ASHRAE issues statements on COVID-19

In response to “widening false statements” in the US advising people not to run residential or commercial HVAC systems because of COVID-19, ASHRAE has issued its own statements on the matter.

“In light of the current global pandemic, it’s critically important that ASHRAE responds with guidance on mitigating the transmission of the virus, as well as ventilation and filtration recommendations,” says ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce.

The first statement addresses the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19.

“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled,” says ASHRAE. “Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”

The second statement emphasises the importance of continuing to operate HVAC systems to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission.

“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,” says ASHRAE.

“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.

“HVAC filters, along with other strategies, help to reduce virus transmission while removing other air contaminants that may have health effects.”

ASHRAE’s Environmental Health Committee has also developed an emerging issues brief to support the two above statements.

“There is great concern about the real possibility of transmission through the air of various pathogens,” the committee says, “especially SARS-CoV-2, among staff and administration in healthcare facilities, office workers, retail workers and patrons, manufacturing workers, and residents in private and public facilities and the general public in outdoor settings and in public transportation.”

For frequently asked questions and the latest guidance for healthcare facilities, residential buildings and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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