With students returning to class and employees returning to in-person environments, it's crucial that we invest in equipment that helps keep our air clean. Here's why you should invest in an air purifier (and what to look for when shopping for one).
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Transmission via surfaces vs. particles in the air
Did you know that all of the COVID-19 virus particles in the world can fit in a single soda can? Estimated at only around 80-120 nanometers (or about 0.1 microns) in diameter, it's crazy to think about how something so small can have such a drastic impact on our lives. To put that in perspective, that's about 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
As we've discovered more recently, these particles pose more of a threat to us suspended in the air that we breathe than by spreading on surfaces (although it's still a great idea to give things a wipe down).
"As evidence has accumulated over the course of the pandemic, scientific understanding about the virus has changed. Studies and investigations of outbreaks all point to the majority of transmissions occurring as a result of infected people spewing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols when they cough, talk or breathe. These can be directly inhaled by people close by. Surface transmission, although possible, is not thought to be a significant risk" notes Dyani Lewis, a freelance science journalist for Nature.com.
The CDC confirms that most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are being exposed through respiratory droplets in the air. The CDC describes respiratory droplets as being "produced during exhalation (e.g., breathing, speaking, singing, coughing, sneezing) and span a wide spectrum of sizes that can be divided into two basic categories based on how long they can remain suspended in the air:
- Larger droplets some of which are visible and that fall out of the air rapidly within seconds to minutes while close to the source.
- Smaller droplets and particles (formed when small droplets dry very quickly in the airstream) that can remain suspended for many minutes to hours and travel far from the source on air currents."
The Problem with Being Indoors
As facilities start to reopen for in-person attendance, we need to take a hard look at the air that we're sharing with our fellow classmates and colleagues indoors. In indoor situations, standard HVAC and ventilation just aren't enough to effectively remove harmful particles (such as COVID-19) from the air.
Here's what you should know when considering sending your child back to class or returning to the office:
- Viruses, bacteria and contaminants can linger in the air for up to 3 hours
- Students are in classrooms, libraries and other spaces for extended periods of time, increasing their risk of exposure.
- The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health recommends increasing ventilation, filtering indoor air and supplementing with portable air cleaners. "Devices that simply recirculate the same indoor air without filtering it or replacing it with fresh air are not helping in reducing any airborne virus present in the room."
- Even prior to COVID-19, research shows that attendance and academic performance drops in poorly-ventilated schools.
Not only does investing in a decent air filtration system help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it also helps improve the occupants overall health and performance. According to the UCDavis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, "Research has found that increased ventilation rates are associated with increased student performance, improved respiratory health, increased student attendance, and lower risk of transmission of airborne infectious diseases."
EduAir is a True Medical HEPA filtration system that was developed according to the Harvard Risk Reduction and CDC systems guidelines for hospital isolation rooms. Here's how it works:
1. Large Particle Pre-filter: removes particles easily seen by the eye (e.g. dust, hair and pet dander)
2. Medium Particle Pre-filter: Removes small to medium size particles (e.g. molds, spores and pollen)
3. 15 lbs. of Activated Carbon and Zeolite: Removes chemicals, gases and odors.
4. 60 sq. ft. of Certified HEPA: Removes 99.97% of all particles sized at 0.3 microns. (0.3 microns is the most difficult particle size to capture). This true HEPA filtration is the same that is used to protect clean rooms and hospitals.
What to Know When Shopping for a Quality Air Purifier:
1. CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate): The CADR is the rate at which an air filtration unit provides filtered air. EduAir has a CADR of 400 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Recommended CADR is 150-400 CFM.
2. Understanding HEPA Filters and Micron Size. "A common misconception is that the smaller the particulate, the more difficult it is to capture. This is not true. The most difficult particulate to capture is sized at 0.3 microns, which is why HEPA filters are rated for that micron size and are 99.97% efficient. Viruses are roughly 0.1 micron in diameter. At this micron size, HEPA filters are 99.995% efficient." Always look for true medical grade HEPA filtration.
3. 360-Degree Progressive filtering system. The EduAir takes in air from all sides of the purifier and passes it through a 4-stage filter. The result is more clean air delivered faster and more efficiently than any other air cleaner on the market.
Tap here to shop portable air purifiers.
How are you staying safe during the pandemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!