Q&A: The facts about COVID-19 and indoor air quality

COVID-19 has increased demand and questions about indoor air quality-related products.
The following questions and answers address the safety of HVAC systems as well as the benefits of Reliance air quality products.

Q: Is what’s stated in the news about the use of air conditioners spreading COVID-19 true? Can COVID-19 be spread by turning on your AC?

A: According to Public Health Ontario, there is insufficient evidence to prove air conditioners help spread viruses1. In fact, proper indoor ventilation is important and, on May 1, 2020, the government of Ontario recommended increasing air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase ventilation2. According the Public Health Ontario, evidence from the study in question is unfounded and there are several other ways the virus could have been transmitted. Rest assured, we will do our best to provide as much up-to-date information to you as credible expert sources release more information to the public.

Q: Should I still use my AC at this time?

A: Yes. During the summer months, your air conditioner brings you comfort and cooling and reduces the humidity in your home. Keep in mind that, on May 1, 2020, the government of Ontario released recommendations for re-opening the economy. One of these was to increase air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase ventilation as we adapt to COVID-193.

If you have a heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator connected to your air conditioner, disabling your air conditioner could be turning off your ventilation. You might also want to consider installing a recovery ventilator. Many contaminants found in indoor air are generated inside the home. These can be lowered by replacing your indoor air with air from outside.

Therefore, the best way to improve your indoor air quality is to improve your ventilation and provide more clean outside air to your living space. Consider adding a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to not only supply clean, fresh air, but recover the energy from the exhaust air. According to the Government of Ontario, one of the first recommendations on reopening the economy from COVID-19 is to increase air intake for building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Q: Why is air quality so important right now?

A:According to Public Health Ontario, improving indoor space ventilation3 is especially important now that we are spending almost all our time indoors at home. Efficient ventilation helps improve indoor air quality (IAQ)3. In fact, the Government of Ontario recommends increasing air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase ventilation as we adapt to COVID-194.

Q: What is the purpose of using an air filter?

A: Filtering the air can reduce indoor air pollutants. However, air quality is optimal when filters are combined with HRV or ERV systems and by reducing or eliminating contaminants at the source5. HEPA filters, for instance, are a great way to reduce air contaminants. These filters collect particle pollutants with a fine filter and electrostatic precipitators collect pollutants with electrostatic energy, which causes pollution to stick to the filter.

Q: Who should consider air filters and air quality in the home?

A: Air quality can impact everyone, however, those most affected by indoor air quality are generally people with asthma, allergies or other pre-existing conditions. Now that we are spending even more time at home, it’s more important than ever to consider air filters for improved indoor air quality.

Questions related to your business:

Q: Should I be concerned about customers/patrons entering my business? How should I respond?

A: At this time, there is no evidence being reported by health authorities to indicate that COVID-19 can spread over long distances such as through a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system6.

In fact, the Government of Ontario recommends increasing the air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase ventilation as we adapt COVID-197. It’s also worth reminding your customers/patrons that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, respiratory droplets generated when they cough or sneeze, touching something with the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands7.

As well, for your own peace of mind, the Canadian government has posted risk-informed decision-making guidelines for businesses, which can be used to assist in protecting your employees from COVID-198.

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