Can Air Conditioning Spread COVID-19 Coronavirus?

By Ivan Pesut on March 26 2020 in Answer

There is, as of yet, no conclusive proof that air-conditioners spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But risks remain.
There is, as of yet, no conclusive proof that air-conditioners spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But risks remain.
  • Home air conditioning systems cannot spread the coronavirus from the outside
  • Central air conditioning system is usually used in places with bigger crowds of people and can contribute to the spread.
  • The flow of the outdoor air should be enabled regardless of the type of air conditioning system being used.

COVID-19 Coronavirus is a new virus, and the experts are still learning how exactly is spreads. So far, a couple of ways of transmission have been determined. The virus is mainly transmitted from person to person, especially if a person is in close contact with the infected person (within 6 feet). If an infected person coughs or sneezes, another person can get infected through respiratory droplets. The virus can also remain on some surfaces, which is why people must avoid touching their faces as the virus can also be transmitted from touching surfaces. But with summer coming and with countries like India being in lockdown because of COVID-19, many are starting to wonder whether air conditioning can spread COVID-19.  

Difference Between Home And Central Air Conditioning

Generally speaking, the poor quality of indoor air can help in the spread of all diseases and other pollutants. According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people spend around 90% of their lives indoors. The pollution of indoor air is among the most significant environmental hazards in the U.S. But when it comes to COVID-19, experts are still researching and weighing their opinions. So far, they have concluded that the spread of COVID-19 through systems of air conditioning depends on the type that is used. According to experts, people using their home air conditioning are not at risk of infection, especially if they are remaining at home having no contact with the rest of the population. But when it comes to central air conditioning, situations may vary. 

Which Places Use Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning is usually installed at larger commercial spaces like shopping malls and at more modern apartments. This type of air conditioning is not a risk for spreading COVID-19 because of its technical properties but because it is usually used at places with a lot of people. Researchers have studied the air conditioning system on the cruise Diamond Princess which had almost half of passengers infected with COVID-19. They found out the particles of the virus on various surfaces around the ship. According to this research, the virus partially spread through the air conditioning system as it was not able to filter out the virus particles. Still, this does not mean that it was the air conditioning system fault for the spread. Simply, an infection was already existing among people on board, and the air conditioning helped in the spread as passengers remained on the ship, using the same air conditioning system. 

So, What To Do Then?

Firstly, you should avoid places with larger crowds of people. This is already a recommended measure of social distancing. With warmer climate and central air conditioning being at function, places like shopping malls may pose a certain risk of infection. Still, it should be noted that the risk is not as large as it seems, and more studies will have to be conducted. The virus cannot be suspended in the air for a long time, so there is not that much chance that it will enter the air conditioning system. Also, ventilation systems of all commercial places are currently working extra to enhance air quality. Experts note that in your homes, air conditioning does not pose a risk of infection as long as there is no one infected with the virus inside. Still, it is recommended to enable the outdoor air to enter the room from time to time by opening the window or increasing the outdoor airflow rate with window air conditioning systems. 

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