ASHRAE: Keeping air-conditioners on can help control the spread of COVID-19

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ASHRAE: Keeping air-conditioners on can help control the spread of COVID-19

By Marianne Wilson - 04/21/2020
HVAC system

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning filters, along with other strategies, help to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, while removing other air contaminants that may have health effects.

That’s according to ASHRAE, which has reacted to what it called “widening false statements surrounding HVAC systems.”  

“ASHRAE officially opposes the advice not to run residential or commercial HVAC systems and asserts that keeping air conditioners on during this time can help control the spread of the virus,” the group stated.

ASHRAE has published two statements to define guidance on managing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 as it relates to the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems in buildings. With regards to airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, ASHRAE stated the following:

“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

In its second statement, on the operation of HVAC system, to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission, ASHRAE noted that the ventilation and filtration provided by HVAC systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2, thereby reducing the risk of transmission through the air. 

“In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus,” ASHRAE continued. 

ASHRAE has created the Epidemic Task Force, comprised of leading experts to address the relationship between the spread of disease and HVAC in buildings during of the current pandemic and future epidemics.

“In light of the current global pandemic, it’s critically important that ASHRAE responds with guidance on mitigating the transmission of the virus, as well as ventilation and filtration recommendations,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE president Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “ASHRAE has a significant role to play in ensuring safe and healthy building environments and these statements offer the expert strategies needed at this time.”

Expanded guidance is available on ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Resources webpage at ashrae.org/COVID19.

Founded in 1894, ASHRAE is a global professional society committed to advancing the arts and sciences of heating ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and their allied fields.