Do Indoor Air Purifiers Protect against Coronavirus?

Air purifier

When a pandemic arrives, questions are inevitably asked. How do people protect themselves? What systems or technology can be used or adapted to prevent the spread? Naturally, people will begin to wonder if indoor air quality control in Gainesville, GA, could help increase safety. After all, the protection of workers and the public are paramount. Luckily, manufacturers and engineers are asking similar questions.

Virus Protection

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have specific recommendations. To avoid contamination, it’s best to stay out of public spaces and limit exposure. When possible, wear a mask and gloves. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is helpful, especially if you have to go out in public. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and maintain social distancing. This is currently the best medical advice for protecting yourself and others.

Air Pollution

Viruses and air pollutants do have similarities. They spread through the air and are invisible to the naked eye. Additionally, they can negatively impact your health. One major concern is the difference in size. The coronavirus is around 0.1 micrometers in size. A micrometer (or μm) is one-millionth of a meter or a thousandth of a millimeter. For comparison, a human hair has roughly a 50μm diameter.

Many commercially available air purifiers are similar to high-efficiency particulate air filters (or HEPA filters). HEPA filters are commonly used in hospitals. Many HEPA filters are able to remove particulates from the air that are around 0.3 microns in size. However, the coronavirus is roughly 0.1 microns in size. One micron is equal to one micrometer. This means air purifiers and HEPA filters aren’t currently effective in combating the Coronavirus.

Combating a Virus

As you can see, stopping a virus is a matter of scale. Fortunately, not all air purifiers are the same, and there are filtration systems that could theoretically assist with limiting the spread of viruses. As an example, the Dyson Pure Cool has a highly advanced filtration system. It captures as much as 99.95% of air pollutants as small as 0.1 microns in size. This an example of an air purifier that could potentially help slow the spread of viruses. Of course, it’s worth noting this isn’t something that has been widely employed. It isn’t currently being used for this purpose.

It’s also true that capturing a virus isn’t the same as destroying the virus. Viruses can remain active and potentially infect people even when they’ve remained on a surface for several days. This is why constant cleaning and disinfection are necessary. You’ve probably noticed employees at grocery stores wiping down carts. Consider that surgical masks are made to be disposable. The intention is to prevent the spread of the virus. A virus can remain a hazard if captured by the mask. Throwing it away may prevent you from exposing yourself to it. Air filters would behave similarly.

Future Developments

Engineers and researchers remain hopeful. An air purification system with a nano-particle-covered filtration system has been designed to breakdown microscopic pollutants. This would include viruses. The intention is to break them down at their molecular level and oxidize them. Testing is still ongoing.  Even certain humidity levels are known to help reduce the spread of diseases such as influenza.

Internal duct sealing in Gainesville, GA, and maintaining indoor air quality could prove instrumental in preventing the spread of diseases, especially viruses. Contact Gainesville Mechanical at 770-532-9130 to learn about the latest developments in HVAC technology.

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