For several varying reasons, COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind. Air purifiers raise some interesting questions as people seek ways to reduce their potential risk. Air purifiers and COVID-19? Is there a benefit?
Today, we will examine this question in greater detail and provide you with all the answers.
Can Air Purifiers Help Eliminate COVID-19?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if used in given settings, air purifiers can reduce airborne contaminants in enclosed spaces.
They can also remove contaminants from the outside air if increased ventilation is necessary by other means.
However, there is a caveat to the above.
The EPA also recommends other measures alongside air purifiers to ensure minimal risk.
They suggest that continued ventilation is vital is reduce potentially infectious particles. However, there may be times when this is not possible, such as in heavily polluted areas or in buildings and rooms that don’t have open windows.
An air purifier is a good way to reduce viral particles in the above cases. However, they should ideally be used with other mitigation measures to have the highest chance of success.
The NIH reports that the highest percentage of virus particles created by the human respiratory system is around 2 micrometers. A good quality HEPA air filter can filter out particles down to a size of about 1 micrometer.
What’s a micrometer?
About one billionth of a meter! So pretty small!
But is it effective?
Well, in recent days, some national health services have employed air purifiers in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
How Do HEPA Air Filters Work?
The easiest way to envisage how HEPA air filters work in an air purifier is to envisage several mesh fences in series. With each passing stage, the gauge of the mesh in the fence gets smaller, trapping smaller and smaller particles.
This is exactly how HEPA filters work.
Instead of being made of mesh, they are made of a tightly woven bundle of fibers. As the air is forced through them under pressure, the various contaminants and particles in the air collide and stick to the fibers.
HEPA stands for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air”, but you need to exercise caution. Many sub-standard and poor-quality air filters will use terms like 99% HEPA when they don’t satisfy the true requirements.
Are Some Air Purifiers Better than Others in Reducing COVID?
Aside from HEPA, it really pays to look out for air purifiers with different technologies to remove all viruses and bacteria from the air.
How is this achieved?
Ultraviolet light. UV light is particularly effective in killing germs.
How does this apply to air filters?
Certain air filters, such as the Clair Air K2, have an extra stage to filter and purify the air. Before the air exits the air purifier, it is given a strong blast with UV light. This kills any germs that have managed to sneak through the HEPA filtration system.
As a result, you can have greater confidence that harmful particles have been removed from the air output by the purifier.
The air purifiers currently under trial in several hospitals also feature this technology, with a HEPA filter and a UV stage. If it is good enough to be used in a professional health setting, there must be some merits and benefits.
The above is further backed up with advice from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Their website states that air purifiers can be the ideal choice, especially in situations where it is not possible to otherwise maintain adequate ventilation. They go on to state that the most suitable types of air purifiers are:
- Filters with high efficiency
- UV-based devices
Further Steps to Protect Yourself
It should be noted that both the CDC and the EPA recommend air purifiers as part of a wider strategy to reduce Coronavirus risk. There are other steps that, should you be able, you can take to keep safe.
The key lies in increased ventilation, which can be easier said than done. Aside from a good quality air purifier, here are some ways that this can be achieved:
Avoid Air Recirculation
Often in workplaces or in the home, mechanical systems will be in place to pump fresher air into the room. Often to maximize efficiency and control temperature, some of that air is recycled and reintroduced to the system.
Ideally, this should be avoided. If possible, ensure that your ventilation system is set only to draw in and use fresh air from outside. If this isn’t possible, then an air purifier can be beneficial in reducing airborne particles, as discussed above.
One of the simplest ways to introduce air is to open windows. This allows a constant flow of ‘fresh’ air from the outside world.
However, in some areas, while the outside air might not contain viral particles, it could be laden with other contaminants, such as pollution or other allergens like pollen.
Again, an air purifier could be the solution as HEPA filters can remove both of the above.
Airing or Cleaning Rooms After Use
One way to reduce viral particles is to ‘purge’ a room after being used for an extended period. With an air purifier, this is actually really simple to do. You would be amazed at how efficiently they can clean the air.
The Clair Air K2 can purify all of the air in a 179ft square room in around 15 minutes. Perfect for a purification when everyone is on a coffee break!
Clair Air purifiers are fitted with HEPA filters and have a UV stage to kill virus particles. They can capture particles as small as 1 micron and offer UV sterilization as an added safety feature.