Are Air Purifiers Effective Against the Coronavirus?

Up until this year, March and April were all about allergy season, but with the coronavirus running rampant around the world, we're not just dealing with seasonal sniffles—we're also facing a pandemic. When you take both into account, it's easy to understand why so many people have started to re-evaluate their home sanitation efforts, including those that actually impact indoor air quality.

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Enter air purifiers, which aim to do just that. We've heard plenty on their benefits during allergy season, but they're also helpful in the context of COVID-19. To ascertain whether or not they're worth the investment, we asked a few experts to share everything you need to know about these devices. Ahead, how purifiers work, why now's the time to bring one into your home, and which are the best for the job.

Related: How to Prepare Your Home for a Pandemic, According to Experts

How do air purifiers work?

According to Sam Railton, a Dyson Environmental Care engineer, purifiers work by drawing air through the base of the machine and passing it through a fully-sealed filtration system. "As the air passes through, pollutants are captured in the various parts of the filter," he explains. "The air then (in the case of Dyson's purifiers) passes up into the Air Multiplier amplifier that projects the clean air back into the room." He says that this process of air mixing is crucial to ensuring that you're purifying all the air in your room and not just the air surrounding the purifier.

What do they actually remove from the air?

Purifiers are designed to remove a specific percentage of pollutants from the air. Railton says that all of Dyson's purifiers feature fully-sealed filtration systems that capture 99.97 percent of pollutants down to 0.3 microns. "Typically, air pollution falls into two categories—particles (pollen, bacteria, mold, pet dander, etc.) and gases (volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, odors, benzene, nitrogen dioxide, etc.)," he explains. "We make sure that we capture both using different parts of our filter. The HEPA media capture particles and the activated carbon in our filtration systems capture gases."

It's through this process that air becomes pure (hence the name) and free from allergens and other harmful airborne particles. Even still, the Dyson Cryptomic range of purifiers take it a step further to not only capture formaldehyde—which Railton points out is one of the most common VOCs found in our homes—but continuously destroy it, too.

Can air purifiers eliminate the coronavirus from your home?

While Dyson purifiers are scientifically-tested to capture particles as small as allergens and viruses, no purifier manufacturer—including Dyson—can speak to their products' performance against the COVID-19 virus, given there's still so much we don't know. Nevertheless, according to Dr. Michael Hall, a general practitioner and founder of Hall Longevity Clinic in Miami, less dust in general means less dust for bacteria and viruses to attach themselves to; this reduces their mobility and the chance of these damaging particles entering your respiratory system—thereby protecting you from infection. "Although 0.3 microns is larger than the size of the coronavirus' particles, the virus typically attaches itself to particulate like dust, which is much larger, therefore, capturing it," Dr. Hall says.

Studies also indicate that the coronavirus can loiter in the air for 30 minutes and move around 15 feet, he adds. Using a HEPA filtered air purifier will reduce the amount of particulate in your interior atmosphere, which will ultimately help keep your living area safer.

Why should you buy one right now?

People tend to think about air pollution as an outside problem, but, as Railton points out, in reality, it's also an indoor problem. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that indoor air can be up to five times dirtier than what we breathe outdoors. Because of this, Railton thinks a purifier is always a good idea—but they're especially helpful now, given that many of us are now practicing social distancing and spending much of our time at home.

When deciding on a model at this point in time, lean towards whole-room purifiers, as opposed to personal types. Railton recommends the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool ($649.99, or the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Cryptomic ($750, "Both are our latest technology that continuously purifies the air in your home while simultaneously being used as a fan or a heater," he says. "There is also a backward airflow option if you don't want to use it as a fan or a heater."