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Can an air purifier kill COVID-19 in your home?

Last updated: 10-31-2020

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Can an air purifier kill COVID-19 in your home?

TORONTO -- The pandemic has a lot of people worrying about their indoor air quality and that is especially true now that colder weather has arrived.

So, if you purchase an air purifier, can it kill COVID-19?

The experts at Consumer Reports say that while an air purifier can help protect you from the disease’s particles in the air, even the best ones have their limitations.

“Reducing exposure isn't the same as completely eliminating it, so it is important to know an air purifier isn't the only way you are protecting yourself,” Perry Santanachote with Consumer Reports said.

Running an air purifier is a good way to keep dust, smoke and other allergens at bay inside your home, but if someone is sick, whether an air purifier can truly help is not a simple yes or no answer.

“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 per cent of particles that are 0.3 micron in diameter, but the filters also capture both smaller and larger particles even more efficiently, including COVID-19.

If someone in your home is not well they should be isolated in a separate room with an air purifier, even if the air purifier can’t catch everything.

“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. But even then, its not going to eliminate all of the particles, nor will the filter capture virus that has landed on surfaces in the room," Dickerson said.

The best advice? Along with using an air purifier, practice social distancing, wear face masks and follow other safety guidelines.

To see how fast an air purifier cleans the air, check its clean air delivery rating (CADR), which may be found on its packaging. A good CADR is over 240, which means it can perform about five air exchanges every hour in its suggested room size.

Some air purifiers can now be wheeled from room to room and also come with a remote control.

Before buying one, check the kind of air filter it takes as some are washable, but some need to be replaced every three to six months and can be expensive.


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