It is an undeniable fact that people cannot do without Air conditioners in this scorching heat. While it looks like a normal thing, during this coronavirus pandemic, everything is now seen with suspicion. Some scientists believe that there is some evidence suggesting that air conditioners spread the coronavirus.
In 2019 the US residents purchased 5.4 million air conditioners to prepare for the summer. A year on, a blistering hot summer is predicted by the forecasters and some experts believe using the Air conditioner too much will not be a good idea.
Dr. Qingyan Chen, who is a professor of mechanical engineering and is active in the field of building science said that air conditioners take air and re-circulate it in the room, and because of that people inhale what others exhale and through this mechanism, coronavirus is transmitted. Chen used Diamond Princess Cruise Ship as evidence in which 700 out of 3000 passengers got infected.
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Edward Nardell, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that when the temperature is extremely high, the air conditioner adjusts the amount of fresh air it pulls in from outside to save energy so the air recirculates which means that the majority of air people are breathing in is being exhaled by others, so if someone is infected the others will be too.
Nardell further added that the states in which there is a lot of air conditioning use due to high weather are also the ones where there is an increase in the spread of coronavirus. Though covid19 mainly transmits through large droplets, there is some evidence suggesting airborne transmission of the virus.
Chinese scientists published a report about a restaurant in China where 10 diners were infected with coronavirus and they were all sitting on the same side. As the tables were placed at a distance of 3 feet so there is little possibility of the virus being transmitted through larger droplets, so they think that strong airflow from the air conditioner could be the source of the spread.
In another study, scientists collected samples from three different heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units (HVAC) at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland. They checked if the samples contain genetic material from the covid19, and 1 out of 4 were found to be positive.
University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted a similar study. They found genetic material from the coronavirus present in the air samples gathered from the room of covid19 patients, some of the samples were collected from even more than six feet away.
So, what steps can people take to prevent the spread of coronavirus in their homes? According to Shelly Miller, a professor at the University of Colorado, the easiest thing people can do is to bring natural air from the outdoors by opening windows and doors to let fresh air pass. The other steps according to miller are to install UV sterilizer boxes or air cleaners.
It is pretty evident that there is some truth in the suggestion that air conditioners spread the coronavirus, but experts are still divided on whether the virus is airborne or not. People can only protect themselves by wearing masks when they are exposed to HVAC units outside of their house.