Fact or Myth: Using Air Purifier Prevents the Spread of Coronavirus
As the Coronavirus cases continue to escalate, you might be looking for more ways to protect yourself and your family against this dreaded disease. If you’d been practicing safety measures such as frequent hand washing, social distancing, and disinfecting, that’s great! But are they enough? Are you missing something else?
Like wearing masks and gloves, you might be wondering if an air purifier can stop the spread of the virus. If it can remove microelements in the air, it will surely trap the infectious droplets from COVID-19, right?
We’re sad to spoil the party this early, but the answer is NO. The truth is no air purifier, no matter how sophisticated, can remove Coronavirus 100%. A company that advertises that their product as a solution to COVID-19 is lying. It’s too early to make any claim that an air purifier can halt the pandemic since most of the studies are still in their infancy stage.
However, it doesn’t mean that an air purifier doesn’t help in mitigating risks. It does, but it’s not a substitute for other health protocols being promoted by the government. To put it simply, the use of air purifiers can help mitigate risk, but it does not completely stop the spread of the disease. To have a better understanding of the efficiency of air purifier against COVID-19, look for a supplemental reading that explains how air cleaners work.
How Air Purifier Helps Prevent Coronavirus
Many studies confirm that the majority of cases of Coronavirus happen after person-to-person contact. This means that an infected person passes the virus in close contact (about 5 feet or less) through sneezing or coughing. The droplets can get into the mouths, eyes, or noses of uninfected people nearby.
This only means that cleaning the air in enclosed spaces is as crucial as disinfecting contact surfaces and frequent hand washing. An air purifier’s filtration system effectively traps pathogens and pollutants in the atmosphere. It takes the dirty air in and releases clean air back into the room. This process prevents you from breathing in harmful elements that linger in the air.
If you consider buying an air purifier, choose a model with the following parts:
Many modern brands use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for better efficiency. Theoretically, air purifiers with HEPA filters can capture aerosol droplets containing COVID-19. But then again, there is no scientific basis for this claim as of the moment so let’s not put a lot of emphasis on it.
Most leading brands use HEPA filters either alone or in combination with other filters. It takes dirty air in, filters out the impurities, and releases clean air in the room. To obtain a HEPA rating, the product needs to pass through several rigorous efficiency tests. This test measures the quantity of air that can be purified per minute and the quality of processed air.
The result of the test can be verified through the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which appears just below the HEPA rating. This number will give you an idea of how many cleaning cycles it takes the device to purify the air in your room.
The ideal number of cleaning cycles is five, but if you can find an air purifier that gives seven CADR, that’s a rare gem. However, take note that the higher the CADR, the noisier the device becomes. When choosing an air purifier, consider its performance and the noise level that you can tolerate.
Aside from HEPA filters, some models feature UVC light. The use of UVC light has been practiced for almost 100 years. In fact, it has been used in school ducts to help prevent the spread of measles before the invention of a vaccine.
But because of the over-production and non-standardization in the quality of UVC light, there is no guarantee that the air purifier you’re using has been tested sufficiently.
Many reputable companies still use UVC light together with HEPA filters though. With this combination, the filter can trap the particles, and the ultraviolet light is presumed to kill them. When buying any device with UVC light, make sure that it passes quality-control inspection as continuous exposure to it can be harmful to your health.
An electrostatic precipitator is the latest technology for air purifiers. It is used primarily for cleaning industrial fumes for quite a while, and crossed-over to residential use just recently.
An electrostatic precipitator is a device that uses electrostatic force to trap dust and other particles. It is made up of wires and metal plates where high voltage is applied to create an electrostatic field between them. The electrostatic field charges the air electrically and ionizes them in the process.
When the electric charges are released in the air, it attracts dust and kills mites and other live microorganisms. The clean air then passes through the electrostatic plate, leaving the dirt behind. The result: you only breathe in cleaner air, while the particles have been collected and can be disposed of safely. An air purifier with this technology can effectively be positioned in the kitchen to remove ash particles and smoke.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
By now, it’s apparent how air purifiers decrease the risk of COVID-19. Improving indoor air quality and knowing the importance of fresh, outside air is one way to minimize your risk of catching various diseases.
Aside from a HEPA filter rating, consider a higher MERV rating on the air purifier you want to buy. MERV is the most common air filter rating that you can find below HEPA, which goes from 0 to 16. For home use, an 8 rating in MERV is fair, while 16 is the best. A device with a higher MERV rating is always a better choice.
Aside from using an air purifier, there are other practices that you can do to improve indoor air quality. Open your window at least one hour during the early morning to invite fresh air in. Also, put cleaning on top of your priorities to prevent dust and allergen build-up.
So is using an air purifier to prevent the spread of Coronavirus? The answer is both YES and NO. YES because it helps mitigate the spread of the virus by cleaning indoor air and NO because it’s not a substitute for other health protocols like wearing a facemask and maintaining social distancing. Using it as your only defense will never work, no matter how efficient the device may be.
For these reasons, we can’t recommend a particular brand of air purifier that can miraculously remove all the viruses in the air. As much as some brands show a lot of potential by providing better filtration, the claim that it kills Coronavirus has no factual scientific basis yet. The best thing to do now is to combine the use of air purifiers with the tried-and-tested methods promoted by the government and health experts in fighting the spread of COVID-19.