WILL the authorities advise people to limit the use of air-conditioning at home and take more fresh-air breaks at the workplace?
Air-conditioning units were never healthy in the first place. Opening a window and getting fresh air as often as possible was always the best approach, and even more essential now in a world with the presence of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
According to a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology, occupants of air-conditioned office buildings reported more symptoms of ill health than those who worked in buildings with natural ventilation.
In a research letter for the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers linked nine coronavirus infections in Guangzhou to one 63-year-old woman. It was found, upon further investigation, that most of the occupants of a restaurant had not had direct contact with her, but sat nearby at other tables. It seems as though ventilation blew viral particles around the restaurant. Virus transmission in this outbreak cannot be explained by droplet transmission alone.
“Air-conditioning units will take air and re-circulate it through the room, and it’s through that mechanism that these coronavirus droplets can be transmitted,” said Qingyan Chen, a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University.
The main study that has raised concerns about air-conditioning during the pandemic was one published April 2 about a restaurant in China. Could this also explain transmission of the virus on cruise ships? According to a Purdue University air quality expert, cruise ship air-conditioning systems are not designed to filter out particles as small as the coronavirus, allowing the disease to rapidly circulate to other cabins.
Maybe we should limit the use of air-conditioning units in these uncertain times.