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Consumer Reports: Can air purifiers kill COVID-19 in your home?

Posted at 8:46 AM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 09:46:46-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — With all of the talk about the coronavirus and droplets in the air, you may have wondered whether air purifiers might help. So, Consumer Reports took a look at purifiers to see if they might really make a difference in your home.

Running an air purifier is a good idea to keep dust, smoke and other allergens at bay inside your home. But, if someone in your home is sick, can an air purifier help? Consumer Reports says the answer isn’t 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, Consumer Reports’ chief science officer.

The HEPA filters in most residential air purifiers are certified to capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 micron 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. 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,” said Dickerson.

CR says along with the use of an air purifier, people should continue to practice social distancing, wear protective face masks, and follow other guidelines provided by the CDC.

An $830 air purifier from BlueAir is the best and fastest air purifier in CR’s particle reduction tests. However, it’s pricey and noisy at its highest speed. For less money, consider the Honeywell. It scores "Excellent" and "Very Good" ratings at its highest speed and lower speed, respectively.

Consumer Reports says you can find out how fast an air purifier will clean your air by looking for its CADR – clean air delivery rate. That should be somewhere on the box. They say you want a model that has a CADR over 240.

You can also open your windows and allow some fresh air, which can also help clear the air in a room. Although, of course, it helps when it's not so cold outside.