SEOUL, May 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Experts argue that the proper use of air conditioners in the summer is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus is transmitted through droplets, which can travel further if carried by the air current generated by air conditioners.
Air conditioners are typically used with windows closed, which may keep contaminants indoors for a long period of time.
As health authorities are discussing policy measures on the use of air conditioners and other indoor quarantine instructions for the summer, experts emphasize the importance of ventilation even when using air conditioning.
While there isn’t enough research or studies to base their claims on, many experts believe that droplets, capable of being suspended midair for at least two or three hours, can travel lengthy distances if air conditioners carry them away with their air currents.
They say that ventilation is crucial to drive these droplets away in order to reduce the chance of spreading the coronavirus.
“We believe that the use of air conditioning is okay if ventilation, such as open windows, is done simultaneously,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Strong air currents can carry the droplets further, so it is crucial to properly adjust the strength of the fan, while leaving windows slightly open.
“There are no answers, but the principle here is that air conditioning and ventilation should be done simultaneously,” said Prof. Ki Mo-ran from the National Cancer Center who leads the Korean Society for Preventive Medicine’s COVID-19 task force.
“Turn down the air conditioner, and leave the windows open on one side of the wall so that the wind doesn’t blow from all directions.”
On top of air conditioners, the wind from electric fans and air purifiers can also spread the droplets.
A research team led by Prof. Ham Seung-Heon from Gachon University Gil Hospital once published a study that proves how droplets originating near air purifiers can spread throughout an entire indoor space through ascending air currents.
The use of coolers, as well as dehumidifiers, can raise the risk of spreading the virus by drying up the air. The coronavirus reproduces faster when the mucous membrane inside the human body is dry.
“The reason that respiratory diseases spread in winter is because the air is drier,” said Prof. Yeom Ho-ki from Inje University College of Medicine.
“Coolers and dehumidifiers can freshen up the atmosphere during summer heat or the monsoon season, but they also make the mucous membrane in the respiratory system go dry, allowing the coronavirus to settle in and reproduce much faster.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)