Experts Worried That Air Conditioning Can Spread Coronavirus

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by The50centTourist

Easing restrictions means that more people will be in places that use HVAC systems to circulate and/or cool the air. Looks like we may need to be careful about how that happens.

Research indicates that air conditioning may circulate infectious droplets containing coronavirus. Researchers in China found air-conditioning blew droplets around a restaurant, infecting 10 people.

  • New research suggests that air conditioning may circulate infectious droplets containing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus.

  • Air conditioning’s role on your risk may be greater in public than at home.

  • Experts explain why new research touts humidity as being influential in how infectious airborne droplets can be, even as it relates to summer AC units.

Federal officials are exploring the role of the upcoming summer season on the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, debating experts’ arguments that humidity, temperatures, and direct sunshine won’t have a direct impact on the virality of COVID-19. But a new piece of evidence published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that a more pressing concern might be the role that air conditioners will play in keeping communities safe throughout the warmer months.

The newly published study found that nine people were infected with COVID-19 simply by sitting near an air-conditioning vent in a restaurant in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus was first identified. The study examined how one asymptomatic diner managed to impact diners around their vicinity as infectious droplets were circulated by the air conditioning system. The person in question sat at a table that was located in front of an AC unit. Four people at the person’s table later tested positive for COVID-19, as well as five people at neighboring tables.

John Lednicky, PhD, a microbiology and virology research specialist within the University of Florida‘s College of Public Health and Health Professions, has identified different kinds of potential air-borne exposures related to COVID-19 by actually pulling the virus out of the air. “Normally, many people can produce larger sized droplets, which tend to fall near the person, or medium-sized droplets that can fall a little further, up to six feet away,” Lednicky explains, stressing the importance of maintaining a six-foot berth around other people. “But there are also very small particles that can stay adrift in the air, causing inhalation exposure to aerosols… That’s exactly what happened in this restaurant.” The study also shared that “strong airflow from the air conditioner could have propagated droplets” from table to table in the immediate dining space.



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