In every corner of the world, people are now aware of the pandemic potential of certain types of viruses. Because of the precautions we’ve had to take and the communication from public health officials and researchers, we now all have a reasonably well-developed understanding of what viruses are, how they function, how they multiply, and how to safeguard against spread.
This common knowledge is beneficial because it equips us to engage in the right health and safety practices, one of which has to do with indoor air quality.
Two Clarifications: What Air Purifiers can do for COVID-19
First, when we talk about “best air purifiers for COVID-19,” we want to be very clear that there is no specific air purifier technology that laser targets coronaviruses. Rather, there is air purifier technology for viruses. This includes any and every virus, and has to do with the characteristics of viruses as a whole.
Second, messaging from any company — even ours, which is arduously dedicated to research — must be cross-checked with governing bodies, regulatory agencies, and trustworthy officials.
We sell air purifiers for viruses (and, of course, other uses), and we will never undermine your trust by making wild claims that air purifiers cure COVID or other groundless statements. What we will do is provide guidance like you’ll find in this brief article that will help you understand how air purifier technology can support a comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure to viruses like COVID-19.
Good? Let’s dive in.
How COVID-19 Spreads: Viruses and Airborne Transmission
Before you can understand how air purifiers work for COVID-19 and other viruses, you need to understand why we deal with viruses in the air at all. Viruses go through six steps in a host, which are attachment, penetration, uncoating, replication, assembly, and release. The timeline for this varies widely, but two things are important related to COVID-19:
- The ability for the virus to replicate or copy itself
- The final stage of the virus is “release,” which is not in fact when it leaves your body but when infected cells release a virus within your body
The way a virus gets out of your body is known as “shedding,” and occurs when you release infectious virions through very small droplets (respiratory secretion), skin-to-skin contact, or other aerosolized releases.
Is Airborne Transmission of COVID-19 Different From Droplet Transmission?
This question has come up a lot in our world of virus air purifier technology. Is “airborne transmission” different from “droplet transmission”?
According to the World Health Organization, “Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission as it refers to the presence of microbes within droplet nuclei, which are generally considered to be particles <5μm* in diameter, can remain in the air for long periods of time and be transmitted to others over distances greater than 1 m.”
*μm = microns
Air Purifier Technology for Viruses
Because of the reality of how viruses work, and how they can spread, any air purifier technology for viruses must first address droplets at the smallest possible size.
The first tech to bat for that is HEPA.
HEPA — high efficiency particulate air filter — is the gold standard of air filters, with a finely woven mesh that has yet to be improved upon. HEPA air filters are theoretically able to remove airborne particles down to 0.1 microns. This means that, if captured, many of the droplets or particles that contain viruses could be filtered out with HEPA.
The one caveat is that this is a mechanical process, meaning forced air has to get through the HEPA filter for it to work. If you buy the right size air purifier and if the right air flow circulates, HEPA is highly effective. But it also may not be enough by itself, which is why we highly recommend multistage air purifiers for viruses.
Let’s look at two other types of technology that can be useful as part of a comprehensive air purification approach for viruses and more.
Ultraviolet light has been proven to inactivate viruses, and has long been used to reduce bio contaminants from surfaces in medical facilities. UV lamps are a common tool, and using UV light as part of a holistic air purifying system can be a powerful approach. An open source research article published by the National Academy of Sciences relays these findings about UV and COVID-19:
“We find that ultraviolet (UV) radiation has a statistically significant effect on daily COVID-19 growth rates: a SD increase in UV lowers the daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases by ∼1 percentage point over the subsequent 2.5 wk, relative to an average in-sample growth rate of 13.2%.”
Bi-polar, Cold Plasma Ionization
Bi-polar ionization, also called cold plasma ionization, uses simple electricity to split water vapor into positively and negatively charged ions. This charged ion effect causes airborne particles to draw together, grow too heavy to float and fall from the air. By blanketing the air, this form of air purification can be highly effective in cleaning the air from all types of particles, adding in an extra layer of purification even beyond HEPA and UV.
This is an advanced technology that requires in-depth exploration to fully understand. If you’re interested, read our Guide to Ionic Air Purifiers.
Air Air Purifiers Worth it (Especially for Virus Protection)?
It’s essential that you do some due diligence. Many businesses are profiting from concern over the ongoing nature of COVID-19, and we want you to make research-backed decisions that make a real difference for your family.
The good news is you don’t have to take our word for any of this. Throughout, we’ve linked third-party research from authoritative sources. That should get you well on your way to understanding the power of air purifier technologies like those listed above to protect your home against the spread of viruses and more.
We referenced the value of multistage air purifiers, and the one we recommend you check out is the iAdaptAir® HEPA UV Air Purifier. It is best in class for virus protection, operates whisper quiet, features smart controls, and is highly effective at purifying the air in your home.
Read next: Do Air Purifiers Help With COVID-19?