When the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, the public began hoarding disinfectants and rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers, along with tissue rolls, but as it turns out, everyone might have been missing on something that could add another layer of defense during the COVID-19 crisis: air cleaners or purifiers.
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Could air purifiers work inside homes against COVID-19?
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Nowadays, portable air cleaners that can be worn like a necklace are getting more popular, but there are also home air cleaners or purifiers that can be bought on the market.
Now the question is, do these actually work?
According to a report by NPR, these seemingly unassuming products can limit the spread of COVID-19 by capturing the viral particles from the air in a HEPA filter and then cleaning the air around six times per hour.
In homes, the air is fully changed around once in two hours.
With that, air purifiers could help add another layer of protection against the virus in the right circumstances.
For quite some time, the World Health Organization (WHO) has dismissed the notion that the novel coronavirus is airborne, but this July, the organization has begun recognizing the possibility that the virus could be transmitted via aerosol particles, according to a previous report by Vox.
Are These Tools Worth it?
"It's a relatively easy way to get clean air in a place where people are in close contact," said Joseph Gardner Allen, an associate professor of exposure assessment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "It's a simple plug and play solution in that area."
So, should you get a portable air purifier?
That really depends on whether you live alone, or you're at home with a bunch of people, and one of them is a frontliner, or if a family member has finally come home after being stranded somewhere, increasing their chances of having been exposed.
Moreover, air purifiers are definitely worth the investment if someone in the family tests positive for COVID-19.
How Well Would They Work?
Nevertheless, how well do these tools help?
Unfortunately, there really aren't any solid data on how much air cleaners can help, but dean Richard Cosi of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University has been testing air purifiers and running models to show how much the tools can filter indoor air.
Based on his study, there is a significant decrease in the level of particle levels in a large bedroom in his home.
Despite that, some medical doctors argue that air purifiers can do nothing against the COVID-19 virus, to which Allen and Corsi respond and say that they are simply wrong and that they're actually wrong in two ways.
According to Allen, HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of airborne particles that are .3 microns small, as well as other particles regardless of their sizes.
Meanwhile, Corsi says that the virus can't live outside of saliva or mucus particles and that HEPA filters are able to remove them from the air.
Although air purifiers add protection, they are not a substitution for everything else, and it is still essential to follow safety guidelines and practice social distancing and isolation to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
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Written by: Nhx Tingson
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