When used correctly, air and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a small building or space. Air cleanliness or filtration alone isn't enough to protect people from COVID-19. Filters are designed to improve indoor air quality by physically removing small particles of matter that may be floating, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. These are all things that occur naturally, but they can aggravate people's allergies if they breathe them in. The most common type of household filters right now are HEPA filters. Disinfectants are designed to kill bacteria, viruses, mold, or fungal spores that may also be floating.
These things also occur naturally, but they can make you sick if you are exposed to sufficiently high concentrations of them. The most common type of disinfectant right now is ultraviolet light devices. Ozone generators alter the standard oxygen molecule to have three atoms instead of just two. The three-atom molecule is called ozone, not oxygen, and it interacts differently with its environment than the normal air we breathe. Air purifiers that use HEPA filters, UV light, or ionizers are OK.
However, inhaling ozone can cause coughing, throat irritation, shortness of breath, and other problems, even in healthy people. Ozone can even cause damage to the lungs, so local weather authorities sometimes issue ozone alerts. Keep in mind that unless you have someone with an active COVID-19 infection in your household, you won't have any source of coronavirus to reduce or filter with any of these methods. Therefore, you will change the air quality inside your home in other ways. What do you want people to know about air purifiers? Air purifiers are not a magic formula. Therefore, it's important to think of them more as part of your plan than as part of your entire plan. Let's say I visit him at his house and I still don't know if I have COVID-19. If I sneeze at you just two feet away and neither of you is wearing a mask, then your risk of exposure will definitely increase, even if you have an air purifier nearby.
But if you live alone and you're the only one there, the chances of contracting coronavirus from the air in your own home are practically nil. When you buy through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. In 2003, during the SARS outbreak, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority recommended that hospitals use portable air purifiers with HEPA filters to help reduce transmission to healthcare workers if isolation rooms were not available. In the U. S., the novel coronavirus itself is 0.125 microns, but Marr says the droplets it travels through when people cough, talk, or breathe initially are larger, around 1 micron. It's a size easily captured by HEPA filters. This means that an air purifier must be able to constantly suck in enough air to reduce the amount of virus particles in the air.
The faster an air cleaner can circulate air through the filter, the better your chances of trapping virus particles. You can see how quickly an air purifier cleans the surrounding air by looking up its CADR (Clean Air Supply Rate) number on the package. However, a practical aspect to keep in mind is that you may not want to use an air cleaner in its highest speed setting (to achieve the highest CADR). Air purifiers can be quite noisy, especially at higher speeds, and that can disturb the sick person's sleep. Here at CR we measure air purifier noise levels in decibels and rate that trait. The models we highlight perform well in removing particles even at lower and quieter speeds.
Because air purifiers typically have several speed settings, we perform tests to remove dust and smoke at both the highest speed and the lowest speed, and we do the same for noise. Here are seven air purifiers that have high CADR and score Excellent or Very Good in our particle reduction tests while quiet, so they should help capture viruses without disturbing a sick person's rest. The Alen BreatheSmart Classic is an air purifier made for large rooms, but this stylish model can clean the air quietly and even faster when used in a small room, such as a bedroom. It scores Excellent in our high-speed particle reduction test and a rating of Very Good at its lowest speed. Both speeds get good noise ratings, which means you should be able to hold a conversation in the room. This Blueair Blue Pure 211+ scores excellent in our high and low speed particle reduction tests, one of only two models that do (the other is the Blueair below). This air cleaner is relatively quiet at its lowest setting, which generates a good noise rating but it is a bit loud at its highest speed setting. While the Blueair Classic 605's cleaning capacity is more than most people need in a bedroom, it's the best and fastest air purifier we tested and it scores excellent in our high and low speed particle reduction tests.
It's the only model we tested that gets a very good noise rating at its low speed and at the same time it gets excellent cleaning results (although at its highest speed this model is quite noisy).In our tests, the high-speed setting of the SPT AC-2102 air cleaner scores an Excellent at removing particles from the air but it is quite noisy and scored fairly in that test. However you can use it in a lower speed and quieter setting which still earns a rating of Very Good for Particulate Removal. At high speed this Winix 5300-2 scores Excellent in our particle reduction test and scores Very Good for Noise; it's also the most economical model on this list. We recommend operating it only at high speed because this Winix does not work particularly well for removing particles at low speed. As with the previous Winix 5300-2 we recommend operating it only at high speed because this Winix does not work particularly well for removing particles at low speed.
Do Air Purifiers Help Protect Against COVID-19?
ConclusionAir purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses when used correctly; however they are not a magic formula for protection against COVID-19. It is important to remember that unless there is someone with an active COVID-19 infection present in your home there will be no source of coronavirus for an air purifier to reduce or filter out.
- Look up CADR (Clean Air Supply Rate) number on package to see how quickly an air purifier cleans surrounding air
- Operate only at high speed as some models do not work well for removing particles at low speed