COVID-19 transmission: Using AC at home? Role of humidity neutralising infectivitiy of coronavirus

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Published: May 4, 2020 6:02:13 PM

Are you using AC at home and worrying about whether it is safe to use in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic?

Air conditioners can be used and should maintain a temperature between 24°C and 30°C.

Coronavirus in hot/humid areas: Are you using AC at home and worrying about whether it is safe to use in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic? Increase in temperature and humidity is said to impact the Coronavirus transmission and one aspect to deliberate on this is how relative humidity can help. According to a report by the IE, relative humidity is likely to affect the infectivity of the coronavirus. It said that moisture present in the air is responsible for providing protection against respiratory infection. It explained that moist surfaces with mucous layers in the upper respiratory tract help collect larger particles prior to their entry in trachea and pharynx whereas the bronchi and alveoli collect small particles in the lower respiratory tract.

What exactly happens is, when a person inhales some dry air, the mucous membrane within the respiratory tract becomes dry, the fluid present over the lining of the cells becomes more viscous. Apart from this, the little hair- cilia which protect the lungs from deep settling of particles, become dysfunctional and ultimately lead to the lungs having particles that are deeply settled. Therefore, humidity in the air helps to protect these functions. According to the report, the most ideal range for humidity levels range between 40 per cent and -70 per cent so that the respiratory system can fight pathogens. A report by Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) also said in a research note that around 80 per cent relative humidity can help neutralise the COVID-19 virus.

ISHRAE’s guidelines indicated that in dry climates, relative humidity should be maintained above 40 per cent and not below than that. For this, the study also recommended using a pan filled with water (for evaporation) in cases when humidity is likely to fall below 40 per cent.

Apart from this, the study has also suggested that air conditioners/ coolers and fans used should have intake of air from outdoors. This can be achieved by using exhausts or by slightly opening the windows.

Meanwhile, busting the myth of not using Air Conditioners at all, ISHRAE said the air conditioners can be used and should maintain a temperature between 24°C and 30°C. The air conditioners are a source of concern in building where there is central air conditioning

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