Buying an air purifier for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the ‘novel coronavirus’, is classified as one of the worst viral pandemics in over a century. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has claimed the lives of almost 7 million people around the world with 767 million confirmed cases1. From 2020 (the start of the pandemic) to the present day, many people have invested in an air purifier for the coronavirus as a way to protect themselves from germs (bacteria and viruses) at home and in public spaces. Can an air purifier, in fact, help shield you from the dangers of epidemics and pandemics like COVID-19? Read on to learn more below.
What is COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus (widely known as COVID-19, COVID, or SARS-CoV-2) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19
After exposure, the incubation period of COVID-19 is typically around 5 days before a person will start experiencing symptoms. The timeframe of symptoms can vary, but symptoms usually last from one to 14 days. Some of the most common symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 are:
- Loss of smell or taste
Other less common symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- A skin rash or discoloration of fingers or toes
- Red or irritated eyes
Symptoms of a serious COVID-19 infection requiring medical attention are:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Loss of speech or mobility
- Chest pain
For some individuals, contracting SARS-CoV-2 can also lead to ‘long COVID’ which is when symptoms last longer than 12 weeks. Typical symptoms include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, anosmia (loss of smell), and muscle aches. People who experience long COVID can have a host of varying symptoms ranging from problems with memory and concentration and insomnia to depression and anxiety3.
How and where is it transmitted?
COVID-19 is highly contagious when inhaled through the respiratory system. Transmission occurs from an infected person’s nose or mouth via small liquid particles. These particles range in size from larger droplets to smaller aerosols and can be spread when a person talks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes. You become infected when you come in contact with these particles: this can occur if you are in the presence of an infected person and are breathing in the aerosols, if droplets land on your face, or if you touch an infected surface and then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose.
The coronavirus spreads rapidly in rooms, homes, or spaces that have poor ventilation where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity. Crowded, indoor settings where people talk, shout, breathe heavily, or sing have a high particle transmission risk. Some places known for a high risk of coronavirus transmission include restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, nightclubs, offices, and places of worship.
Transmission rates are also high in places like nurseries, kindergartens, and secondary schools. In schools where children are present, it may be particularly difficult to enforce physical distancing measures, posing major risks of viral transmission to families.
Office buildings are also high-risk and require the use of high-performance air filtration, natural ventilation, and social distancing measures during COVID-19 pandemics.
Whilst there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable, people of any age can contract and become seriously ill or die from the coronavirus. Most healthy people experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring treatment. However, some individuals will become seriously ill and require medical attention. The most vulnerable population groups include the elderly and people with underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and/or diabetes2.
How to prevent COVID-19 transmission
To avoid COVID particle transmission, it is recommended to avoid the 3 Cs: crowded places, close-contact indoor and outdoor settings, and closed spaces with poor ventilation.
Additionally, to reduce transmission, it is recommended to follow the 3 Ws: wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance4:
- Wear a mask that is properly fitted that covers your nose, mouth, and chin.
- Wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based rub.
- Stay at least 1 metre apart from others.
It is important to practice respiratory etiquette. If you have to sneeze or cough, use the ‘vampire cough’ method by covering your nose and mouth with the material near your elbow. If you feel unwell, stay home and self-isolate until you recover.
The benefits of an air purifier for COVID-19
Installing an air purifier for COVID-19 in the home and in public spaces can be a crucial step in protecting vulnerable populations from severe illness or death. An air purifier can also protect even the non-vulnerable populations from contracting the coronavirus or other airborne viral or bacterial diseases. By installing an indoor air purifier for COVID in schools, for example, students, teachers, and their families can all be better protected from COVID-19 transmission. An air purifier is notably useful for protecting the elderly in places like nursing homes, medical offices, and hospitals. These locations house large numbers of vulnerable individuals who are at the highest risk of mortality from the coronavirus.
