Air purifiers can remove COVID-19 and other viruses that circulate in the air and give you peace of mind at a time when sharing air is stressful.
The devices should not replace protective measures, such as masking and social distancing, but they provide yet another layer of protection when combined with these practices. Air purifiers, also called air cleaners, can benefit every home but are a valuable tool for homes that have inadequate ventilation or cannot run their HVAC systems continuously.
Certain kinds of air purifiers are designed to remove particles, including viruses, that are the size of COVID-19. That's important because these particles can remain in the air for minutes or even hours, where they can spread the virus to others who inhale them.
Of course, not every air purifier effectively sanitizes the air and provides additional protection from the COVID-19 pandemic. You have to make sure that you have the right device for your space and air filtration needs. It can be overwhelming to learn about different air sanitizing technologies if you're new to air cleaners. Let the air purification experts at Alen break down how the best air purifier for COVID-19 can help safeguard you and your loved ones from the Omicron variant.
Are Air Purifiers Effective at Removing COVID-19?
Sales of air purifiers have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as people looked for ways to stay safe at work and home. But do they actually work for eliminating airborne viruses?
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is primarily spread through infectious respiratory droplets transmitted via the air. To spread, the virus usually must be attached to something larger, such as respiratory droplets or aerosols. Large droplets tend to settle on surfaces where they are unlikely to be breathed in, but fine droplets and aerosol particles can linger in the air for hours, where they are more easily inhaled.
Since air purifiers have been shown to remove other airborne viruses and bacteria of a similar size, many people assumed that the devices would work for this highly infectious strain of coronavirus.
While more research is needed, studies indicate that air purifiers can remove the particles that transmit COVID-19. One recent study provides the first evidence from a real-world setting of air purifiers' effectiveness in reducing the spread of COVID-19, though the results are still awaiting peer review.
This study was conducted in full COVID-19 wards at hospitals and found that portable air purifiers with HEPA filters removed coronavirus and other disease-carrying particles from the air. In the general ward, where patients were most infectious, the researchers did not find any viral particles in the air when the device was operating. Particles were present when the devices were not in use, leading researchers to conclude that air filters reduce the chances of patients and staff contracting SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals.
The top health agencies in the U.S., such as the EPA and the CDC, suggest that air purifiers effectively remove the particles that cause COVID-19. According to the EPA, "When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space." The EPA recommends portable air cleaners as one practice to help improve indoor air in homes during the pandemic.
The CDC's COVID-19 resources also suggest that air purifiers effectively reduce COVID-19 transmission. A July 2021 CDC report demonstrates that HEPA filters reduce exposure when combined with masking. The CDC also developed a tool to help people determine which preventative actions will help decrease the virus particles in the air during and after someone visits their home. The tool suggests that a portable HEPA air cleaner will reduce the number of virus particles in the air by 81% after a 4-hour visit. Combining the air cleaner with other measures to ventilate your home can eliminate even more particles.
The best information available suggests that air purifiers reduce airborne transmission in indoor spaces, safeguarding you and your loved ones if you have contact with an infected person.
However, it's important to know that an air purifier does not make you invincible. Many of the studies were conducted in settings where participants were following other guidelines, such as wearing masks or personal protective equipment in the case of the hospital setting. Even though air purifiers are effective, it's still best to follow the recommendations of your local health officials for indoor gatherings.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers work by drawing in the surrounding air and forcing it through one or more filters. The filters neutralize any particles, including viruses, and recirculate the cleaned air. Some filters can remove as much as 99.99% of harmful indoor pollutants.
Many air purification devices are mechanical, and a motor powers the unit's fan. More powerful motors can suck in air and drive it through the filter faster. That means the air in the room is cleaned more quickly, giving virus particles less time to float in the air.
Air purifiers can improve indoor air quality, positively impacting the health and wellness of everyone who breathes in the air they filter. The devices are beneficial for people with allergies or asthma, so they are commonly recommended by allergists to help reduce symptoms. Air cleaners provide the most significant health benefits when used continuously.
Air filters will not remove any harmful particles stuck to the surfaces in your home, but you can get rid of the germs on these surfaces with regular cleaning.
