HVAC Systems and COVID-19: Should We Be Worried?


COVID-19 is known to spread through direct, indirect or close contact with infected people. Saliva and respiratory droplets coming from an infected person may find their way into others’ nose or mouth. To limit the spread of the virus, it’s then important to implement physical distancing and disinfection of high-touch surfaces (e.g. tables, doorknobs, handrails).

Does the HVAC system affect COVID-19 spread

There’s no clear evidence yet about the role of HVAC systems in the spread of COVID-19. It’s difficult to quantify and verify the effect because of the presence of inconsistent data. This inconsistency might have resulted from the variety of scenarios where COVID-19 has spread.

It’s still reasonable though to avoid using recirculated air. The recirculation of air may or may not increase the chances of inhaling respiratory droplets. After all, enclosed areas can make those droplets circulating for a long time inside the workplace or commercial premises. As a result, businesses and government agencies have limited the number of people that can go in. This is also crucial in maintaining physical distancing.

Current evidence doesn’t yet mention how HVAC systems affect the spread. For now, what’s certain is that it helps to ensure physical distancing and maintain good hygiene (for workers, customers and guests). For added peace of mind and an extra layer of protection, it’s reasonable to avoid using recirculated air. It’s a reasonable measure to apply that may probably save lives and help maintain the integrity and morale in the workplace.

It’s crucial to apply all practical and reasonable measures in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Building and facilities managers can take steps to know and mitigate the risks especially when it comes to physical distancing, disinfection and good ventilation. For example, some of those building and facilities managers contact us here at ACG Commercial when it comes to improving ventilation and indoor air quality. We perform a thorough assessment first to know the level of air circulation and the conditions of the HVAC system and ducts. This way, we can apply a tailored and cost-effective approach that will help promote healthy ventilation inside workplaces and buildings.