Furthermore, air purifiers eliminate air pollution particles and improve poor air quality. Air pollution particles present in the ambient air can carry SARS-CoV-2, protect it from UV rays, and, thus, extend its lifespan. Results of a study performed by Harvard’s School of Public Health found that breathing polluted indoor air can worsen the effects of SARS-CoV-2 with air pollution exposure causing an 11% increase in mortality from COVID-196.
Some air purifiers can be useful in measuring the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ambient air in your home or space. This metric is a good indicator of the quantity of contaminated air: a high CO2 level in the air can lead to a high risk of transmission of bacteria and viruses. This could also be useful information to have in schools, especially those with a high-density of students.
How to choose an air purifier for COVID-19?
An air purifier is quite simple: it pulls in contaminated air using a fan, treats the contaminated air inside the device using various filtration technologies, then recirculates that air back into your room, home, or space. Air purifiers can contain many different types of technologies. Some of the most well-known include bamboo filters, activated carbon filters, photocatalysis, HEPA-certified filters, UV sterilisation, and ionisation, to name a few. Eoleaf’s devices contain all of these!
Before you make your purchase, it is important to educate yourself on the various technologies offered by the many air purification devices available on today’s market. If fighting bacteria and viruses like the coronavirus is your goal, here are a few things to look for:
Choose the right type of filter
To fight viruses and bacteria, you want to make sure that you purchase a device with a medical-grade HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. In places with vulnerable populations like schools and nursing homes, this technology is indispensable. HEPA filters eliminate 99.97% of contaminants from your breathing air down to a size of 0.01 μm. This includes COVID-19 since droplets and aerosols usually measure between 3 to 30 μm7)! Keep in mind that ‘HEPA-type’ filters are not guaranteed to filter the same particle sizes as HEPA-certified filters.
Consider your room size
Air purifiers are designed to filter the air in a room or space of a maximum size. Make sure that your air purifier for COVID protection is properly sized! This will ensure that your device will have the capacity to filter all of the air in your home or space.
Keep noise level in mind
Since COVID is a concern in all types of public spaces, make sure that you purchase a device that is quiet but powerful. This is especially important if it will be installed in a learning or working environment. Bedrooms in your home, classrooms in schools, and offices will particularly need devices that will not disturb the users of these spaces.
Choose a device based on your budget
Again, because such a vast variety of air purifiers for the coronavirus is available on today’s market, this means that there are many options, technologies, and capabilities available! This also means that there is a wide price range. There are three things to consider when analysing your air purification budget:
- The device’s initial price
- Maintenance costs like filter replacements (remember: lower-quality filters, though cheaper, need more frequent changes whereas higher-quality filters usually need changing only once a year)
- Energy consumption – try to find a device that is the most energy-efficient possible!
Feel free to contact us: we are available to answer any questions you may have in choosing the right device for you. Also take a look at our Buying Guide which provides an in-depth analysis of all the factors to consider when purchasing an air purifier for COVID.
1 World Health Organization. (2023, June 21). WHO Health Emergency Dashboard - Coronavirus (COVID-19) dashboard. World Health Organization. https://covid19.who.int/
2 World Health Organization. (2023a). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
3 NHS. (2023, March 21). Long-term effects of COVID-19 (long COVID) . NHS choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/covid-19/long-term-effects-of-covid-19-long-covid/
4 Navigating covid-19: The three CS and three WS. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. (2022, May 18). https://uihc.org/health-topics/navigating-covid-19-three-cs-and-three-ws
5 World Health Organization. (n.d.). Avoid the Three Cs. WHO Western Pacific. https://www.who.int/westernpacific
6 X. Wu et al. Air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States: Strengths and limitations of an ecological regression analysis. Sci. Adv. 6, eabd4049 (2020). DOI:10.1126/sciadv.abd4049.
7 University of British Columbia. (2022). What size particle is important to transmission of covid-19?. Aerosol Laboratory - Department of Mechanical Engineering. https://www.aerosol.mech.ubc.ca/what-size-particle-is-important-to-transmission/