January 23, 2021


First-hand with Information

Experts: Turn off air conditioners to reduce spread of COVID-19

Food Security Cluster

Air conditioning units should be turned off as they could recirculate same air in a room and promote the spread of COVID-19, reports by engineering experts have shown.

Air conditioners are broadly categorised into two types – ones that take in air from the outside and expel it and the ‘split units’, which recirculate the same air, Shaun Fitzgerald, a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, told The Telegraph.

A document by the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers also noted that air conditioning units that do not have a “dedicated source of outside air supply into a room… could be responsible for recirculating and spreading airborne viral particles into the path of socially distanced users”.

Fitzgerald added that opening a window while having the air conditioning turned on may be the best way to reduce the risk.

“The recommended strategy now, if you have one of these split units, is to throw the window open and sacrifice your desire for a cold or cooler environment,” he said.

“If there is a modicum of wind, it will move the air around. If you can’t open a window, turn the unit off.”

Also, in June, Qingyan Chen, a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University, had cited what happened on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 700 out of 3,000 passengers got sick.

“After quarantine, many people still got sick on the ship and I suspect that the air conditioning system could [have] played a role there,” Chen told Business Insider.

“Air conditioners will take air and re-circulate it through the room, and it’s through that mechanism that these coronavirus droplets can be transmitted.”

A major study that raised concerns about air-conditioning in the wake of the pandemic was published on April 2 about a restaurant in China.