The huge number of Covid-19 cases and the number of people who died because of it have raised concerns of international organisations, governments and people in general. There have been various studies by many organisations for finding out the effective methods to prevent the spread of the virus-like maintaining a distance from people around you, wearing a mask and keeping a clean environment by the use of sanitisers.
There has been debate about whether the virus is airborne or not. Such debates have raised the concern of people, and various companies making air purifiers have used this opportunity to increase their market, claiming that their products are effective in cleaning the air around and can help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
But are these claims genuine? Does an air purifier really help prevent the spread of Covid-19?
We are sure you might have had these questions in the back of your head. Today we will look at some facts to clear the confusion, myths and facts regarding the relation of air purifiers and Covid-19.
How does an air purifier work?
Most of the air purifiers in the market use a mechanical air filter to clean the air around them. In this method, they have a mechanical filter generally made of synthetic material.
To understand the working in simple terms, we can relate it to a fish trying to pass through a net but instead of getting through gets stuck in the net.
The mechanical method is comparatively the most effective for the filtration of airborne particles, as the filters used in such purifiers is High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and HyperHEPA.
But there is a difference in the functioning of different type of air filters. In mechanical filters, the air passes through, and the particles in the air are trapped because of the filter. In contrast, in synthetic air purifiers, a charged media made of synthetic fibres is used that attracts the dust particles. The particles stick to the synthetic fibre due to the electrical charge.
Most air purifiers use the HEPA method because of a higher rate of airflow. Still, they lose their effectiveness after a certain period because of the particles stuck in the filter.
The fact to be kept in mind is that these filters are mostly tested for particles bigger than 0.3 microns which is way bigger than the size of most of the viruses.
Effectiveness against micro-organisms
The experts believe that the claims of most of the air purifiers cleaning the air of the Covid-19 virus are not exactly true.
Although the technology used sounds very effective, most of these are not very capable against the virus as per the claims of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA says, “When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or a small space. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from Covid-19.” They added, “In order for an air cleaner to be effective in removing viruses from the air, it must be able to remove small airborne particles (in the size range of 0.1-1).”
How can we protect ourselves?
With people being gathered in closed indoor spaces like offices, schools and other buildings, safety against such fast-spreading virus remains a primary concern among the masses.
These buildings have started equipping themselves with a variety of air cleaners in order to create a fake sense of safety.
According to the studies, the best environmental conditions for transferring the Covid-19 virus among the population is when the people have no mask on and don’t maintain physical distance. This is often overlooked when in closed spaces like school, offices and gyms.
Experts also recommend the use of air filters in places where people have to in closed a closed environment with recirculated air for extended periods of time like aeroplanes.
The best method of preventing the virus is to have a flow of clean air by the use of windows. If not possible, air filters can be used, but these solely can are not capable of controlling the spread instead they need to be complimented by maintaining physical, use of masks and maintaining clealiness of individual and the work space.
While vaccination still being the best step in order to control the ongoing pandemic.