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Everything you need to know about air conditioning and the coronavirus

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is currently causing unprecedented and uncertain times for the entire globe, with the spread of the disease moving at incredible rates.

One of the major questions currently being asked in relation to COVID-19 is how is it spread and, more specifically, is it spread through air conditioning systems. Given that Australia is still currently experiencing some warm weather across parts of the country, people are concerned that turning on their aircon could spread the disease. So, can it?

There isn't a simple yes or no response that can given, as it depends on the air conditioning system and its filtration settings. For example, cruise ships use recycled air through their air conditioning systems. These systems can generally only filter out particles larger than 5,000 nanometers but similar illnesses to Coronavirus, such as SARS, are around 120 nanometers in size. Although we are unsure as to how big COVID-19 particles actually are at the moment, if it is around the same size at SARS then a filtration system on a cruise ship would spread the virus, not stem it. It is worth noting however that to minimise this risk, outside air (instead of recycled air) could be used in their air conditioning systems.

Alternatively, airlines such as Etihad are suggesting that their air conditioning systems filter out 99% of particles, offering peace of mind to those using air travel to return home during the COVID-19 outbreak. A hospital in Singapore has also been reviewing the possibility of transmission of the disease through their aircons, with some evidence that it can be transmitted in certain circumstances.

There is evidence to suggest that low temperature and low humidity in air conditioned environments may help with the survival of coronaviruses (such as SARS). This is why is it very important to check your filtration and ventilation settings on your air conditioning at home, as well as speaking to a professional about how your system is arranged.

In saying all this, the AIRAH (the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating) has not found any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spread through aircon systems in homes or workplaces to date.

Give Watmar Electrical a call on 0490 361 782 and we can discuss your air conditioning unit and its needs, including servicing and maintenance during this tricky time. We understand the importance of your health, and the health of those around us, so contact us today.

Resources:

Daily Mail (Coronavirus could be spread by air-conditioning and may be more contagious than previously thought, scientists believe after finding traces of the virus in hospital air-duct): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8086457/Coronavirus-spread-air-conditioning-contagious-previously-thought.html

Australian Government - Department of Health (Coronavirus): https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-social-distancing.pdf

The Fifth Estate (Coronavirus: What we know so far about managing the risk in buildings): https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/articles/coronavirus-what-we-know-so-far-about-managing-the-risk-in-buildings/

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