As the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a massive health threat, many people are exhausting all means to fight the virus. The majority are wearing masks, refraining from crowded places, washing their hands like never before, and investing in air purifiers for their homes. But the question is this: do air purifiers help with coronavirus?
In this post, I delved into this question together with added tips to keep you and your family safe against the virus.
Do air purifiers help with coronavirus?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air cleaners and purifiers can help reduce contaminants in the air. Such contaminants include viruses like COVID-19.
HOWEVER, air purifiers aren’t the sole solution or protection against infection. Also, it has to be used properly to ensure that the appliance isn’t defeating its purpose of cleaning the air.
To further understand if air purifiers will help this situation, let’s talk about coronavirus transmission first.
One of the ways the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted is through aerosol particles. Such aerosol particles can come from someone coughing, sneezing, or simply talking. As the bodily fluids of an infected person go airborne, it then becomes free for anyone to inhale.
The scary part about this COVID-19 transmission is that the aerosolized fluids or fine droplets can linger in the air for hours. It can happen in stagnant areas like an enclosed room like your home. The infection becomes higher if you’re using an air conditioner since other forms of ventilation are sealed.
In this case, an air purifier can help, but here are some of the key points to keep in mind:
HEPA filters can help
HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters can help in trapping COVID-infected droplets in the air. However, it’s not really made for such a purpose as it’s better off pulling out solid airborne particulates like dust or pollens.
An average cough produces droplets that are around 300 to 450 microns in size. This is massive compared to the ability of True HEPA filters to sieve particles as small as 0.3 microns. Medical-grade types can even filter even better down to 0.1 microns.
In this situation, HEPA filters work in trapping droplets with the COVID-19 virus. However, proper handling of the filters should be observed to prevent the contamination of other surfaces.
Also, you should clean and dispose of used filters responsibly. It’s always best to disinfect the used filters first before throwing them into the bin.
UV light can destroy viruses.
Meanwhile, air purifiers with UV-C light features can also help neutralize the infectious COVID-19 virus. It’s widely used in the medical world to disinfect surfaces without the use of chemicals. Aside from that, UV-C is also effective in killing mold spores and bacteria floating in the air.
However, proper caution should be observed when using UV-C light. While UV-C is effective in destroying the virus, it doesn’t erase the fact that such radiation is still carcinogenic to humans.
Not all air purifiers work for viruses.
It’s important to remember that not all air purifiers can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections. You have to be very meticulous about the unit you’re going to buy to ensure that it will be beneficial for your home.
Always check the rating to ensure that the air purifier is tested to destroy viruses and bacteria in the air. If not, the unit is just a typical air filter. It’s still helpful, but not for the purpose of eliminating COVID-19 droplets in your home.
Beware of ozone!
In the past years, manufacturers tried to hide ozone in their air purifier products. They mask it in different names like ‘activated oxygen’.
Technically, ozone is truly effective in destroying bacteria and viruses. It works by attaching to a particulate then altering the standard structure of oxygen. So instead of just two atoms, the oxygen will be converted to three atoms. This is why ozone is chemically known as ‘O3’.
Once the oxygen has been altered, the bacteria or viruses clinging to it will be destroyed. It happens as the altered oxygen damages the pathogens’ cell wall.
However, there’s a catch on all these benefits: ozone is dangerous to human health. Exposure to ozone can lead to respiratory issues. Prolonged and regular exposure to ozone can even cause lung damage.
Instead of using ozone-producing air purifiers, you should consider modern alternatives. Right now, newer air purifier models use PlasmaWave technology.
PlasmaWave works by releasing an electrical discharge that will take out the hydrogen in the air structure. This will help kill airborne pathogens.
Take note that PlasmaWave still produces traces of ozone. Still, the amount is too little to cause serious health problems even to those suffering from respiratory conditions like asthma.
Best air purifiers to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection
If you’re looking for air purifiers that can kill viruses and bacteria, the following are some of the good choices:
Molekule Air Pro Purifier with PECO Technology
The Molekule Air Pro Purifier with PECO Technology is effective against viruses, bacteria, allergens, and molds. It destroys the pathogens to prevent inhalation and infection. In addition, it’s designed to filter the air to rooms as large as 1,000 sq. ft. For such a small footprint, Molekule is way more powerful than bigger air purifiers in the market.
