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ASHRAE Addresses Infectious Disease Transmission
September 8, 2009

As health and school officials deal with a second wave of the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as swine flu, new information is available on health consequences of exposure to such airborne infectious diseases and the implications on the design, installation and operation of HVAC&R systems.

ASHRAE’s Airborne Infectious Diseases Position Document addresses the impact of ventilation on disease transmission, the disease for which ventilation is important for either transmission or control and the control strategies that are available for implementation in buildings. The paper can be read on the ASHRAE website.

Since the first reported case in the spring of 2009, the H1N1 virus has spread to nearly 170 countries, resulting in 1,154 deaths and some 160,000 illnesses. With a better understanding of ventilation’s effect on the transmission of disease, future incidents of the H1N1 virus may now be easier to prevent, according to Gordon Holness, president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) that developed the guidance. He said several technical solutions are available to assist in avoiding transmission. These include: dilution ventilation, airflow strategies, room pressurization, personalized ventilation, source control, filtration and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.

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