Buying an air purifier to combat viruses
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, air purifiers have made headlines as an excellent method for controlling the spread of viruses. What, exactly, are viruses? How are they transmitted? Are air purifiers as effective as they say in fighting viruses? Read more below to find out.
What are viruses?
Viruses are biological, infectious agents that enter a host, replicate, and leave the host to infect another. These organisms are incapable of reproducing on their own and require the use of a host in order to thrive. They are usually much smaller than bacteria and are submicroscopic, meaning that they are too small to be viewed using a regular light microscope. They vary extensively in shape and size and are present in all living organisms, animals and plants alike.
Transmission methods of viruses are various, but transmission typically occurs through the respiratory droplets of an infected host, as is the case with the COVID-19 virus. Respiratory droplets, or small drops of saliva expulsed by the nose or mouth, are produced when we talk, cough, or sneeze. They are incredibly small, usually measuring around 5-10 µm1. Other viruses spread via:
- Touch: when a person has a virus on their hands and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth; an infected person can also touch an object (called a fomite) and the virus can remain active there for some time
- Example: COVID-19
- Direct contact: when a person touches the skin of an infected person
- Example: human papillomavirus (HPV), mononucleosis
- Bodily fluids: when two people exchange bodily fluids (semen or blood)
- Example: HIV
- Contaminated food or water: consuming food or water containing a virus
- Example: norovirus
- Insects: certain insects like mosquitoes can transmit viruses
- Example: Zika
- Childbirth: an infected mother can pass on viruses to an unborn child
- Example: cytomegalovirus2
Viruses can be transmitted anywhere where humans congregate. Using the COVID-19 virus as an example, at the height of the pandemic, cafes, hotels, and restaurants were hotbeds for disease transmission when humans coughed or even simply spoke in close proximity to one another.
Other places like nurseries, preschools, grammar schools, primary schools, secondary schools, and universities also experienced high rates of viral transmission and, due to the difficulties of applying social distancing measures, transmission to the rest of the family was common. Offices and co-working spaces additionally faced similar problems with transmission. As of 24 May 2023, COVID is responsible for almost 7 million deaths on a global scale3.
As a result, in addition to social distancing measures, these locations began installing high-performance air purifiers for viruses, monitoring CO2 levels, and encouraging regular ventilation.
The advantages of purchasing an air purifier for viruses
Studies have shown that air purifiers, especially those with HEPA filters capable of filtering fine particles from the air, can directly reduce the concentration of viral loads in the air and, thus, their airborne transmission rate4. Their performance can help to protect all of us, but particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities including children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those that are immunocompromised. By protecting the indoor air in a classroom, for instance, we can break the chain of transmission by avoiding infection of children (who are already vulnerable) and teachers who may then bring the virus home to their families.
More so, studies have also found that places with significant levels of indoor air pollution had higher rates of viral transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that the 6 feet (2 meters) social distancing measure was not sufficient. Particulate matter (PM), or fine particle pollution, in addition to having negative health impacts of its own, has been shown to act as a viral ‘carrier’.
Not only this, but the presence of air pollution suspended in the air protects viruses like COVID-19 from UV ray degradation, extending their lifespan and allowing them to proliferate more easily. For the first time, these studies are establishing a link between poor indoor air quality and higher viral transmission rates5. By eliminating air pollution from your breathing air with a high-performance air purifier, you are also protecting yourself from viruses.
Certain air purifiers allow you to monitor the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your indoor space. CO2 is an important indicator of your indoor air quality: high levels of CO2 in your indoor air show that your air is contaminated. This indicates that the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria is higher. High-end, modern air purifiers like Eoleaf’s, for example, come equipped with a handheld remote control that allows you to survey your air quality, humidity levels, and temperature in real-time. These are all factors that may contribute to viral transmission and should be checked regularly; the performance of a high-quality air purifier will help you do so.
Our devices also have a convenient Automatic Mode which automatically adjusts to the level of contamination in your air, speeding up or slowing down flow as new contaminants are introduced and filtered out using HEPA-certified and other filtration methods.
How to choose an air purifier to protect yourself from viruses?
The market is flooded with devices offering different levels of protection from a multitude of pollutants. Some air purifiers use HEPA filters, some use UV sterilisation, some use photocatalysis, and some, like Eoleaf’s air purifiers, use all of the above! How do you choose? A few factors should be considered before making your purchase of an air purifier to combat viruses.
First and foremost, if viruses are your main concern, your potential air purifier should contain a HEPA-certified filter and a form of sterilisation such as a UV lamp. HEPA filters are the only filters certified to remove particles down to a size of 0.01 µm, well below the typical respiratory droplet size of 5-10 µm. Eoleaf’s devices all contain medical-grade HEPA H13 filters. We then use UVC lamps at a specific virucide wavelength (254 nm) to completely sterilise the HEPA filters.
Other factors such as the size of your space, budget, energy consumption, and noise level are all important considerations. We’ve put together a thorough Buying Guide to explain all of these factors in detail and help you make the right choice for your space which can be found here or contact us.
1 Cuffari, B. (2021, February 15). The size of SARS-COV-2 and its implications. News Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/The-Size-of-SARS-CoV-2-Compared-to-Other-Things.aspx
2 Seladi-Schulman, J. (2023, April 21). Viruses: What are they, and what do they do?. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158179
3 World Health Organization. (2023, May 24). Who coronavirus (COVID-19) dashboard. World Health Organization. https://covid19.who.int/
4 Heo, K. J., Park, I., Lee, G., Hong, K., Han, B., Jung, J. H., & Kim, S. B. (2021). Effects of air purifiers on the spread of simulated respiratory droplet nuclei and virus aggregates. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(16), 8426. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8394335/
5 Miani, A., Piscitelli, P., Setti, L., & De Gennaro, G. (2022). Air Quality and covid-19: Much more than six feet. evidence about SARS-COV-2 airborne transmission in indoor environments and polluted areas. Environmental Research, 210, 112949. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8843809/