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Are Our Indoor Spaces Prepared for a Coronavirus Outbreak?

Ran Korber

As the Coronavirus continues to spread globally, new and interesting questions are being raised around our existing indoor air quality solutions and how they might defend us against virus outbreaks in the future.

Do Indoor Air Purifiers Protect Against Virus Spread?

The best current defence against Coronavirus contamination includes regularly washing hands, minimizing exposure to public spaces, trying not to touch our eyes, nose and mouth and maintaining physical distance from others.  This is the formal advice provided by the World Health Organization.

However, is it possible that our indoor air treatment solutions could protect us against future virus outbreaks like Coronavirus now and in the future?

Coronavirus VS. Particulate Matter

Viruses and air pollution have a lot in common - they both spread through the air and are invisible threats which negatively impact our health. However, they are quite different in terms of size: 

particle-size-of-coronavirus-and-pm2.5-and-masks-750x410

(Credit to Sotirios Papathanosiou at See the Air for this amazing visual representation)

 

As reported by Buzzfeed, most commercially available air purifiers are similar to high-efficiency ‘particulate air filters’ (HEPA). In other words, they can remove many particles from the air but are unlikely to work for Coronavirus due to its small size.

As Dr. Erin Sorrell, assistant professor of microbiology and a member of Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Science and Security underlines: Whereas many filters capture particles of around .3 microns - the Coronavirus is roughly .1 microns.

Air Purifier Brands Exploring Ways to Combat Virus Spread 

When it comes to the Coronavirus contagion, it’s important to realize there are significant differences between the technology and nature of some air purifiers compared to others. For example, unlike some models, the Dyson Pure Cool™  involves advanced filtration, enabling it to capture 99.95% of particle pollution as small as 0.1. Microns². 

As reported by Digital Trends, a representative from Dyson stated that the company’s air purifiers will capture viruses, but won’t destroy them. 

dyson-pure-cool-link-600x323

Separately, Molekule is an air purification device built with a nano-particle-covered filtration system designed to breakdown even microscopic pollutants in the air - including viruses - to their molecular level, and oxidize them. The company’s air purifying technology is currently undergoing third-party formal testing to confirm whether or not the solution is indeed successful in protecting us against the Coronavirus - there is no current proof that it will work as a solution.

Other leading air purifier brands such as Blueair have not been tested against Coronavirus but have been found to remove over 99.99% of the 12 most common airborne viruses and bacteria

No-one at BreezoMeter thinks an air purifier is a better option than the official advice provided by the World Health Organization, but it’s good to see leading air purifier brands take steps in the right direction to protect us against future virus spreads as well as air pollution.

How Smart HVAC Brands May Help Protect Us in the Future 

Research has shown that higher humidity levels indoors can help to reduce the infectivity of influenza virus particles that are released by coughing. 

However, according to Condair - humidification specialists - out of date regulations mean that hospitals, offices and schools in countries such as the United Kingdom continue to experience dangerously low humidity levels especially at winter time - way below their recommendation of above +40%RH. 

The good news is that smart home technologies and more intelligent HVAC and air purifier systems that ensure healthier air indoors are becoming more and more common - and relative humidity is an aspect that leading brands, such as Aldes, take into consideration.   

Aldes Smart Ventilation

According to a report from Zion Market Research, the global smart HVAC market was valued at $8.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $28.3 billion by 2025, amounting to an astounding 19% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2025. These are signs that while our indoor spaces aren’t fully healthy yet, the market is moving there. 

In Summary

Based on the urgency of the situation we’re facing in terms of the Coronavirus outbreak,  most of our indoor spaces are probably not completely ready to defend against viruses, based on current available information.

However, if there is any good to come from our global experience with COVID-19 so far, it will lead to increased pressure for improved building regulation as well as new technology that protects our indoor air from  pollution as well as virus contamination. 


Disclaimer: The information in this article was accurate to the best of our knowledge when we published it. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data will have changed since then. While BreezoMeter will try to keep articles as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to  stay informed with news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO and local public health department resources.

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