Updated: May 19, 2020
As part of the Return to Work process, we have updated our “Preventive Control Hierarchy” Diagram. It is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Please download at our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page.
We also have a new poster/graphic depicting “A Day in the Life”. Please find the graphic downloadable at our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page.
the Food Industry
Airflow Impact on COVID-19: A Complex Situation.
As businesses bring back workers from COVID-19 sheltering-in-place, many are seeking additional ways of protecting their employees. TAG has been regularly receiving questions regarding ventilation and airflow impacts and controls, particularly in light of CDC guidelines to increase ventilation rates and increase the percentage of outdoor air that is brought into buildings.
There continues to be no clear evidence of COVID-19 spread through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. In principle, increasing ventilation and filtration can reduce the risk of airborne transmission of infectious agents, but if you’re looking at doing that, TAG advises consulting with an HVAC expert to understand airflow in your facility and your particular air-handling system configuration and capabilities because there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Optimization of HVAC systems is complex and specific to the exact conditions of your facility. If not properly managed, changes to the HVAC system can result in other challenges that can impact the comfort and even safety of a building’s occupants. While the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published some comprehensive resources, you will need to be an HVAC engineer to follow them. Additionally, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) in England has also published guidance and recommendations, but these guidelines are not very prescriptive.
Because TAG, itself, does not have expertise in this area, we consulted with a University of Minnesota School of Public Health expert, who confirmed that while optimizing airflow, incorporating more outdoor air, seeking maximum feasible filter efficiency, and trying to avoid air movement between zones are sound recommendations, these are not always easy to achieve. You have to be careful about impacts on pressure relationships in facilities, and experimenting with increased air movement without regard to airflow patterns (e.g., with fans) could actually cause the situation to worsen, as droplets from an infected person could be carried across the room and land on others before they are picked up by the HVAC system.
Based on the above, TAG’s advice is to consult an HVAC engineer or industrial hygiene specialist for recommendations on your facility.
As of May 19, 2020 (12:43 ET), there are over 4,836,000 cases (>319,000 deaths) worldwide.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focus on the United States, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
Keep up to date with COVID-19:
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