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Can an air purifier help kill COVID-19 particles?

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Posted at 6:18 AM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 06:18:30-05

Concern over COVID-19 has many people worrying about indoor air quality and whether an air purifier can help protect you from virus particles in the air.

Consumer Reports says you can see how fast an air purifier cleans the surrounding air by looking for its clean air delivery rate number on the packaging.

Running an air purifier is a good idea to keep dust, smoke and other allergens at bay inside your home. But if someone is sick, can it help? The answer isn't a simple yes or no.

"For an air purifier to be effective, it must be able to consistently draw in enough air to reduce the amount of particles containing the virus that persist in the air," James Dickerson, Consumer Reports' Chief Science Officer, said.

The HEPA filters in most residential air purifiers are certified to capture 99,97% of particles that are 0.3 micron in diameter. But the filters also capture both larger and smaller particles even more efficiently, including the coronavirus.

But if someone in your home is sick, should the be isolated in a separate room with an air purifier? Even then, it's not a cure-all.

“The faster an air purifier can exchange air in a room, successfully passing it through its filter, the better its chances of capturing the virus-laden particles," Dickerson said. "But even then, it’s not going to eliminate ALL of the particles, nor will the filter capture virus that has landed on surfaces in the room.”

CR said along with a purifier, people should continue to practice social distancing, wear protective masks, and follow other guidelines provided by the CDC.

One $830 air purifier from Blueair is the best and fastest in CR's particle reduction tests. However it's pricey and noisy at its highest speed. For less money, the Honeywell purifier scores excellent with good ratings.

Choose a model with a number over 240. That means the particular air purifier can perform roughly five air exchanges per hour in its suggest room sizes. Don't forget, simply opening up your windows and allowing fresh air in can help clean the air.