Sorry, do not believe the hype. Consumer air purifiers do not kill COVID-19 – NO, NADA, NIX, NYET!
And that is because the typical HEPA and Activated Carbon filters remove dust particles and noxious gases – not zap a virus. In fact, the virus can live quite comfortably in the filter! We repeat – consumer air purifiers do not kill COVID-19.
Please understand that GadgetGuy has no scientific training. We are relying on third-party research and statements from the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to cut through the hype that has led to panic buying of products that do kill the virus.
How is COVID-10 transmitted?
The virus lives solely inside respiratory droplets. Transmission is via physical contact with an infected person or less likely by touching surfaces that they have been in close contact with. Read more here.
The virus typically dies within a few hours of exposure to air, although high humidity (like in a humidifier) can see that extend to a few days.
If it lands on a surface, a diluted bleach solution, anti-bacterial wipes, or at least a 70% alcohol-based solution will instantly kill it. There is a list of US cleaning products here (check downloads folder as it is a PDF). The CDC has instructions for cleaning here.
What about airborne transmission?
The infected respiratory droplet needs to get directly into your eyes, nose or mouth to infect you. Otherwise, it will land on a nearby surface and die fairly quickly.
Most masks ONLY TRAP TO .5MICRONS (COVID-19 is .1 micron). Masks are to contain your germs and provide an extremely rudimentary barrier to other people’s respiratory droplets entering via your nose or mouth – nothing more.
Airconditioning can distribute the virus – but it is an insignificant problem.
Snake oil cures abound
Remember that almost all consumer air purifiers will not kill a virus. In fact, in the US the Federal Trade Commission has issued warning letters to companies claiming that their products will.
Claims that ionic silver and various aromatherapy are virus preventers or killers – are false.
Claims that chlorine dioxide gas (released by a neck worn portable air purifier) kills the virus are false. It can offer limited protection but the gas dissipates very quickly. As a scientist said, “If someone is sneezing at you, will it be able to kill all the virus particles in the droplets in a fraction of the second? I doubt it.”
Ozone generators (primarily banned in the western world due to its impact on the atmosphere) can kill the virus with prolonged exposure, but the risk outweighs the benefits. Ozone is poisonous and carcinogenic; it can cause damage to cells and reaches dangerous levels when allowed to accumulate in enclosed spaces.
Negative Ion generators, also worn around your neck, have limited success (like chlorine dioxide) as the effectiveness drops dramatically outdoors where the air is dynamic. They also generate ozone, so it is not advisable to use them.
UV light sanitisers have some limited success in killing virus on small items like glasses and smartphones. But it takes considerable time and close-up exposure.