Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
How Does Infected Air Travel? How Can We Stop It?
As the weeks and months slowly pass, scientists and researchers are steadily learning more about all the possible ways that the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, may be able to spread.
It nearly goes without saying that not everyone in the scientific and public health education communities is in agreement about these new findings; however, there is sufficient consensus to begin channeling research funding towards improving building HVAC systems and indoor air quality.
In fact, researchers right here in Canada just received $444,000 in research funding to identify specific HVAC system improvements in order to reduce airborne virus transmission.
This is both scary and promising!
Indoor air quality experts at the University of Toronto have also identified four key ways that aerosol SARS-CoV-2 particles could travel through the air from an infected person and infect someone else.
In this post, we bring you up to date on these new airflow patterns and share four ways you can take action to protect yourself and your family.
Four Ways Infected Air Can Use Ventilation Systems to Travel
CTV News recently shared the findings of a University of Toronto indoor air quality expert and researcher named Jeffrey Siegel, PhD.
As Dr. Siegel explained, if infectious aerosol droplets were to become airborne, they could potentially use four different airflow pathways to infect new people.
Four Airflow Pathways For COVID-19 Particles
1. Ventilation flowing into public or shared spaces.
When ventilation sends air into public areas such as hallways, corridors, elevators, lobbies, restrooms, laundry rooms, workout rooms and other similar multi-use spaces, this air can then flow out and continue its journey, carrying infectious aerosol airborne particles with it.
2. Ventilation between two open adjacent windows.
This can be especially relevant in more dense urban areas where dwellings or work spaces can be so close together that opening one window may cause airflow to travel between two different dwellings or buildings.
3. Ventilation from plumbing pipes, registers/vents and exhausts.
More than one case of COVID-19 transmission has occurred in China due to airborne aerosol transmission involving sewage, plumbing pipes and exhaust fans.
Because the new novel coronavirus can also remain bioactive in human waste, it can be transmitted if there is any leaking or seepage from toilets or plumbing pipes. Use of contactless air dryers and exhaust vents can blow the droplets into the air, where you may unknowingly come into contact with them.
4. Ventilation from a shared HVAC system.
Any space that uses a shared ventilation system, such as a central (ducted) HVAC system, may act as a conduit for infectious aerosol droplets containing COVID-19 to travel from an infected person to reach new people.
While these four pathways are especially concerning in multi-unit spaces such as office buildings, condominiums and apartment complexes, they can be relevant in single family dwellings also, especially if one family member is immune-compromised or recovering from COVID-19.
Four Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself from Infectious Air
While many public agencies worldwide are still hesitant to come right out and state that COVID-19 can be transmitted by aerosol airborne microparticles, most research scientists are more outspoken.
In one recent Nature journal article, an Australian researcher came right out and stated that the scientific community looks at the question of COVID-19 spreading through the air as a “no brainer.”
That being said, we feel it makes sense to share information right away about practical ways to protect yourself, your workers and your family from ventilation-related COVID-19 risks.
More caution rather than less seems to be the order of the day right now, and it just seems smart for each of us to do whatever we can do to stay healthy and safe.
So here are four steps you can take now to protect yourself from the possibility of contracting COVID-19 through airborne transmission in ventilation systems.
How To Protect Yourself From Infectious Air
1. Increase indoor air ventilation using fresh air sources.
Indoor air quality researchers continue to emphasize the importance of increased indoor ventilation, or more fresh air flowing through your indoor space.
Now, researchers are emphasizing fresh air and not recirculated air. If your HVAC has the option, make sure it is set to “fresh air”.
A heat recovery ventilator or HRV is the gold standard in providing continuous fresh air circulation inside any space. The HRV works with any central (ducted) HVAC system to pull in fresh air that can dilute airborne infectious particles and push them out with the stale indoor air.
2. Use portable or central HEPA filtration to remove airborne microparticles.
Researchers have posted several ways that coronavirus particles might become airborne in order to travel longer distances using airflow (ventilation) systems. One way is by attaching to airborne solid microparticles. If a small aerosol droplet can attach to a microparticle solid, it can go wherever that solid particle goes - including into your lungs.
HEPA filtration is still the gold standard for high-density air filtration today.
3. Add ultraviolet purification near any air source.
Short-wave ultraviolet band-C light can potentially neutralize even very small coronavirus particles – if it can reach them.
Central UV purifiers can irradiate your HVAC coils as air passes over them, while portable purifiers can purify the circulating air in smaller or non-ducted spaces.
4. Keep wearing your mask, washing your hands and social distancing.
One of the deadliest aspects of COVID-19 is how it can jump from an asymptomatic infected person to someone new.
Because there are so many people walking around who don’t even know they have COVID-19, this is not the time to reduce your regular personal protective routines.
Get in Touch
Clean Air Solutions in Hamilton is dedicated to ensuring the cleanliness of your indoor air. We are open and serving you safely with contactless options.
For our customers who want to schedule an indoor air duct cleaning, we are currently offering a 10 percent discount across the board for any of our three packages!