These are strange times, indeed. We have more modern safety and sanitation conveniences than at any other moment in history.
Yet right now, we are all running scared from a virus that seems determined to outwit every effort we make to contain it.
It is hard to remember that influenza started in a similar way. The common flu was once a coronavirus.
This is not to say that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus now being called SARS-CoV-2, is just like coronaviruses past. It is not the flu. It is not anything other than what it is – COVID-19 – a new and potentially deadly virus in its own right.
However, we can still learn a great deal from how past viral epidemics were passed from one person to another and what we eventually did to protect ourselves.
In this timely post, learn about three confirmed ways to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus that you can implement right now.
The Latest News About How Coronavirus Spreads
The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS magazine is a major industry magazine for heating, air conditioning and ventilation experts throughout North America.
In the most recent edition, HVAC industry experts outlined what we now know about how coronavirus spreads:
- large waterborne droplet transmission from sneezing or coughing
- intermediate transmission by touching shared surfaces
- airborne transmission of smaller water droplets or virus particulates
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average transmission range from one person to another is about six feet. This is exactly why social distancing has been implemented as a further measure to limit the spread of coronavirus.
3 Confirmed Methods to Reduce Coronavirus Risk
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently released its position statement on available aids to combat the spread of coronavirus.
ASHRAE identified three reliable methods HVAC industry experts can recommend to customers to reduce the risk of airborne coronavirus transmission.
These three methods are as follows:
- UV air purification
ASHRAE explains that these three HVAC industry best practices can limit the spread of coronavirus in four important ways, by:
- providing a continual supply of fresh, uncontaminated air (ventilation)
- containing contaminated indoor air and exhausting it to the outdoors (ventilation)
- diluting indoor air with fresh outdoor air (ventilation)
- cleaning (filtration and purification) the existing indoor air
The bad news here is that very few existing residential and commercial HVAC systems are already set up to provide these four important air cleaning methods to at-risk persons, which right now is everyone.
But the good news is that all three of these methods are available right now for use with both residential and commercial HVAC systems.
How Ventilation Reduces Coronavirus Transmission Risk
Ventilation is not a new concept. Without adequate ventilation inside a home or workplace, air becomes stale, stagnant and polluted.
If indoor air gets too stale, it can literally make you sick – and that is without the added risk of coronavirus.
Ventilation used to take place naturally through small cracks and leaks in buildings. But today’s buildings are built to airtight standards, which is creating a ventilation problem.
To combat this, HVAC professionals recommend installing heat recovery ventilators (for less humid northern climates) or energy recovery ventilators (for more humid southern climates).
Heat recovery ventilation separates incoming fresh air from outgoing stale air. Thus, there is no intermingling of the two air streams. This prevents re-contamination of the fresh air coming into a space.
The Link Between UV Purification and Coronavirus
Understanding how coronavirus spreads from one person to another is key to stopping it. Now we know that this novel coronavirus spreads mainly through water droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
Inside each of those droplets are tiny virus particles. Inside each of those particles is a code that begins to replicate the virus inside its new host.
But ultraviolet light has a unique property to change the molecular structure of organic matter like viruses. When the molecular structure is changed, the code no longer works and the virus cannot replicate.
If ultraviolet light hits a virus particle, it will neutralize the threat it contains. This is why UV air purifiers are called “germicidal” purifiers. They neutralize germs.
The CDC does not recommend using UV purifiers directly on your skin because it can cause skin irritation and potentially skin cancer.
But you can install a UV air purifier to work with your existing HVAC system or purchase portable models that clean the air in smaller spaces.
Why Air Filtration Is Critical to Contain Coronavirus Particles
Yet another way that coronavirus spreads is by transmission of smaller airborne virus particles that are light enough to remain airborne for longer periods of time.
These particles may be able to travel farther distances and land on shared surfaces, where you might contact one of them and get infected.
The best way to filter out airborne particles is with a HEPA air filter. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. This type of filter was developed during World War II. Its purpose was to protect scientists working on technology for the atomic bomb. HEPA filters trapped radioactive micro-particles so the scientists wouldn’t inhale them.
HEPA filters can trap micro-particles as tiny as 1/100th the size of a single human hair. While there may be some coronavirus particles that are smaller than this size, the CDC has already stated that the majority of the coronavirus transmission threat comes from larger waterborne and airborne particles.
HEPA filters can be installed to work with any existing HVAC system. Portable models can be purchased for use in smaller spaces.
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