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Tips for Ventilation in Buildings

Health Canada Video - COVID-19: Ways to improve ventilation and air filtration in your home

Health Canada Poster - Ventilation helps protect against the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies layered with other public health measures such as masking, can help reduce viral particle concentration.

An appropriate ventilation system operation should be configured to meet a room's specific requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; mitigation strategies that work must target building types, behaviours, and environmental factors specific to that space.

Always consult with an HVAC professional regarding any changes to the system and its equipment.

Here are some simple ways to improve your ventilation today:

  • Increase the introduction of outdoor air when weather conditions allows:
    • Reduce or eliminate HVAC air recirculation.
      • Consult an HVAC professional for expert advice.
    • Open windows wherever possible, and ensure windows are properly screened.
      • Do not do this if it poses a safety or health risk (e.g. risk of falling or will trigger asthma symptoms).
  • Use fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows:
    • Avoid placing fans in a way that can force contaminated air to flow directly from one person to another, potentially increasing risk.
    • Direct fan output towards an unoccupied space or towards the outdoors (opened window).
    • Avoid the use of high-speed settings.
  • Improve ventilation system filtration:
    • Ensure filters are properly sized and are changed per the system recommendations.
    • Use the highest efficiency particulate filter that the forced air system is capable of handling, without impeding airflows.
    • Always follow the manufacturer's operations manual or consult an HVAC professional regarding the systems maintenance and its associated equipment.
  • Ensure optimal humidity levels:
    • Maintain an optimal indoor humidity level, between 30% and 50%.
      • Lower humidity levels can cause aerosol sizes to shrink, resulting in the aerosols staying suspended in the air for longer.
      • Higher humidity levels can cause condensation on surfaces, which can lead to mould growth.
  • The use of portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifier:
    • Currently, Health Canada indicates that there is no direct evidence to support that portable HEPA air purifiers are effective in reducing COVID-19 transmission in closed spaces. As such, they should only be used as an additional method for enhancing natural or mechanical ventilation.
    • Portable air cleaners should run continuously and be positioned so that they do not obstruct airflow. Like fans, do not place air purifiers in a manner that will direct their output at the occupants in the space, or in a manner where they are obstructed by furniture or walls.
    • Ensure the use of high quality HEPA portable air purifiers, which are certified by a recognized body such as the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
    • Ensure the portable HEPA unit Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is high enough for the room size it's located in.
    • Portable air purifiers should not be seen as a replacement for adequate ventilation, physical distancing and hygienic measures. They may be considered as an additional measure in situations where increasing natural or mechanical ventilation is not an option

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