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Can Air Purifiers tackle COVID-19? Expert Explains

Last Updated on 28 October, 2021 by Sourav Roy

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. The fear is real. Of course, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing can minimize the spread of coronavirus significantly. Have you given ventilation a thought? Can air purifiers tackle COVID-19?

Can Air Purifiers tackle COVID-19?

The earlier days of coronavirus had everyone disinfecting their groceries or anything brought from out before they could be touched. Blindly, everyone followed this strategy and believed it was an ideal way to kill the virus. Over some time, research proved that any surface transmission is a far-fetched source of spreading the infection.

Air transmission is real. The infection can spread like fire. The environmental air is inhaled every time a person speaks or breathes. World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed that COVID-19 can be transmitted the fastest via air particles.

Here’s a link for everything in detail: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions

Aerosol transmission should be your biggest concern right now. If there was something like being a ‘conscious inhaler’, you certainly need to mould yourself into being one. Can an air purifier help in the process? Let’s get our facts right.

 

How to monitor the air quality?

Ventilation is one of the most effective ways of curbing the COVID-19 virus or any other airborne disease. Some of the best ways of doing it are mentioned below.

  • Keep the indoor windows and doors open for a long period for cross ventilation.
  • Turn on the exhaust fan.
  • Running an air conditioner fan will be a brilliant idea. It features an outdoor intake vent.
  • Operating an air purifier at home is one of the most effective ways.

 

What does an air purifier do?

Air purifiers are designed to do the two most important things. Mathematically, Air purifiers = Airflow + Filters. Let me explain the concept in theory.

  • Air purifiers are fabricated to create an airflow. The appliance creates the flow (measured in cubic feet per minute) in the purest form.
  • Air purifiers use potential filters to remove all the pollutants from the air. These filters capture the adulteration and expel them out completely with the help of continuous airflow. In this process, air purifiers succeed in cleaning the indoor air.

 

Why do you need an air purifier?

Air pollution is certainly one of the most common problems in India. The pollutants and contamination in the air are increasing by the day. And then comes the never seen before virus – SARS-CoV2. Airborne transmission of the virus is a matter of concern.

  • Respiratory droplets can easily generate microscopic aerosols in the process of evaporation.
  • Talking and breathing can also cause the person to gasp the exhaled aerosols. These aerosols carry the virus in sufficient quantity to pass on the infection to the other person.

 

How does an air purifier work?

The appliance purifies the air in four major steps

  1. The air filter traps all the contaminants.
  2. The ionizer neutralizes all the contaminants in the air.
  3. The activated carbon filter traps all the odour molecules.
  4. The UV light breaks all the pollutants.

How does the entire process work? Let’s know in detail.

 

HEPA filter

Every air purifier has an in-built HEPA filter that is designed to strain out all the contaminants in the air. The HEPA (Highly effective particulate air) filters are pretty dense and capable of trapping 99.97% of contaminants. It pulls all the pollutants in such a way that they don’t float back into the air at all. HEPA filters are capable of capturing microns up to 0.3 in size.

 

Activated Carbon filter

Unlike the HEPA filter that traps all solid particles, activated carbon filters can absorb chemical vapours efficiently. The filter can capture all odour producing molecules swiftly. It also eliminates gaseous pollutants.

 

Ionizer

An ionizer makes use of an electrical charge to neutralize all pollutants and infections. The ionizer works in two ways. It releases negative ions in the air and causes the contaminants to stick onto the surroundings and dropdown. The ionizer also works by drawing out all the contaminated air onto the metal plates.

 

UV Light

UV lights are one of the powerful sources of eliminating the COVID virus present in the air. The technology utilizes non-lethal radiation that gets emitted from the UV light and attacks the virus as it passes through the system. The UV lights also break apart the molecule structure of the virus to ensure they become harmless to the human body. They are designed to kill any virus which is floating around the ultraviolet light.

 

Can ozone generators eliminate the COVID-19 virus?

The emergence of SARS-COVID-19 has certainly got everyone trying out new disinfecting and sanitizing appliances. How does an ozone generator work? And the question here is can it eliminate the virus? Ozone generators are three-atom molecules and alter the standard oxygen molecule. The appliance is highly effective in killing all kinds of contaminants and inactivating the virus significantly. Not just the surface, but ozone generators can immobilize viruses present in the air as well.

 

Which is the safest and the most effective air purification technology?

Well, all air purification technologies mentioned above – HEPA, UV light, Ionizer and Ozone generator; are all capable of diminishing the effect of coronavirus particles present in the air. However, HEPA filters can remove a big chunk of viruses from the air amongst all air purification technologies. Also, prolonged exposure to UV lights can disable a large portion of the virus.

Speaking about safety, not all purification technologies are 100% safe. Therefore, one must consider this aspect before indulging in it. Ionizers, HEPA filters and UV light are safe. There’s nothing to worry about in the use of either of them. However, the application of the ozone generator is a matter of concern. Gasping in the ozone can result in throat irritation, cough and shortness of breath. Aren’t these the symptoms of COVID-19?

Well, I am not saying that you will attract the virus while operating the ozone. But in any case, if the virus has entered your system, there are high chances of your symptoms being aggravated. There’s also one major drawback – Ozone generators can cause lung damage.

 

How to use the air purifier the right way?

Every appliance must be used the right way to derive the desired results. How to use the air purifier the right way to keep the virus away?

  • Position the air cleaner in the room at the right spot. What’s the right spot? At a short distance from the people sitting in the room.
  • Direct the air purifiers airflow to the cleaner. This should be done to ensure the airflow is not directed from one person to another. Well, the small initiation can lower air transmission significantly.

Combining these strategies can help you stay protected from COVID-19 to a great extent.

Firstly, it will increase the ventilation at home.

Secondly, it will improve the quality of air.

Thirdly, it will filter out all the airborne contaminants.

Recommended Reading: Air Pollution in India – A Brief Highlight

 

How can you improve the air purifier functioning to keep the virus away?

Sure, you can buy yourself the best air purifier available in the market. But while you are operating the appliance, I would recommend doing the following.

  • Keep the windows open.
  • Turn on the ceiling fan.
  • Strategically use a floor fan.
  • Use a high-quality air purifier filter.
  • Replace the filters as and when required.
  • Clean the air purifier periodically.

 

How to use the air purifier in the case of COVID-19?

We have already discovered the answer to the big question – Can air purifiers tackle COVID-19? But if you or another family member has already caught the virus, you certainly have to pull up your socks to ensure the virus does not spread like fire to the other members at home. Small initiatives can help make a large difference.

  • Get yourself an efficient and reliable air purifier. Explore some options on my blog right away- 9 Best Air Purifiers in India 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide.
  • Position the air purifier 3 feet away from the person suffering from COVID-19.
  • Operate the air purifier at a low speed.
  • Ensure nothing is obstructing the airflow.
  • Change the HEPA filter when needed.
  • Do not touch the appliance without a pair of gloves when in use.
  • Any family member who has not attracted the virus yet should not come close to the air purifier without wearing a mask.

Recommended Reading: Indoor Air Pollution: Everything You Should Know About It

 

Wrapping Up

Can air purifiers tackle COVID-19? The World Health Organization has recognized coronavirus as an airborne virus. Sure, we need to follow other preventive measures like wearing a mask, repeated hand washing, disinfecting the surfaces, maintaining social distance, and taking care of your health. But getting yourself an air purifier and cleaner is the right thing to do in this pandemic.

An air purifier certainly provides an additional layer of protection from the virus. At this stage of life, take every little or big step to reduce the risk as much as possible. Remember, we are in this together.

Meghna Jalali
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