Can air conditioners spread coronavirus? Experts discuss latest on COVID-19 indoor airborne spread potential

Coronavirus

(WTNH) — With more evidence from scientists revealing that there may be more to an airborne spread of COVID-19, attention to air quality in buildings and schools is becoming a consideration.

As fast as scientists are working on a COVID-19 vaccine and/or treatment, they are also trying to figure out exactly how it spreads through the air indoors. Not just the sneeze droplets, but aerosol particles that can float and linger.

“The virus can be isolated in small air particles that can stand in the air for a while and that sometimes you can identify the virus in places that are really distant from the person who is sick, so while we don’t think it’s a major route of transmission, it definitely is a concern,” says Infectious Disease Specialist at Yale Medicine and Associate Professor at Yale University, Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu.

That concern is now growing. The WHO has now agreed to review airborne spread evidence – after earlier this week receiving an open letter from 239 concerned researchers.

They want to see better guidelines on not re-circulating indoor air, germicidal ultraviolet lights, and highly effective air filtration in buildings.

“The air could circulate within those buildings and the people could re-breathe some of the air, which facilitates transmission between individuals, but there’s certain kinds of filters that can filter out small particles including viral particles. They’re called HEPA filters and they’re increasingly being considered for air filtration systems to decrease them,” says Dr. Ogbuagu.

Indoor air quality is something we’ll be hearing more about as schools in Connecticut prepare to re-open in the fall.

ASHRE – the industry group that sets HVAC standards nationwide – has determined that the risk of airborne coronavirus transmission indoors is serious enough that building systems should be modified to try to stop it.

WEB EXTRA: See the full interview with Dr. Ogbuagu below.

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