As the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) makes its way around the globe, people are looking for ways to help prevent its spread. While media headlines and public health officials have promoted the need for hand washing and quarantine, little has been said about the role air purifiers could play in preventing transmission.
Coronavirus is a label given to a group of viruses. There are many different types of viruses in the group. Some are associated with the common cold, while others can cause more serious illness. SARS-CoV-2 is a newly identified coronavirus. This is the virus that has shut down much of the world and spread a serious respiratory illness called COVID-19.
Although researchers are still learning about how the virus spreads, observations show it is transferred through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks.
The virus itself is tiny, measuring only about 0.125 microns (a micron is 1/1,000th of a millimetre). However, the droplets the virus initially travels in are much larger, typically measuring around 1 micron.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that all healthcare workers wear N95 respirator masks to protect them from contracting COVID-19. These protective respiratory devices achieve a much closer facial fit than standard face masks. The “N95” designation means the respirator is tested to filter at least 95% of test particles measuring 0.3 microns. When properly fitted, N95 respirators filter airborne particles very efficiently.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) media has a higher standard of particle filtration than an N95 mask. According to NASA, HEPA media effectively filters nanoparticles as tiny as approximately 0.015 microns in diameter.
HEPA filters are highly effective at catching particles much smaller than the average virus. Since the novel coronavirus measures 0.125 microns, this suggests HEPA media is capable of filtering the virus from the air.
NASA pairs HEPA material with granular activated carbon for particle absorption in space shuttle cabins. Granular activated carbon is carbon that has been specially processed to create small pores. The pores increase the carbon’s surface area and increase its ability to absorb particles.
High Efficiency Gas Arresting (HEGA) material is a special woven activated carbon cloth. HEGA material was recognized for its potent antiviral qualities through research conducted by the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency.
The technology used in HEGA material was originally developed for military applications to protect personnel from a variety of chemical, biological, and nuclear hazards. Military-grade HEGA Carbon Cloth is one of the most absorptive materials on the face of the planet. With its incredibly large surface area, it easily absorbs a wide range of chemicals, gases, viruses, and bacteria.
A HEPA air filtration system would be a smart addition to your family’s coronavirus safety precautions, especially for those stuck indoors for long periods of time.
Also, if you have a family member with COVID-19, or a healthcare worker self-quarantining for the family’s safety, using an air purifier in the quarantine room could help protect the rest of the family.
Austin Air uses four stage filtration which includes HEGA Carbon Cloth and a full 60 square feet of HEPA material in its Allergy Machine HM405 and Bedroom Machine HM402.
The HEPA material delivers comprehensive particulate removal, while the HEGA cloth removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and offers protection against viruses. The HEPA media in Austin Air filters is true medical grade with the highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value available (MERV-17).
The HealthMate HM400 and HealthMate Plus HM450 also feature 60 square feet of HEPA media and packed beds of granular carbon (15 pounds), both of which are used in the cabin filtration systems of NASA spacecraft.
The Allergy Machine, The Bedroom Machine, HealthMate or HealthMate Plus would be a sensible addition to your coronavirus safety precautions.
Submicron and Nanoparticulate Matter Removal by HEPA-Rated Media Filters and Packed Beds of Granular Materials. Accessed April 1, 2020. Available at: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170005166.pdf
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