Covid-19 Transmission Through Air Conditioning: “Turn Off Your Aircon,” Health Experts in Singapore Say

July 22, 2020
“Turn off your aircon,” health experts in Singapore say, to prevent Covid-19 transmission through air conditioning.

Following the outbreak of coronavirus in Singapore, netizens took to social media raising concerns over the transmission of virus by air. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore, there is no evidence to validate the virus is airborne. However, an air quality expert and professor at Purdue University, Qingyan Chen claimed cruise ships AC systems could promote rapid coronavirus spread. Consequentially, doubts over the role of home and office air conditioning in transmission of the virus cropped up on social media. Heated discussions are taking place about Covid-19 transmission through air conditioning.

Does air conditioning spread coronavirus?

According to Qingyan Chen, cruise ship air conditioners can’t filter out particles smaller than 5,000 nanometres. He says if the coronavirus (COVID-19)  is as small as the SARS, which is 120 nanometres, it could circulate through the system.

Home and office air conditioners, though, are capable of filtering even smaller particles than the size of Covid-19. All popular brands of air conditioners in Singapore use antibacterial and antiviral filters. These filters have antiseptic properties remove bacteria, viruses, pollutants, and other contaminants that cause flu and infections. Thus chances of Covid-19 transmission through air conditioning in households is minimal. If you’re planning to buy a new air conditioner, we will help you find the most suitable one from some of the best aircon brands in Singapore. Simply drop us a message!

How else can we reduce infection risk?

It is common knowledge that viruses thrive better in cool, dry climates. Singapore, being generally hot and humid - over 30 deg C - is less conducive for them. However, frequent air conditioning indoors will alter the temperature possibly allowing viruses to persist for a longer period.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, programme leader of infectious diseases at National University of Singapore opines in the Straits Times that "air-conditioning is something that can't be helped in Singapore, especially during the hot months. But enclosed spaces, where it is less humid and cooler, could help to spread respiratory diseases."

Health experts therefore advise to switch-off your air conditioners, turn on the fan, open your windows and let fresh air circulate in your home and office to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

Do you have to clean your air conditioner?

According to the American Lung Association senior medical adviser, Dr Al Rizo, if air conditioners are kept clean and in order, it could help people with respiratory ailments like asthma by promoting better air circulation indoors.

“If you have a badly maintained air conditioning system, it can be contaminated by microorganisms harmful to health if inhaled,” said Mark Mendell, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Internal Environment Group while speaking to TIME magazine.

The antibacterial and antiviral filters installed in the air conditioners need regular cleaning, at least once every three months. Clogged and dirty filters result in poor air flow and spread of contaminants and airborne allergens. Bacteria and viruses thus circulate through your air conditioner. Sendhelper aircon services offer contract maintenance and chemical cleaning at affordable rates.

The Berkeley Lab found that dust mites thrive in warm and humid conditions similar to Singapore. Not only are they found in rooms, mattresses and cupboards, but also in poorly maintained air conditioners. Dust mites are common carriers of allergens that contribute to allergic and asthmatic conditions. So are mould and mildew that flourish in damp corners of air conditioners.

As mentioned before, air conditioning can’t be helped in Singapore especially during the hot months. As we reduce the use of air conditioners, we must also maintain them well to eliminate the risk of infection.

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