Air Purifiers Can Protect You Against Covid-19

Using air purifiers can reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. Some are also wearable.
Susan Fourtané
Expanded simulation of coronal viruses in the airbombermoon/iStock

Proper ventilation in indoor living spaces helps prevent all sorts of illnesses and reduces the transmission of viruses. This is common knowledge, not rocket science. The fresher and cleaner the air we breathe the better for our health. 

The use of portable air purifiers at home and in the office, as well as the novel wearable air purifiers that we can carry along with us, can reduce airborne viruses and germs in the living and working space. 

Wearable air purifiers can help clean the air in your personal space --this is about one square meter around us, or the area around you when you extend your both arms-- in other indoor and crowded spaces such as elevators, airports, airplanes, and public transport among others. 

Coronavirus particles fall within the particle-size range that HEPA filters capture. HEPA filters are those filters found in some air purifiers which capture particles of 0.01 micron and larger. A portable air cleaner --also called an air purifier-- with a HEPA filter can definitely help reduce the risk of airborne transmission of Covid-19. 

Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert, says that indeed, air purifiers generally can help. "The more air exchanges and the cleaner the air, the lower the risk," says Dr. Poland. "By itself, it's not satisfactory, so what we're doing, as we've talked about over the months [during the pandemic], is layering protections. Let's be sure the air in our home, if we are having people over, is as safe as it can be. That means a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter."

According to Dr. Poland, it is not necessary to spend a great deal of money in order to purchase a quality high-efficiency particulate air filter. Portable air filters are designed to filter the air in a single room only. However, they cannot remove all air contaminants. 

"The virus is not expelled on its own. The virus has to attach to something. A microscopic piece of mucus, a piece of dust in the environment --that's how it travels. A HEPA filter catches those and holds them there. It does mean that you have to change your filter at appropriate intervals," Dr. Poland says. The filter does not kill the virus, but rather it exchanges clean air more rapidly to get rid of the virus. 

"With a HEPA filter, it's being attached electrostatically to the filter itself so that it cannot then circulate in the air, which is why changing the filters and changing them properly is so important," says Dr. Poland.

Indeed. Dr. Poland reminds us that using air purifiers and filters may be one more tool to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19, along with continued face-masking when with others or when in public places, social distancing, and using hand sanitizers. Every single layer of protection adds to keeping us safe. 

Here are some tips on how to use a portable air filter:

  • Place the air purifier in the room that you spend the most time in, or where vulnerable people spend the most time 

  • To reduce risks of airborne transmission, direct the airflow of the air cleaner so that it does not blow directly from one person to another

Dr. Poland also recommends getting a flu vaccination this season, something especially important as part of the Covid-19 plan of protection. "Influenza vaccines are very safe, and are moderately effective," he says. "It will decrease your own anxiety about what these respiratory symptoms may mean. It will prevent you from going into quarantine. And it will prevent a surge in demand on the medical system, which is important for somebody who may actually have Covid-19 rather than influenza."

How air purifiers work

How air purifiers work or how effective they are when they are operating is not obvious, simply because it is not visible. Both portable and wearable air purifiers work by emitting electrically charged molecules or atoms, called ions.

These ions transfer the charge to particles such as the ones carrying a flu virus. These particles, which are invisible to the naked eye, are in a person's breathing zone. Charged particles repel each other and infected particles are finally pushed out of the breathing zone. 

Let's have a closer look at ion formation and the physics behind the invisible health benefits of air purifiers. 

Positive ions vs negative ions: The physics behind air purifiers

Ion formation. Source: ttsz/iStock

To understand how air purifiers work first we need to understand the effect of positive and negative ions on humans' health. The most important benefit of negative ions is that they clear the air of airborne allergens such as pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. Besides, they also clear the air of dust, pet dander, and cigarette smoke.

The harmful effects of positive ions on human health is called ion poisoning. Atmospheric ions can negatively affect human beings' health, well-being, efficiency, emotions, and mental attitude.

On the other hand, the positive effects of elevated negative ion levels in the air on human health include enhanced feelings of relaxation, reduced stress levels, reduced tiredness, reduced irritability and depression, and enhanced immune system. An enhanced immune system helps fight Covid-19.  

