HVAC technicians have adopted some efficient strategies against the spread of coronavirus, which all companies with ventilation systems should consider; solutions which may often be simple, but can considerably reduce the risk of contamination in the workplace.
Covid-19 has displayed an ability to spread extremely rapidly, via direct contact with airborne secretions from infected people. The virus contained in their droplets of saliva can be dispersed into the air by a sneeze or cough and then transported by ventilation systems.
Airborne transmission of coronavirus
One of the main questions that HVAC suppliers and technicians are asked about the spread of the coronavirus is whether it can be spread by ventilation systems. The World Health Organisation’s answer is based on the study of the nature of the virus itself.
In order to survive, the coronavirus needs a moist environment to protect it, such as inside the lungs. The virus particles are however very heavy, so their spread via the atmosphere is limited to very short distances (estimated at around one or two metres).
The study does not, in any case, exclude the possibility that some of these particles might travel further, propelled by ventilation systems inside offices. It is in just such a scenario that HVAC technicians play a fundamental role in the fight against the spread of this pathogen.
The best preventative methods for HVAC systems
The preventative systems adopted by HVAC technicians in order to control the spread of the coronavirus are more or less the same as standard measures used to combat the airborne spread of pathogens. This means that ventilation systems must conform to regulations, have high efficiency filters and UV irradiation.
An up-to-date and well-maintained ventilation system can make a real difference in reducing the risk of contagion. In particular, if a system using an external air supply is used instead of recycling the air inside the building, the transmission of infected particles can be greatly limited.
The filters are important for the correct functioning of any ventilation system. To cope with the current emergency, however, it is advisable to upgrade the systems with very high efficiency HEPA filters. These filters are widely used in environments such as clean rooms, and have proven to be efficient in blocking harmful particles and other types of viruses.
It should however be underlined that they are not sufficient to guarantee complete protection from Covid-19.
In fact, the size of the virus particles is between 0.06 and 0.14 microns, so (despite blocking a good number of particles), a few particles may manage to get through. Experts assure that this number is very small, but it is important to bear it in mind.
The most efficient method suggested by HVAC technicians against the spread of coronavirus, remains UV irradiation. UV rays are particularly destructive for microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria, resulting in a purification percentage of 99.9%.
Many HVAC systems make extensive use of so-called UV germicide systems. Irradiation guarantees the disinfection of the components which enable the functioning of the systems themselves, sterilising the surfaces and eliminating dangerous pathogens. Given that UV rays have already been demonstrated to be effective against other variants of coronavirus, it is expected that they will also work against Covid-19.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith