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Studies Reveal New Science about Indoor Air Quality and COVID

November 4, 2021

Back in March of 2020, no one was expecting the pandemic to last several months… or many years. But for over a year, Los Angeles has been battling the spread of COVID-19. Since the early months of the pandemic, we have learned a lot about how the virus spreads. Namely, we now know it spreads via aerosol droplets. When it comes to indoor spaces, optimizing the Indoor Air Quality or IAQ can do a lot to prevent the spread of the illness. We have been reading up recently-published research on the topic; our summary is below. 

Improve IAQ With Many Methods – Not Just One.

Research indicates that the buildings with the highest indoor air quality employ many techniques rather than just one or two. 

One method familiar to many LA residents is by each person taking their own safety measures. For example, social distancing, limiting large group events, and wearing face masks are all helpful in reducing virus spread. But a challenge with solely using this approach is that it relies on individual decision making. 

To promote great indoor air quality no matter what individuals decide, we can add what researchers call “engineering controls” – things that any individual person cannot change. Some examples might be adding ventilation, high-efficiency filters, and air purifiers. 

These recommendations are also reflected in the core recommendations from ASHRAE

  • Ventilation –  dilute the “dirty” air inside with fresh air from outside
  • Filtration – replace filters with high-quality air filters
  • Air Purification – air cleaners can help remove viruses and other pollutants from indoor air

Preventing Spread of COVID in Los Angeles Homes

So much of the COVID and IAQ research is focused on facilities where many people from different households will be interacting with one another. So, should we do anything about our homes? 

ASHRAE’s task force issued these recommendations for residential homes: 

  • Maintain normal temperature and humidity. Make sure your HVAC system is keeping things between 68-78F and 40-60% relative humidity (RH). It’s common in SoCal to shut off your HVAC system to save energy during mild temperatures. But when it comes to IAQ, that can do more harm than good. Keep things comfortable! 
  • Turn on those ceiling fans. The engineers at ASHRAE report that stagnant air should be avoided. So if you’ve got fans, now is the time to use them! And outside of the IAQ benefits, there are more good reasons to use fans! They are a great way to reduce your energy consumption
  • Upgrade your air filter if possible. For filter efficiency ratings, the higher, the better. But before you find the highest MERV on the market, keep in mind that more filtration means there is more resistance on your HVAC system. When there isn’t enough airflow, you can expect to see higher energy bills, reduced performance, and even iced coils. So if you want to level up your filter game, give us a call for a custom recommendation on how high of a MERV filter your system can tolerate. 
  • Air cleaners can remove pollutants. If an ultra-high efficiency filter doesn’t make sense for your home comfort system an air purifier should be your next choice. Modern whole home air purifiers are proven to improve IAQ by removing viruses, bacteria, and other particulates. A portable air cleaner, like the kind you plug into the wall, will filter air in a single room or area. A whole-home air purifier will clean all the air in your house. 
  • Maintain your HVAC system.  Getting regular maintenance on your heating and cooling system is an important part of keeping your family healthy. It all goes back to our first bullet – thermal comfort is the most important item in this list. Tuneups are essential to ensuring your HVAC systems are functioning, as long as you take care of necessary repairs.  

Indoor Air Quality Services in Los Angeles

Here at Brody Pennell, we prioritize education and learning for our entire team. That means we take the time to be informed about the latest research in our industry. When we combine this knowledge with our many years of IAQ experience in Los Angeles, you’ll get a trusted expert on your side. Contact our team today for help improving your indoor air quality!

About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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