To reduce transmission of respiratory diseases and to protect communities against illnesses like COVID-19, the CDC has released new recommendations on improving indoor ventilation and air quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes viral COVID-19 particles can linger in the air after a sick person has left the room – sometimes remaining airborne for hours. Because people can get sick from breathing in these droplets and viral particles, using protective ventilation strategies can prevent them from accumulating indoors.
The Blue Ridge Health District sent out advice for upgrading your ventilation system to reduce viral transmission between families, friends and colleagues in indoor settings.
Follow the strategies below to upgrade your ventilation system and reduce viral transmission:
- Aim for 5. Aim to deliver five or more air changes per hour of clean air to rooms in your building. This will help reduce the number of viral particles in the air. You may need to use a combination of ventilation (air supply, filtration and air treatment) strategies to reach this target.
- Upgrade filters. Use filters rated MERV-13 or higher, when possible. Using higher-rated filters in your heating or air conditioning system can remove more germs in the air than lower-rated filters.
- Turn your HVAC system “ON”. Set your ventilation system to circulate more air when people are in the building. You can do this by setting the thermostat’s fan control to the “ON” position instead of “AUTO.” This will make the fan operate continuously but can increase fan energy use, so limit use to when needed.
- Add fresh air. Bring more clean outdoor air into spaces by opening windows and doors and using exhaust fans. Even small openings can help.
- Add air cleaners. Air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) filter air with high-efficiency filters that remove germs from the air. Choose one that’s the right size for your space.
- Install UV air treatment systems. UV air treatment systems can kill germs in the air. They can also provide a high level of effective air changes per hour while using little energy.
- Use portable carbon dioxide monitors. A portable CO2 monitor can help you determine how stale or fresh the air is in rooms. Readings above 800 parts per million (ppm) suggest that you may need to bring more fresh, outdoor air into the space.
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