Consumer Reports: Can an air purifier clean the air of COVID?

Concerns over the coronavirus have many people worrying about indoor air quality and wondering whether an air purifier can help, especially as we spend more time inside. Consumer Reports says the answer is not a simple yes, or no.

"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," said James Dickerson, CR's chief science officer.

The HEPA filters in most residential air purifiers are certified to capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter. But the filters also capture both smaller and larger particles even more efficiently, including the coronavirus.

However, if someone in your home is sick, they should be isolated in a separate room with an air purifier. And even then, an air purifier isn't a cure-all.

"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, it's not going to eliminate ALL of the particles, nor will the filter capture virus that has landed on surfaces in the room," Dickerson said.

CR says along with using an air purifier, people should continue to practice social distancing, wear protective face masks, and follow other safety guidelines.

As far as air purifiers CR recommends? An $830 air purifier from BlueAir is the best and fastest, but it's pricey and noisy at its highest speed. For less money, one Honeywell scores "excellent" and "very good" ratings at its highest speed and lower speed, respectively.

CR says to choose a model with a CADR over 240. And don't forget, simply opening your windows can help clear the air in a room, too.
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