Air filtration and COVID-19: Air quality expert explains how to keep you safe

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SCOTIA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Andrew Cuomo said malls and gyms in New York can’t reopen until the state’s health department develops more research on air filtration systems.

NEWS10’s Spencer Tracy got an inside look at how HVAC systems work and how they can circulate air flow.

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The system provides heating and cooling to residential and commercial buildings.

“Even before the pandemic or not, you should always try to clean the air. Indoor air quality is very important,” said Justin Wright, Service Manager of Roland J. Down.

Wright said every time a person walks into a room they can carry pollutants with them. He said having an HVAC system in a room or business can help filter what’s in the air.  

“Typically, we take the air that is in the home and we send it through a system,” said Wright.

Gov. Cuomo said malls will need high efficiency air filters installed before they will be allowed to reopen.

“For many of these systems it depends on what filter you can install. The one we have seen is the MERV filter, but they are different filters that filter out different size particles,” explained Cuomo.

Experts said there are different types of filters such a High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA. HEPA is a filter that can trap 99.97 percent of particles. The filters consist of interlaced glass fibers.

Wright said the MERV filter is the most efficient. MERV stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV value is the more efficient the filter will be in trapping airborne particles.

“We accompany a MERV 16 filter with ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light will deactivate most of the virus, and it can filter out all of the particles,” said Wright.

He said another important tip to is to make sure you are changing the filters in your homes and businesses. The filter in your home should typically be changed every 30 to 90 days. A bigger filter, such as in a business, can be changed every six to 12 months.

Wright said doing more research on air filtration systems can improve air safety for everyone.

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