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Air Purifiers and COVID-19

With the outbreak of the recent pandemic named COVID-19, many individuals, societies, and institutions are trying to find out different ways to protect themselves and the public at large from the attack of Coronavirus, which is the cause of this highly contagious disease.

There are multiple ways to improve the air quality in your home. Using an air purifier is also one of the effective ways to keep the inside air clean and hygienic. And while brain-storming on these ways for protection from the novel Coronavirus one of the many questions being asked these days is;

Can an air purifier protect you from the covid-19?

Though the studies related to the spread of Coronavirus are still in the preliminary stage, yet some reports have suggested that it transfers from person to person through direct contact or contact surfaces. Some studies have also inferred that this virus is airborne.

And this has raised a lot of curiosities among many medical institutions regarding the utility of air purifiers in combating the spread of this deadly disease.

The Answer Is a No

An air purifier cannot protect you from Covid-19. But why? If it can capture such tiny small particles like invisible dust, why can’t it capture novel Covid-19? To know the answer to this question, we need to understand the science of air purifiers and viruses.

Understanding the science of air purifiers and viruses Like Covid-19

Firstly, we will touch upon the basic science of air purifiers and viruses one by one. Later we would try to understand the ability (or inability) of air purifier in combating the Coronavirus.

The Science Behind the Air Purifiers

Well, let us first understand the working of an air purifier. It is pretty simple. An air purifier consists of a fan. When the air purifier is switched on, the fan starts running and begins to draw air in. Now, there is another essential component that comes into the picture- Filter.

Yes, the air drawn by the fan passes through the filter. The filters are designed to capture the small to large particulates and odors present in the air. So, the filters hold these impurities while allowing pure air to expel out the other side. The most efficient air purifiers can capture 0.1-micron and bigger size particulates, while most of the air-purifiers can capture around 0.3 microns or bigger size particles only.

The Science Behind the Viruses

You must have heard about the bacteria- the species that can only be seen under a microscope. Viruses are even tinier than them. A virus is almost 1000 times smaller in size than bacteria. The typical size of a virus is in the range of 0.004 to 0.1 micron.

The size of the Coronavirus is around 0.125 microns. Another fact about Coronavirus is that it can survive on the surfaces for long periods.

Combining the Scientific Facts
We can draw some useful inferences by combining these facts around the science of air purifier and the viruses:
1

The best quality air purifiers in the household category at best use HEPA filters. These filters cannot hold particles smaller than 0.3-micron size. And as the size of the Coronavirus is much less than the holding capacity of the filters used in the purifiers, these viruses cannot be captured by these filters.

2

And this duration may be long enough to pass on the contamination to someone touching the filter and subsequently passing on to someone else and likewise.

Some industrial air purifiers use more high-quality filters like PECA filters. They can capture particles of 0.1-micron size and larger. However, these filters, though, can achieve these tiny viruses, yet they cannot destroy them due to the ability of these viruses to survive on surfaces for a long time.

Summary

Air purifiers are beautiful appliances to improve the air quality of your home by removing a lot of harmful pollutants present in the surrounding air, they are not effective in giving you protection from the Novel Coronavirus.

So, till the time scientists and engineers develop a product that can capture and kill the Coronavirus, follow the directives of your state’s or country’s formal advice of social distancing, maintaining the hygiene by washing hands properly and others directives released from time to time.

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