The Big Question: Can Airborne Viruses Travel Through Ducts?

With indoor air quality and the transmission of viruses a top concern these days, we thought we’d help answer a question we’ve been getting a lot lately: Can the flow of air produced by an HVAC system spread disease?

Let’s dive into what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has to say.

A Case Study

During a three-week period in early 2020, the coronavirus disease affected 10 people who had eaten at an air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China. The CDC concluded that airflow was a key factor for infection.

The outbreak began when one infected person sat at a table with nine friends, of which about half became infected. However, the disease spread further with the aid of airflow from the restaurant’s HVAC system. The CDC notes that airflow from the vents moved left to right, exposing diners seated downstream. About 75% of that group became infected, as well. Everyone seated at tables situated out of the main flow of air produced by the HVAC system remained safe.

Whether or not the coronavirus actually circulated through the restaurant’s HVAC system -- passing through the filter and ducts -- or if it simply traveled on a short current of air is unknown. However, the case does prove that airflow is a major factor in the spread of disease.

How a Qualified HVAC Contractor Can Help

Commercial property developers should consult with a reputable HVAC technician to keep occupants healthy by improving airflow and installing air purification technology to eradicate certain biological contaminants.

Homeowners can invest in air purification systems, as well. A whole-home air scrubber uses a UV light to destroy bacteria, pollen, and other allergens before they reach your return vents. While an air scrubber hasn’t yet proven effective against the coronavirus specifically, it can eliminate up to 90% of airborne contaminants. Reducing allergens will prevent sneezing, which is one way COVID-19 spreads.

Whether you’re a commercial property owner who’d like to make your building’s occupants safer or a homeowner interested in air cleaning technology, Lex Air Conditioning and Heating is happy to discuss your indoor air quality needs. To schedule your appointment, call (972) 217-8955.