Can Air Conditioners Spread COVID-19? Not Likely
We are expected to have temp near 80 degrees later this week, and that generally means people will be turning on their air conditioners. A question that I have been hearing a lot of lately has to deal with whether or not an air conditioner can spread COVID-19. The answer is, probably not.
According to an article on Healthline.com talked to William P. Bahnfleth, Ph.D. professor of engineering at the Pennsylvania State University also the chair of the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Epidemic Task Force and he stated that:
"A well-functioning air conditioning system in [a] restaurant that actively provide[s] the appropriate amount of ventilation and [has] good filters for particulate matter would have greatly lowered [a] concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in the air..."
Bahnfleth was responding to a May 4th report that a Chinese restaurant's air conditioner was to blame for an outbreak in China.
A statement on the ASHRAE task force website states that:
"Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.
Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus."
What this all boils down to is that a properly functioning air conditioning unit in your home, a store, or restaurant won't cause more cases of exposure. The other key to staying safe is a byproduct of social distancing, which allows more airflow in the area keeping the airborne virus moving. According to a WUSA-TV report "Johns Hopkins researchers found that after social distancing ventilation was the second most significant part of preventing infection spread because air conditioning removes air from a room where there are virus droplets."
It might be a good time to get those A/C units serviced so you know they are running at their peak performance not only to keep us cool this summer but also healthy.