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ASHRAE releases core advice on reducing airborne spread

The ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has released new guidance to address control of airborne infectious aerosol exposure. It has also issued recommendations for communities of faith buildings.

During the course of 2020, experts placed increasing emphasis on the role of aerosols in transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Although at first the virus was thought to spread mainly through fomites and direct contact, health authorities such as the World Health Organization now acknowledge the importance of aerosol transmission, especially in “indoor, crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces, where infected person(s) spend long periods of time with others”.

ASHRAE’s core recommendations for reducing airborne infectious aerosol exposure focus on how HVAC&R systems can help prevent airborne transmission.

The advice is based on the concept that, within limits, “ventilation, filtration, and air cleaners can be deployed flexibly to achieve exposure-reduction goals, subject to constraints that may include comfort, energy use, and costs”. This is done by setting targets for equivalent clean air supply rate and expressing the performance of filters, air cleaners, and other removal mechanisms in these terms.

The one-page document lists information under five main points:

  • Public health guidance
  • Ventilation, filtration and air cleaning
  • Air distribution
  • HVAC system operation
  • System commissioning.

To read the recommendations, click here.

The task force’s Communities of Faith Buildings guidance offers recommendations on conducting worship services under epidemic conditions.

“The intent of the Communities of Faith guidance is to offer those who operate and care for buildings used for worship a plan for implementing short- and long-term HVAC strategies to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the SARS-CoV2-2 virus,” says Epidemic Task Force member Rick Karg.

“The document also helps communities move toward a new ‘normal’ operation after this public health emergency nears an end.”

For more information about the Communities of Faith Buildings guidance, click here.

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