-19. What does this mean for AC units?
Ventilation and coronavirus are two topics that are closely linked. While at the start of the pandemic most people were spending the majority of their time indoors, now that summer is here, people are trying to spend time outside while hopefully still keeping their social distance.
As we learn more about the virus, government officials and scientists have expressed their fears about indoor spaces and poor ventilation, since these can facilitate the spread of the virus. What does that mean for air conditioning?
Scientists know that small closed spaces with poor ventilation make it more likely for the spread of the virus, especially if we’re talking about an elevator or a crowded subway. Outdoor spaces like public parks are the safest places for people to be, mostly because there’s natural air flow and lots of space that makes social distancing possible.
When it comes to air conditioning, it appears that it can help spread the virus, especially if the unit is located in a small space. This is the main reason why it’s so hard to avoid the virus when a member of your household has caught it.
“If someone in the house who is infected with the virus is coughing and sneezing and not being careful, then tiny virus particles in respiratory droplets could be circulated in the air. Anything that moves air currents around the room can spread these droplets, whether it is an air conditioning system, a window-mounted AC unit, a forced heating system, or even a fan,” explains Mount Sinai Hospital.
AC units and ventilators can also aerosolize the virus, preventing it from falling into surfaces. Once the virus is aerosolized, it continues to float in the air, where it’s easier to breathe in.
There’s a lot of stuff that remains confusing about COVID-19, which is why it’s important to stay careful and vigilant, even when you think you might be overreacting. Try to avoid cluttered spaces with poor ventilation and always maintain 6-feet of distance between yourself and others.
When it comes to your house or bedroom, keep the windows open and try to get some natural air flow going. Clean your air filters often or buy ones that automatically clean themselves and prevent the spread of respiratory droplets.