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DEFENDERS: Experts explain benefits of air purification machines to slow the spread of COVID-19


With the colder weather months here, more people will be spending time inside. Some might be looking at what options they have to slow the spread of COVID-19 in homes. One of those options might be an air purification system or machine.  

According to the EPA when used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space. 

Dave Alburty has been an aerosol scientist for 30 years and tells ABC 17 News having a good air filtration system in your home or business is beneficial, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“You can reduce COVID-19 particles, if they’re in there, because they (particles) are exhaled  it’s going to trap them,” Alburty said. “It’s not going to kill them per say but it’s going to dry them out.”

The EPA says when an air cleaner is used along with other best practices recommended by the CDC, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors. 

In order for an air cleaner to be effective, it needs to remove small airborne particles. Alburty said homeowners need to look for air purifier machines labeled as a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Alburty said this kills about 99 percent of particles in the air. 

“There’s no guarantees, and nothing is 100% but the more you can just reduce that a little bit. You know those things multiply together to reduce the risk. So it would be a really good idea.” 

Alburty said the filters inside the machines last several years. 

If buying an air purifier isn’t in your budget, a simple thing like opening the windows helps.

Air purification systems in airplanes 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging American’s to try and stay home during the holidays and avoid travel. However, if you do decide to travel wearing a mask inside a plane is extremely important, Alburty said. He also added that many studies suggest the risk of contracting coronavirus from an airplane is very low. 

“Airplanes have really, really good air filtration," Alburty said. "The air pulls through underneath, then filters and it comes into the cabin from the back. So sitting in the back is where the best air is."

Air purification systems in classrooms

As schools continue to look at safe options to get their students back into classrooms. Air purification systems throughout school buildings has also been an option.

Alburty said typically schools have good air systems that can kill viruses in the air. "Larger air systems like schools have also had the ability to put in UV or other kids of additions to help kill bacteria and not just COVID-19, but flu, and other air viruses."

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Deborah Kendrick

Deborah is a weekday evening anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 17 News.


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