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On May 29th, HRAI Vice President of Government and Stakeholder Relations Martin Luymes and IPA staff Rob LeForte met with senior policy advisors in the Office of Federal Minister of Health Patti Hajdu to discuss the current state of evidence for the role of HVAC systems in the spread of COVID-19.

The discussion included a quick overview of the federal government’s current assessment of research being conducted into this question.  The current view is that HVAC systems are not a factor in transmission of the virus.  Having said that, alongside numerous other research projects focused on medical questions, the Government of Canada is also funding a study at the University of Alberta that "targets a key mechanism of COVID-19 transmission, that is, transport of the virus through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with subsequent inhalation by other people.”  It is hoped that the findings of this research could provide “evidence-based guidance and policy recommendations” to inform the design/re-design of buildings.

Minister’s staff noted that the government prefers to take guidance from peer-reviewed research and cautioned against research published online as “pre-prints” (not peer reviewed).  Some of these pre-print reports have caused media alarm due to implications about airborne transmission.  As noted in a previous HRAI article, ASHRAE and the IEQ Global Alliance remain non-committal on the matter, awaiting more definitive research findings. HRAI will continue to monitor research in this area and will keep members and stakeholders abreast of any new developments. 

The meeting with Minister Hajdu’s office effectively put HRAI on their radar as a legitimate source of sound industry and technical advice as Ministerial staff committed to maintaining an open dialogue with HRAI.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at mluymes@hrai.ca or call 416-453-5899.