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While it would be nice to have a vaccine for COVID-19 tomorrow, the reality is that it will likely be a while before such a treatment is available, and our best bet in the fight against the coronavirus remains taking the strongest measures possible to keep our environments clean, and limiting our chance of exposure to the virus.

Restaurants, bars, music venues, movie theaters and other indoor businesses that deal with high volumes of customers will be fighting a similar fight, working on solutions to keep their buildings, and the air within them, as clean as possible. One of the best ways to fight the airborne spread of COVID-19 in crowded spaces is through the use of an air purification system. First Choice Heating & Cooling has already installed REME HALOS for townships, nursing homes, warehouses and dialysis centers.

Can COVID-19 be spread through the air?

This topic has been fiercely studied and debated since the pandemic broke out. The World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health institutes have stated over the past few months that the virus is primarily spread through droplets released into the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. The prevailing theory has been that the heavy droplets that carry the virus do not linger in the air long, instead settling on surfaces. While this may be true, there is mounting evidence that airborne transmission may have been previously underestimated, and that the virus can actually spread through the air, in much smaller particles that can float around for hours after people talk or breathe out.

This was the assertion of a recent open letter from over 200 scientists from 32 countries whose research suggests that the WHO has underestimated this type of transmission. This week, the WHO acknowledged there was evidence suggesting airborne transmission was possible in “specific settings,” like enclosed and crowded spaces. This evidence will continue to be evaluated, but if this evidence is confirmed, it could have huge implications for bars, restaurants and other indoor businesses.

What can be done to minimize airborne transmission of the coronavirus?

One of the best steps to prevent the release and circulation of droplets containing coronavirus particles into the air, on a personal level, is to wear a mask whenever in public. On a larger, business-environment level, the efficient purification of air via an air filtration system may be the best solution currently available because of the way these systems remove harmful pathogens and other particles from the air.

Can an Air Filtration system remove virus-infected particles from the air?

The short answer is yes. While air filtration systems should not be viewed as a primary line of defense, they are proven to remove a significant percentage of particles in the air that may carry the coronavirus. More specifically: a ventilation system equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air – HEPA – rated filter is known to capture 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns and above. HEPA filters also remove a percentage of smaller particles from the air, yet the extent of their removal is not precisely known and will vary by room, filter quality, HVAC system and other factors.

COVID-19 particles are about 0.125 microns in diameter. While a properly functioning ventilation system will not remove all particles potentially carrying the virus, it can reduce the number of particles present and certainly improve overall air quality, a step toward a healthier environment in any case.

Considering the new studies cited above, and the likelihood that the coronavirus can travel in smaller particles than previously thought, it’s best to view an air filtration system as a tool to remove some of the possibly-infected particles from the air, but not as a solution that completely eliminates airborne transmission. For restaurants, bars and venues, however, it is definitely a solid first step in figuring out how to safely do business in our new reality. The better a restaurant, bar, or music venue’s air is circulated and filtered, and the better their patrons adhere to mask guidelines, the lower the overall risk of transmission between staff, customers and others in the building becomes.

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