Safety of air recirculation/conditioning systems in buildings and on public transport

The potential for air conditioning and recirculation systems in buildings and buses to contribute to the spread of airborne virus, should be assessed and factored into guidance on their safe operation and on the matters affecting relaxation of lockdown arrangements. Scottish Government should provide evidence-based guidance to businesses, commercial landlords and transport operators on the safe operation of air conditioning and recirculation systems. In circumstances where the Scottish Government considers that air recirculation systems could compromise the effect of social distancing, they should consider requiring alternative measures, such as extract or natural ventilation or wider spacing between individuals than 2 metres, if these would reduce transmission risks. 

Why the contribution is important

If air handling systems are likely to increase the risk of airborne virus transmission, they could compromise or even negate the benefits of social distancing indoors and increase the transmission "R" factor. There is some published evidence to suggest that air conditioning systems could contribute to coronavirus transmission patterns viz:  Volume 26, Number 7—July 2020, Research Letter: "COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020", https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/7/20-0764_article  The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations has provided an assessment and guidance to its members, which includes assessment of risks and additional measures: REHVA COVID-19 guidance document, April 3, 2020, "How to operate and use building services in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) virus (SARS-CoV-2) in workplaces" https://www.rehva.eu/activities/covid-19-guidance

by PeterM on May 10, 2020 at 09:34PM

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