Moreover, this has a particle sensor that will detect air pollution. Such a sensor will not detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus, though, but the purifier remains effective in neutralizing infections.
Overall, this air purifier has a quiet operation with auto mode to adjust the fan speed based on the pollution level.
Honeywell HPA300 Air Purifier
Another air purifier that can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection is the Honeywell HPA300. It’s made for up to 465 sq. ft. and can filter out particulates as small as 0.3 microns. This air purifier is also effective in reducing bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.
A 5-year warranty backs this air purifier to protect your purchase. It uses a pre-filter and HEPA filter to trap airborne allergens and pathogens in your home.
Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier
The Blueair Blue Pure 411 is also effective in reducing viruses and bacteria in your home. It’s an AHAM Verified appliance that uses a HEPASilent Technology and carbon filter to trap 99.97% of all airborne particles. This is a medical-grade purifier that can filter out particles as small as 0.1 microns.
Overall, this has a quiet operation, a LED air quality indicator, a 360-degree air intake, and an auto mode setting. It’s an intuitive, compact, and effective air purifier at a very reasonable price. The bonus part is the aesthetic fabric pre-filter that you can get in different colors.
Added tips to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission
- Wear a mask. While it’s still surprising that there are people opposed to wearing a mask, putting one over your nose and mouth can be life-saving. Remember, you’re not just wearing a mask for yourself, but also the people around you.
- Wash your hands! I know that you’ve heard this a million times already, but washing your hands can save you from the life-threatening COVID infection. Air purifiers can only filter droplets in the air, but not the virus on your hands. Besides, it only takes 20 seconds to kill the virus using soap and water.
- Isolate when you’re coughing or sneezing. If you feel that a cough or runny nose is coming, it’s best to isolate yourself until you’re sure that it’s not COVID-19. This is for the safety of your family, regardless if you’re wearing a big-ass air purifier around your neck.
- Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette. If your throat or nose suddenly felt ticklish, cough into your elbow if a covering isn’t handy. This will prevent your saliva droplets from going airborne.
- Disinfect your phone. We hold our phones all the time without knowing that it can also harbor pathogens. You can’t see germs with the naked eye, so it’s important to give your phone a good wipe using 70% rubbing alcohol. Others use UV-C disinfectant devices.
- Keep distance. It may feel like the pandemic is going on forever, but staying 6 feet away from people will greatly reduce the risk of transmission.
- Get vaccinated! One of the foolproof ways to prevent the deadly repercussions of COVID-19 is getting your jab. Minor side effects are normal, but these are small sacrifices compared to the protection you will enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is an air purifier necklace effective for COVID?
A: Experts are mostly divided when it comes to the efficacy of air purifier necklaces. While it can help filter out pollutants like dust and pollens, the small devices don’t have enough filtering power to destroy pathogens. In the end, these air purifier necklaces aren’t substitutes for face masks and hand washing.
Q: Does ionized air kill COVID-19 virus?
A: Ionizers work by releasing negatively charged ions in the air. When the aerosolized droplets meet the charge, they will bond to the surface, where they will land. As the air purifier sucks in air, it will also collect the charged droplet. The negative charge will keep the droplet bonded to the surface, preventing it from recirculating.
Q: How long does the COVID virus survive in a home setting?
A: There’s no specific timeline on how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces. It can be within a few minutes to several hours, depending on the conditions of the place. Humidity, surface material, and temperature will affect how long the virus can survive on home surfaces.
Q: Can you contract COVID from touching surfaces?
A: The coronavirus can be contracted by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus will transfer to your body once you touch your nose, mouth, or eyes using the hands that got in contact with the contamination. This is why handwashing is a critical part of preventing the spread of the virus.
Do air purifiers help with coronavirus? It does, but only to some extent. You should still practice other precautionary measures to keep you and your family safe. When choosing an air purifier, make sure that it’s rated to eliminate viruses and bacteria in the air. Also, you should consider the cost and value for money of the unit.
Home Air Quality is founded by Bernard K to provide information on Indoor Air Quality in Homes and enlighten people about what they need to know about creating and maintaining a comfortable and healthy home environment.
We believe that “Quality air brings a healthy life.”