Considerations for Selecting the Right Air Purifier
The type of filter can determine both the size and kind of pollutants pulled from the air. Filters have a dense pattern of fibers that can trap small particles. Some filters with more intricate weaves can capture particles as small as 2.5 microns in size. Many HEPA air filters remove airborne particles, including virus particles. HEPA filters with activated carbon can get rid of gaseous compounds, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), smoke, and bad odors, too, giving you protection against the broadest range of indoor pollutants.
The total square feet in the room will impact how effective the device can be in that space. It's important to make sure that your air purifier is designed to work in the room where you place it. Compare your room's square footage to the product packaging to ensure it will work in your space. Otherwise, the device will not be as effective at removing particles like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
HEPA stands for "high-efficiency particulate air" and refers to a type of filter used in mechanical air purifiers. HEPA is a trusted filtration technology with a wide range of applications, including filtering the air in your home. HEPA filters have a web of synthetic fibers that trap many harmful particles. This widely used technology has become the gold standard for air filtration, and researchers have primarily used HEPA air purifiers to study the effectiveness of air purification systems for reducing the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, HEPA filtration will capture the following common particles that may be circulating in your home:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
If you want to take advantage of this leading filtration technology and filter out gases and odors, choose a HEPA filter that contains activated carbon. This air filtration system is an excellent choice for anyone who needs to get rid of both particles and gases.
While there is no universal standard for measuring HEPA filters, some manufacturers follow the European standard. Look for filters labeled "True HEPA (H13) filter" to take advantage of the same technology that hospitals and other healthcare settings rely on for sanitized air.
HEPA filters work best when you follow the manufacturer's instructions for the replacement schedule. It's a good idea to inspect your filter every six months to check how dirty it is. Be careful when it's time to replace the HEPA filter because you can inadvertently release harmful particles back into the air during this process.
How Alen Air Purifiers Work
Alen offers a line of high-quality air purifiers that use HEPA filtration to help you combat the spread of COVID-19 in your home and keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Our affordably priced filters contribute to the relatively low annual operating costs of an Alen air purifier.
Some Alen air purifiers use laser sensor technology to detect and capture harmful particles from the air. When set to auto-mode, your device will adjust the fan speed when indoor pollutants are detected and will display the air quality status using LED color rings in real-time. That can be reassuring to everyone, especially when you have guests over.
Air purifiers are only effective when they run continuously. If a unit is too loud and competes with your conversations, you are unlikely to use it. Alen air purifiers are whisper quiet. That's just one of many reasons we have so many five-star customer reviews.
You'll love the look of your Alen air purifier. Many of our sleek devices have customizable color panels so that you can coordinate them with your décor.
Read more: air purifiers for businesses
Air Purifiers vs. Air Cleaners vs. Air Filters
If you're new to air filtration devices, the terminology can be confusing. You'll hear terms like "air purifier," "air cleaner," and "air filter."
It's common among manufacturers to use "air cleaner" or "air purifier" interchangeably. Some manufacturers may only call a device an air cleaner if it employs a technology designed to sanitize the air (using negative ions, UV lamps, or ozone), but this usage is less common.
Air filters refer to the network of fibers that capture harmful pollutants. These replaceable filters are inserted into air purification systems. The quality of the air filter is just as important as the quality of the air filtration device.
The Omicron Variant: What's Ahead?
Medical experts are not sure when the Omicron wave will peak. In South Africa, where the virus was first recognized, infections peaked after around a month and took a few more weeks to come back down. Public health officials are wary of assuming that the U.S. will follow a similar trajectory because of differences in median age and vaccination rates between the two populations.
Some experts think that a vaccine booster that targets Omicron is necessary. The WHO recently suggested that a booster shot targeting this highly infectious strain may be needed. Some vaccine manufacturers have indicated that they plan to release an Omicron booster.
Some predict that COVID-19 will lose its pandemic status in 2022. This will likely be driven by increasing vaccination rates around the globe and younger children becoming eligible for vaccination. Additionally, the availability of antiviral pills that reduce the severity of the disease will help.
However, that doesn't mean that life will immediately return to normal. Many experts think COVID-19 will become an "endemic" danger that stays with us for a long time. It may be less severe and cause fewer deaths, and it will follow a similar pattern to flu season. The CDC may eventually recommend annual COVID-19 booster shots, targeted to combat whatever variants are circulating that year, just like the flu shot.
With no end in sight, that means an air purifier may be yet another tool for reducing the spread of both COVID-19 and other viruses during flu season.