Elevator Air Circulation

March 2021

Pandemic restrictions on elevator use may have been misguided.

A Purdue University study suggests that short elevator rides offer lower risk of coronavirus transmission than outdoor dining and are comparable to grocery shopping.  The three-month study investigated riskiness of elevators in regard to COVID-19 exposure.  Travelling on public transit and working in an office or factory were identified as presenting greater risk.

The study examined how airflow in elevators impact on exposure to coronavirus during a two-minute elevator ride.

High-rise communities have instituted elevator access restrictions on the premise that each cab is a closed box without air circulation thus making the space riskier for coronavirus transmission.  Elevators, by design, offer a high degree of air ventilation compared to most indoor spaces.  Many include fans to further increase ventilation.

The elevator cab is not a “closed box” lacking ventilation.  It is designed to facilitate ventilation and comply with building codes.  This makes the risk of coronavirus infection less than when visiting a restaurant.  Maintaining this level of safety requires that elevator systems are properly maintained through preventative maintenance and repairs to damaged systems.

The study was commissioned by Otis Worldwide, a manufacturer of elevator systems.