Recent developments in vaccines for COVID-19 and accelerated distribution have revealed something of a light at the end of the tunnel. However, it will still take time to fully move on from this pandemic. Even if we do approach what experts call “herd immunity,” some individuals will still be susceptible to contracting and/or transmitting the virus. As such, your office reopening strategy must include efforts to ensure the ongoing health and safety of your employees, guests, and customers. Performing regular surface cleaning and disinfection should play a role here, but no COVID-19 defense plan is complete without proper air filtration. More specifically, experts recommend that facilities use air filters with MERV ratings of at least 13 to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread. Here’s why.
The Importance of Air Filtration for COVID-19
First, let’s review why air filtration is a key component of combatting COVID-19 in any facility. Over the course of this pandemic, researchers have discovered that COVID-19 primarily spreads via airborne and aerosolized (i.e. hanging in the air) particles, as well as respiratory droplets. In other words, the virus most easily spreads from one person to the next in enclosed environments with minimal air circulation and/or filtration. The more you can do to keep your air clean and flowing, the more you can prevent droplets and particles carrying this virus from making the rounds inside your office. Air filtration and air disinfection for coronavirus (i.e. electrostatic spraying) make up the two main ways to keep your air COVID-19-free.
The Meaning of “MERV”
Before we can articulate why MERV 13 (or higher) is the standard for COVID-19 air filtration, we must explain what MERV stands for. “MERV” is the acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a rating from 1 to 16 that is used by air filter manufacturers to gauge a filter’s efficiency for capturing particles of smaller and smaller sizes. The lower a filter’s MERV rating, the less adept it is at apprehending particles in the air between 0.3 and 10 microns in diameter. Conversely, a higher MERV rating means a filter can remove a greater number of smaller particles on average.
Why MERV 13 Is the Minimum Requirement
As we mentioned above, MERV ratings go from 1 to 16, which means a MERV 13 rating ranks high on the efficiency spectrum. Still, you might wonder why MERV 13 serves as the minimum requirement for office air filtration during COVID-19. Filters with ratings of MERV 13 or higher are 50-95% efficient at removing particles between the 0.3-1.0 micron ranges -- filters with ratings of MERV 12 or lower are not as effective, and those with a MERV 10 or lower rating have zero effect on particles in this range (0.3.-1.0 microns). Considering that the virus which causes COVID-19 can range in size from 0.12-0.16 microns but can travel on particles within the 0.3-10 micron range (typically 1-4 microns), having the most efficient air filter possible for a wider range of particle sizes is key to keeping your facility’s indoor air safe and sanitary. This is the primary reason why air filters with MERV 13+ ratings are key COVID-19 supplies for virtually any facility.
We’ve filtered out the more technical aspects of MERV ratings and what they mean to provide a clear and concise picture of why these ratings matter and how they can mitigate COVID-19 transmission in your facility. If you’d like more detailed information regarding air filtration for COVID-19, The Budd Group is happy to fill you in. To learn more about our disinfection services, HVAC offerings, and other specialties, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!
For more information regarding ventilation for COVID-19 from the CDC, click here.