It’s impossible to escape the latest news about Coronavirus. It’s a strange time for all of us, and it really does feel like being in a movie as opposed to living real life. As many of us self-isolate and practice social distancing, we are all searching for ways to help us reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and living healthier lives.
A common question we have been getting recently is are air purifiers good for Coronavirus. The answer is a little tricker than a simple yes or no, so stick with us while we take you through the basic science and key features in order to show you the best ways to keep safe – with and without an air purifier.
Avoiding Coronavirus: the Basics
It’s good to go through what each of us should be doing every day to try and avoid getting sick. These are:
- Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly for 20 seconds
- Disinfect your home regularly, cleaning surfaces and handles alike. If you have an office, you may want to consider a Coronavirus cleaning specialist
- Do not touch your face, especially your nose, mouth, and eyes
- Avoid contact with others, especially those who are sick and displaying symptoms
It’s something that can’t be drilled into our heads enough, especially when you see so many people disregarding these essential rules. So, now that we have reinforced standard procedure, let’s move onto how air purifiers work with the coronavirus situation.
The Science Behind Air Purifiers and COVID-19
Air purifiers work to clean the air, filtering out allergens and other microns (like bacteria and viruses) that may cause irritation or make you feel unwell. They usually have HEPA filters installed, which are the most effective type.
You’ll find that most publications will claim that HEPA filters are able to capture particles as small as 0.03 microns. This is true, but also not. You see, this depends on the type of HEPA filter you are using, and this is what will determine how effective it is with regards to tackling Coronavirus. The next section goes into more detail about the different types of HEPA filter.
The reason the micron count is so important is because of the size of COVID-19. It is a minuscule 0.125 microns, which means that if you are using a standard HEPA filter in your air purifier, it probably won’t do much to tackle the virus. However, this shouldn’t mean that you give up on the notion of an air purifier because they are good for your general health and keeping the air in your home clean.
If you have, or want, a standard HEPA filter in your air purifier and you aren’t sure about upgrading, it is important to remember that being in good health generally means that you are less at risk. This includes things like keeping stress levels as low as possible, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Air purifiers can help to eliminate the nasties in your indoor air that may weaken your health in general.
Additionally, if you have allergies or asthma, an air purifier will help keep the air cleaner and more breathable for those who are suffering. Asthma suffers are classed as at-risk if they catch Coronavirus, which means if you are one, or living with someone who has it, you need to keep as safe as possible. Having air purifiers can reduce the number of allergens and irritants in the air for easier breathing and improved indoor air quality.
Super HEPA vs Standard HEPA: Is there a Difference?
For many, the concept of a Super HEPA filter is new territory. A standard HEPA filter comes with the 99.7% particle removal guarantee. This is pretty incredible for any filter, but it’s not quite good enough for tackling viruses. Especially since COVID-19 is a lot smaller in size.
The Super HEPA filters are able to capture 99.9% of particles, which also means it can capture those that are as small as 0.1 microns. This is good news because the Coronavirus measures in at 0.125 microns. This means that an air purifier with a Super HEPA filter would likely be able to capture the virus.
This is an uncommon feature, but one that has become more noteworthy as a result of the recent outbreak. Some air purifiers will contain a UV bulb that is effective at killing viruses and bacteria that are filtered through the air purifier.
This is a reassuring addition for many, and the bulb itself is very effective. While other strains of coronavirus might be tackled by this, it is important to remember that COVID-19 is a completely new strain that we do not fully understand yet. Germicidal UV could be a great way to combat it, but it might not, we still have a lot left to learn. It doesn’t hurt to have it just in case though.
Will an Air Purifier Capture Coronavirus?
The thing is, this is a new virus that we do not fully understand yet. Currently, research shows that this virus is likely transmitted through person-to-person interactions as opposed to being airborne. Therefore, a HEPA filter would not be considered the first line of defence for this particular illness.
At the same time, it is a virus with the potential to throw a few more surprises at us and even mutate. We don’t know if it does or can spread through the air, but it’s something scientists are working on. If it were discovered to be an airborne virus, then a Super HEPA filter would be able to help catch and tackle it.
There were some preliminary studies that suggested the virus could live in the air (in a similar way to SARs, a different strain of corona), but even these noted that physical transmission would likely remain the main cause of catching the virus and that airborne would likely be confined to healthcare settings. There are so many unknowns with this virus, that many choose to be safe and a little over-prepared in this regard just in case something unexpected happens.
Why are Hospitals Receiving Air Purifiers?
Since you’ve been reading, you’ll notice that the notion of air purifiers being good for coronavirus are mixed, to say the least. If this is the case, then why are companies sending hospital-grade air purifiers to hospitals to help tackle the virus?
While COVID-19 is not airborne, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals must remain in close proximity to those who have the illness, and the confined space within a hospital means that viruses like this have a stronger chance of living in the air temporarily.
Air purifiers can help to reduce the risk of medical staff contracting the virus by attempting to capture as much as possible. This improves indoor air quality and also helps to capture potentially dangerous particles. It’s not a foolproof plan, but we all want to help the heroes on the frontline as much as possible, and air purifiers have even a small chance to make that possible.
Should You Get an Air Purifier for viruses?
The big question now is should you pick up a new air purifier? They are useful for more than just potentially helping you fend off a virus, and they are great at keeping the air in your home generally clean.
They are especially useful for those who have allergies and asthma, helping them to breathe better and enjoy a home that has cleaner air. The important thing throughout the Coronavirus pandemic is to follow government advice at all times: keep your hands clean, stay away from others, and stay inside unless absolutely necessary.
Having an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your home certainly won’t hurt, but it’s important to remember that it’s also not a guaranteed way to stop Coronavirus – especially when we aren’t sure if it’s one of the airborne viruses yet.
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Last Updated on April 8, 2021 by Gemma Tyler
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.