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Do air purifiers protect against COVID-19? What about wildfire smoke?


RE CREST / Tips Clear

COVID-19 is worrying people all over the world – and especially in the United States, where the recent death toll has exceeded 200,000. At the same time, Wildfire wreaked havoc on the west coast Of the United States, displaced in the thousands. The questions are natural as we adapt to the new realities. What kind of masks should we wearThe Is it safe to breathe air in the Bay AreaThe Can air purifiers solve any of these problems?

To answer that last question, we consulted air quality experts at the top institutions in the United States. We asked if air purifiers can solve some of our air quality problems – or at least mitigate them. Coronavirus Viruses floating in aerosol drops around our homes come with fire and smoke.

This discussion, together Our own test After a dozen of the leading air cleaners in the market and further reading on the subject, we arrived at some answers.

If I want an air purifier, how do I get it right?

For those of you who know you want to buy an air cleaner, I have already written a comprehensive article with solid recommendations. There are a lot of purifiers on the market, and some of them are impressively effective given their reasonable price tags.

For those still on the fence, continue reading.

Do Air Purifiers Really Work?

This is one of the most common questions asked by readers, and also reminds why close reading and skepticism occur when you are researching products as a consumer. Air purifier developers are not allowed to advertise their devices as health products in the United States for some reason – most fundamentally because their benefits are not straightforward. Rather than claiming unreliable health outcomes, purifying advertisements usually focus on the number of harmful substances in the air and the effectiveness that affects their equipment.


Molecule, which sells some of the most aesthetically pleasing purifiers on the market, was recently forced by the National Advertising Review Board to withdraw a set of misleading claims being made since 2017.

David Priest / Tips Clear

To answer the question in the most basic of terms: Yes, air purifiers typically filter particulate matter effectively from the air – especially if they use HEPA filters (more on those in the next section). But most of us already have a mechanism to effectively filter air: the respiratory system. Microbiologist and Vice President of Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health, Drs. Alex Berrezzo explained in a recent blog post, “There are immune cells living within the small air sac (called alveoli) in your lungs called macroscopes.” “Big eaters” bacteria, viruses, fungi and whatever other debris happens to find their way into the lungs. “

In short, air purifiers work, but you probably don’t need it unless you live in a particularly polluted environment or you or your children are immuno-compromised.

Do they protect against COVID, wildfire smoke or other seasonal pollutants?

High-efficiency particulate air (or HEPA) filters are standardized products that must remove 99.97% of particles in the air that are 0.3 micrometers in size (a particularly difficult shape to hold). HEPA filters are generally more effective with particles larger and smaller than that size. Pollen, smoke particles and aerosol droplets that can transmit COVID can all be filtered out of the air with such filters.

For example, a coworker’s mother recently began using Cowe’s air purifier, and immediately noted improved air quality in her foggy San Francisco home. Similarly, one of our editors recently tested the Dyson TP04 air purifier during the Saharan Dust Cloud Saw that the air cleaner does its job: “Gradually, the graph of the app’s line began to fall for each type of pollutant. After an hour or two, everything was back in the green zone.”

But the story is a bit more complicated when it comes to COVID. Simply put, do not rely on air purifiers to protect you from virus particles if you are coitus with an infectious person. When I took the Director of Indoor Air Research University of Tulsa to Dr. Talked to Richard Schaugheny over the phone, he said that transmission of COVID is usually due to close contact with the infected person. If you are sitting on a couch and interacting with someone who is an air purifier in the room, remove all harmful particles before they have a chance to reach you.

An additional problem is the difference between catching and killing virus particles. While HEPA filters will capture particles, other techniques, such as UV technology, will kill viruses. Unfortunately, such technology often comes with It has its risks.


Coway’s air purifier is one of the best in the market. It incorporates ionic filtration technology, but has been certified by the California EPA as emitting negligible or no ozone over time.

David Priest / Tips Clear

I have heard of ozone coming from air purifiers. should I be worried?

Ozone is a type of pollutant that has been found in the past to have a narrow set of air purifiers to emit. Before we dive into it, it is helpful to understand the basic types of air purifiers on the market. now.

The three most popular filtration methods are air purifiers used to clean the air: HEPA devices remove particles from the air side through a specially designed and standardized filter; Activated carbon filters remove odor and gaseous pollutants by driving air in “sorbent media”, which trap it; And finally, ionic purifiers produce ions that attach themselves to particles.

Ionic purifiers work in some ways. Some simply attach ionized particles to surfaces around the house (causing them to “remove” from the air). Others have a plate that collects those ionized particles and requires constant cleaning. The latter are devices that in the past have had problems with ozone production. Fortunately, standards have increased in recent years and third-party firms now test ionic air purifiers to ensure that they are not releasing significant ozone in the home.

Generally, I avoid ionic air purifiers simply because they are not the most effective for the price. If you really want one, check to make sure it has certified from Underwriters Laboratories or California EPA that it does not emit ozone.

Who would definitely benefit from an air purifier?

The research here is a bit complicated. One of the most obvious demographics that benefit from HEPA-filtered air cleaners are children suffering from asthma, without going too far into the weed. Population Health and Pediatrician at Dell Medical School of the University of Austin, Drs. Elizabeth Matsui has researched the use of air purifiers in the homes of children with asthma and has told me about the value of air cleaners in such homes.


Even an excellent air purifier like Blueair’s 411 will not accomplish as much as cleaning and ventilating your home.

David Priest / Tips Clear

The air purifier, he warned, calls for “proximal interference”, with no replacement. For example, a HEPA air cleaner can reduce the case of asthma in a smoker’s home and reduce the child suffering from asthma by 25% –50%. But this is not the best solution: ideally, the person should stop smoking in the house completely. A clean and well ventilated environment – and of course proper medical care – is far more important than an expensive air cleaner.

And to be clear, while the air purifier can help reduce the symptoms of childhood asthma, Drs. Matsui says, “There is not good evidence that we can currently modify the environment in such a way that Lowers rates Asthmatic, Whether by air purifiers or any other means. “In other words, air purifiers are aids for children who suffer from asthma, but they will not reduce the chances of a child developing asthma in the first place.


With so many air purifiers on the market, finding the right one can seem overwhelming.

David Priest / Tips Clear

If you have any other questions that I have not answered above, be sure to ask them in the comments, and I will be happy to update the article with answers.

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