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Previously, companies were focused on improving cleaning practices to avoid spreading the virus on surfaces, but some researchers have found that the coronavirus can also spread through poor ventilation systems.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Honeywell International Inc., Carrier Global Corp. and Trane Technologies Plc are some of the companies that are seeing increased demand as property managers upgrade their HVAC systems so that their buildings will be able to reopen.
“We’re seeing a very huge demand,” Manish Sharma, Honeywell’s chief technology officer for the company’s building technologies unit told Bloomberg. “Everyone wants to see how you can get back to business.”
|HON||HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.||159.43||+4.32||+2.79%|
|TT||TRANE TECHNOLOGIES PLC||118.85||+2.00||+1.71%|
Researchers at the University of Oregon published a study earlier this year that found the coronavirus in 25 percent of the HVAC systems in hospitals that treated coronavirus patients, which showed the possibility that the virus could be spread “from shared air” in different places from the person with the virus, according to Bloomberg.
Another study from April found that families in China may have contracted the coronavirus from a restaurant after the disease was spread through the air conditioning, Fox News reported at the time.
However, a Harvard professor who studies airborne transmission told Bloomberg that the coronavirus is likely to be “diluted and decayed” by the time it reaches an air duct.
Instead, Professor Edward Nardell said good air circulation is important to make sure the virus doesn’t remain in a room, according to Bloomberg.
Some of the technologies available for improved HVAC systems include microbe-blocking filters and systems that kill the coronavirus using “ultraviolet light or electrically charged particles,” Bloomberg reported.
According to the magazine, UV light air purifiers have been around for several years, but have previously been marketed to hospitals, but that has changed because of the coronavirus.
Making improvements to HVAC systems can be complicated and can use more energy, according to Bloomberg.
For example, letting in fresh air is good, but it strains cooling or heating systems and stronger filters can trap more microbes, but can also decrease ventilation if the fans aren’t strong enough in the building, Bloomberg reported.
However, buildings will be improving their systems before businesses return to their offices, according to the head of the New York chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association.
“Every building is going to have some kind of solution. Is it going to be 100 percent? No,” Hani Salama told Bloomberg. “But it’s going to be better than what they have now, and will help mitigate some of these airborne transmission issues that everybody is afraid of.”