Are air purifiers effective against the corona virus?

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As there is a global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are questioning if air purifiers can fight airborne viruses.

Air cleaners and HVAC filters are designed to filter pollutants or contaminants out of the air that passes thru them. The reduction of airborne pollutants, which includes particles containing viruses, can be done by air cleaners. Portable air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) may be incredibly helpful when additional ventilation with outdoor air is not possible without compromising indoor comfort (temperature or humidity), or when outdoor air pollution is high.

To an extent, Yes. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) equipped air purifier can capture a part of particles sized as airborne viruses. It traps the particle so that viruses cannot multiply on their own and cannot be infectious for long. But keep in mind that air purifier cannot completely protect you from any virus. 

It is often believed that air purifiers can give additional support to the body’s healthy immune system, which is the most critical tool against the coronavirus. It’s a passive and always-on way to improve a breathing space’s overall health that doesn’t require significant changes.”

How does the virus spreads and how air purifiers help or act?

According to the CDC, viruses, including COVID-19 spread by close person-to-person contact, especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Virus particles are attached to and carried by water vapor, tiny droplets that float in a fine mist until coming into contact with another surface. The length of time virus particles can survive in the air and on surfaces depends on a range of factors such as the type of virus and surface it lands on, but many can remain infectious for several hours.

The developers of air purifiers do not have the allowance to advertise their devices as health products in the United States for a few reasons, because their benefits aren’t straightforward. Rather than claiming incredible health outcomes, purifier advertisements usually focus on the number of harmful substances in the air and how the devices filter them out.

Each airborne particle you inhale—whether it’s a pollutant, allergen, or pathogen—triggers your immune system’s response. By capturing those harmful particles and circulating clean air throughout your space; your body can focus on keeping your immune system healthy day and night.

That means an air purifier has to be capable of consistently drawing in enough air to reduce the number of virus particles in the air. The better chances of catching virus particles depend on how fast the air purifier can cycle air through the filter. We can know the air purifier rate cleaning the surrounding air by looking for its CADR (clean air delivery rate) number on the packaging.

One part of a wellness plan is breathing air that is free from harmful chemicals and particles, including enough sleep, plenty of purified water, high-grade hygiene, and a balanced diet. We should also use proper handwashing techniques to help you avoid infection from viruses such as COVID-19, colds, and the common flu.

WHO has recommended a ventilation rate of at least 288 m3/h per person. Natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation system is necessary to achieve such a high ventilation rate. However, natural ventilation is dependent on weather condition and building structure, which make it challenging to achieve such a ventilation rate all the time.

Air cleaners and HVAC filters in various places

Portable air cleaners can also be known as air purifiers or air sanitizers. They are designed to filter and make the air pure in a specific space or area. A central furnace or HVAC filters are designed to filter the air throughout a home. Portable air cleaners and HVAC filters can reduce indoor airborne pollutants, including viruses. Portable air purifiers and HVAC filters are not themselves enough to provide a shield to people from the virus, causing COVID-19. However, they can be used along with other things recommended by the CDC and others. Filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors.

The HVAC systems of large buildings typically filter air before it is distributed throughout a building, so consider upgrading HVAC filters appropriate for your specific building and HVAC system (consult an HVAC professional). The variety and complexity of HVAC systems in large buildings require professional interpretation of technical guidelines.

Use portable air cleaners to supplement increased HVAC system ventilation and filtration. Directing the airflow so that it does not blow directly from one person to another reduces the potential spread of droplets containing infectious viruses. Air cleaning proves to be useful when used with source control and ventilation. Still, it cannot replace these methods—in source control, removing or decreasing pollutants such as smoke, formaldehyde, or particles with viruses. When used alone, the air cleaners cannot ensure adequate air quality, mainly where significant pollutant sources are present, and ventilation is insufficient.

How can Air purifier capture Corona Virus?

HEPA filters are handy, certified to capture 99.97 percent of particles precisely 0.3 microns in diameter.

The novel coronavirus itself is 0.125 microns, but Marr says the droplets it travels in—when people cough, talk, or breath—are initially more extensive around 1 micron. HEPA filters can easily capture particles of this size.

CADR can reflect the volume of clean air produced by an air purifier at its highest speed setting in cubic feet per minute. At lower speeds, the rate a machine can clean air decreases. The packaging should consist of three CADR ratings, smoke, dust, and pollen, which shows small, medium, and large particles, respectively. For example, a cleaner with a CADR of 250 for smoke can reduce smoke particle levels to the same concentration that could be achieved by adding 250 cubic feet of clean air each minute. Smoke particles are similar in size to the smallest virus droplets, while larger droplets are closer to the pollen size range.

According to the CR’s lab tests of air purifiers, it is recommended to look for a model with the CADR over 240, which can perform roughly five air exchanges per hour in its suggested room size. These tests have shown that these air purifiers perform well to remove particles of all sizes from the air quickly. Many of the models have a CADR over 240. 

The matter that should be considered is that you should not run any air purifier on its highest speed setting. Air purifiers can be quite loud, especially at higher speeds, disturbing the sick person’s sleep. Air purifiers’ noise levels can be measured in decibels and rated. Many models perform well, removing particles even at lower and much quieter speeds.

Even the most efficient air purifiers cannot effectively prevent some of the droplets from landing on surfaces, where they can survive for hours or even days according to early research at the National Institutes of Health. To help prevent the virus’s spread in your house, you should clean your home and wash your hands frequently, too.

Importance of cleaning

As we all know that the majority of cases of COVID-19 came from person-to-person contact, we should take in the knowledge for the importance of proper cleaning of an area.

So, most people have rigid surface and hand cleaning; the inclusion of cleaning the air can help manage enclosed spaces. Virus particles are carried by water vapor, which are tiny droplets that float in a fine mist until they come into contact with another surface. The length of time virus particles can survive in the air and on surfaces depends on a range of factors such as the type of virus and surface it lands on, but many can remain infectious for several hours.

The need for air cleaners/purifiers

The cases of COVID-19 are tremendously on the increase over the past few months, and you may be considering to install an air purifier given the dangers. In-home settings, though, the transmission usually occurs through close contact, which means an air purifier probably won’t protect you if a roommate or family member in the same house gets sick. Cleaners may help businesses and restaurants trying to improve the air in their indoor spaces.

Conclusion:

Finally, we should be aware that the indoor air purifiers should be used as an extra and precautionary measure. Other more significant efforts have been taken, such as local source control that includes local pollutants exhaust, filtration, removal and disinfection, frequent disinfection of the room and furnishing surfaces, and ventilation. Mostly they do what they say, that is, clean the air inside your home. And depending on your health needs, or if you live in a house with many sources of pollution, cleaner air might make a big difference for you or your children. If you think that an air purifier might be beneficial and help someone in your own home, it’s worth talking to an allergist. So, to be on a safe side and considering all the safety options and their features, it is worth to get an air purifier.

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