The pandemic COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus has unsettled the entire world. The ground reality is that until a vaccine for the same comes out and everybody gets inoculated, we have to live the life of social distancing and maintaining unerringly impeccable self-hygiene. But work will continue, and people will still have to go out to make purchases. At such times will using air purifiers at home help get rid of the coronavirus in the circulating air? Today, we shall try and answer the question to your satisfaction. But, before we proceed with a “Yes” or a “No”, let’s look at some basic facts which will validate our answer.
How Big Is The Coronavirus?
Using electron microscopes, scientists have been able to successfully measure the size of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The coronavirus particles are spherical in shape. In microbiology, they are known as “Virions” which is actually the complete, infective form of a virus outside a host cell, with a core of RNA and a capsid. The diameter of these spheres is approximately 0.125 microns or 125 nm. The smallest of these measures around 0.06 microns, while the bigger ones around 0.14 microns.
Filters Used In Air Purifiers
A HEPA filter is fitted in the modern-day air purifiers to capture contaminants. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter, and these have an efficiency of 99.97% in trapping particles right down to submicron size.
There are two facts about the HEPA filters that you need to know.
1. The efficiency of 99.97% in the HEPA filter is attributed to the most penetrating size of the particle, which is 0.3 micron.
2. The HEPA filters don’t just capture particles up to 0.3 microns, but even smaller ones as well. So, ideally, they can trap infinitesimally small matter. However, in all that, you cannot forget the fact that it is only 99.97% efficient and not 100%. Needless to say, some matter does escape, and so there is scope for improvement.
Can Air Purifiers Trap Coronavirus?
To some degree, an air purifier that is fitted with a HEPA filter can trap a percentage of the airborne coronavirus. Once the virus is captured, it is unable to multiply and remain infectious for an extended period of time. Nonetheless, there is no air purifier built till now that can fully protect you from a virus.
An air purifier is a passive way of enhancing your breathing space at home or in office, wherever it is installed. The good thing is that it does not involve any big changes in your normal everyday life. What it essentially does is provide extra backing or support to your immune system to fight off any virus.
HEPA Air Purifiers And Coronavirus
As stated above, HEPA air purifiers can remove 99.97% of the 0.3 micron-sized particles. Even then, some viruses bypass the filter. A portion of the COVID-19 and other flu viruses can be removed by a HEPA air purifier. The extent to which this removal is successful is still a matter of debate. Studies and proxy tests are being conducted as we speak to test its efficacy. A sure shot answer can only be given once the results of these tests are published.
Spread Of Coronavirus
According to the CDC or the Center for Disease Control, COVID-19 spreads from one person to another through close contact. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, they release the virus particles attached to extremely small droplets of water. These infectious droplets float in the air and cause airborne transmission.
The bigger infected droplets settle on surfaces. A few or more people may touch these surfaces and pick up the virus. When they rub their hands on their faces, the virus finds its way inside the next human body and multiplies.
Air Purifiers And Coronavirus: How Air Purifiers Prevent The Spread Of coronavirus?
More and more health experts are advising people to stay at home. An air purifier that works as intended can play a major role in significantly minimizing the airborne transmission of the coronavirus. The air inside the room will pass through the air purifier multiple times a day. It increases the likelihood of capturing a major portion of the floating coronavirus particles. Once they get trapped, they will not survive too long and save your family from the deadly COVID-19.
If a family member is sick with COVID-19, running an air purifier in the room they occupy and are quarantined in will go a long way in protecting the other members of the family or the caregivers. The same stands true for healthcare workers who quarantine themselves once they are back home.
Air Purifiers Are Not First Line Of Defence Against Coronavirus
By no means are the air purifiers the first line of defense against the coronavirus. They can only ensure the quality of air inside a room when running continuously. Even then, a small portion of the virus may still escape being caught by the HEPA filters. So depending solely on the air purifiers is not a good idea.
Most homes these days have central heating and cooling, and so they are well insulated. So well indeed that ventilating these homes properly by opening windows is not an option. Even if it were, it would still be lacking. Under these circumstances, one can use an air purifier in conjunction with their HVAC unit or use standalone air purifiers in individual rooms. Those who can ventilate their homes should open their doors and windows. It would allow the fresh air from outside to come in and dilute the concentration of the virus present in the air inside the home.
Air Purifiers And Coronavirus – Concluding Thoughts
Having some sort of defense against the coronavirus is better than having none, and air purifiers are just that – an added protection. Depending solely on them to save yourself from the dreaded COVID-19 is foolhardy. The best you can do is practice social distancing, stay at home until absolutely necessary to go out, refrain from touching your face, wash hands every hour with soap or an alcohol-based sanitizer. These practices, together with using an air purifier, will help keep you and your family safe.