It is quite easy to make negative ions in your house. Burning beeswax candles help clean the air, produce negative ions, and can assist with allergy and asthma reduction. Running an indoor water fountain creates a force or energy and the falling water causes the neutral particles in the air to split, which frees electrons to attach to other air molecules resulting in negative ions. Both candles and water fountains are pretty, very calming, and relaxing as well. 

Portable air purifiers for desktop

air purifier for desktop
Source: MELEDEN Air Purifier for desktop with Filters/Amazon

This air purifier is great for the desktop. It comes with a HEPA Filter and a micro USB cable. According to the manufacturer, it filters 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, odors, mold spores, and pet dander.

It filters particles as small as 0.3 microns and larger, and filters air pollution of PM 2.5 (pollution rate) to help improve overall health and improve air quality in small rooms.

It is portable and weighs 550 grams. It can easily cover an area of about 10 square meters. It will automatically power off after 8 hours of use. It has blue LED night light. The negative ions bring efficient air filtration.

Wearable air purifier necklaces

By using pulse tip technology, wearable purifiers release a large amount of oxygen anion. Negative ions kill harmful bacteria, viruses, mold, decompose cigarette smoke, odor and formaldehyde, benzene, and other harmful gases released by car parts. Negative ions promote metabolism, activate cells, refresh, and relieve motion sickness. 

Unlike portable air purifiers, wearable mini air purifiers have been conveniently designed in the form of a necklace and they do not need a filter. They come with a USB cable and can easily be changed anywhere.

They are stylish, convenient to carry, and easy to operate with just one on/off button. Wearable air purifiers are designed to clean the air in your personal space by emitting millions of negative ions.

Here is a small sample of my favorite wearable air purifiers:  

GHmarine Portable Mini Air Purifier

portable air purifier
Source: GHmarine Portable Mini Air Purifier/Amazon 

The GHmarine portable mini USB air purifier is a personal, wearable air purifier necklace. It emits over six million negative ions that trap pollutants present in your personal space including second-hand smoke, bacteria, or particles that cause allergies.

You can wear it as a necklace to create a cleaner zone of air around you when traveling in public transport, airplanes, elevators, in the office, or other closed places with poor air quality conditions.

You can also place it flat on your desk to create a bubble of clean air around you. Placed on your night table the negative ions can improve sleep quality. According to the manufacturer, it can be charged for half an hour and it will remain charged for about 20 hours. This product is suitable for adults and children.

Wallfire Air Purifier wearable necklace

wearable air purifier
Source: Wallfire Air Purifier wearable necklace/Amazon 

This unique blue heart design is quite different from the other wearable air purifiers. According to the manufacturers, this air purifier necklace can reduce the harm of PM2.5, second-hand smoke, formaldehyde, and various germs and bacteria.

It can be useful in public transport, crowded tourist places, restaurants, pubs, elevators, and any other closed space. It is pretty enough to replace any other necklace.

PLAN Portable wearable necklace air purifier

necklace air purifier
Source: PLAN Wearable Air Purifier necklace/Amazon

This USB portable and wearable air purifier can be both worn as a necklace and also sit pretty on the desk. It weighs only 30 grams and is as small as a size 5 battery. It helps clear your personal space through negative ion purification.

During the night, it can stand on the night table purifying your personal space about one square meter around you, just like the other personal wearable air purifiers. That is why they are 'personal.' 

Looking at it from above, it will show a small white light when it is on, a red light when it needs to be charged, and a green light when it is completely charged. The on/off button is at the button of the device as well as the charging port. 

 HXQHB wearable air purifier, portable personal necklace

wearable air purifier
Source: HXQHB wearable air purifier, portable personal necklace/Amazon  

This portable and wearable air purifier adopts advanced negative ion technology. Besides purifying pollen, bacteria, and second-hand smoke, it can also continuously release healthy negative ion airflow.

It can clean your personal space from the bacteria, molds, and other pollutants around you that are harmful to your health. It produces 300 million anions per cm3, allowing you to breathe clean air wherever you go. It also looks nice.

Using air purifiers and filters may be one more tool to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19, along with continued face-masking when with others, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and using hand sanitizers.

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