Air purifiers and humidifiers have become the hottest, most difficult to find, must-haves since paper towels, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. If COVID-19 cases continue to grow this winter, these products will become impossible to find.
Why? The virus that causes COVID-19 feeds off the dry air and low humidity. That describes most homes in the northern half of the country throughout the winter season. Insert a wood fireplace or wood stove for heat and viral particles are quickly like a house guest that never leaves. A humidifier helps eliminate the dry air in your home, while also making it easier to sleep and breathe.
With air purifiers, the EPA says air cleaners and HVAC filters on forced-air heating systems can’t independently protect anyone from catching COVID-10. But: “When used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others,” the EPA says, “filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors.”
The Need for a Humidifier
A study performed by the University of Sydney & the Fudan University School of Public Health in Shanghai, China estimated that for every 1% decrease in humidity, COVID-19 cases can surge by 7-8%. A 10% drop in humidity could double COVID-19 contaminations, the researchers said in a study published in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.
Floating particles are smaller in dry air and lower relative humidity. Infectious particles produced by sneezing or coughing remain in the air for a longer period of time, increasing the risk of contact with other individuals. Increasing the humidity makes the particles both larger and denser, causing them to fall and land on hard surfaces.
“This suggests the need for people to wear a mask,” said Dr. Michael Ward, whose leading the study, “both to prevent infectious aerosols escaping into the air in the case of an infectious individual, and exposure to infectious aerosols in the case of an uninfected individual.”
The Need for an Air Purifier
Try to find an air purifier with mechanical filtration, with an included HEPA filter to capture airborne particles. Most HEPA filters remove 99.7% of elements that measure .3 microns or bigger. Viral particles typically measure 0.1 microns or smaller, but when airborne particles cling to bigger water droplets or another transporter.
Duke University scholars developed an online calculator that helps students and teachers measure their COVID-19 possibility based on physical measurements of a specific college classroom, the number of students, the number of person-to-person classes, and several other variables. The model calculates the likely focus of the Covid-19 floating particles. The calculator’s unknown element is air purification. An air filtration system in the room, according to the calculator, can reduce the opportunity of infection to 1% from 13% to 14% in a room with no air filtration system in place.
Indoor assemblies are much more dangerous than outdoor settings, where the air is fresh, humidity is high and the sun have limited COVID-19’s spread in Connecticut this past summer. The challenges we faced in March could be a much more likely preview of the upcoming winter season.
As we get closer to the winter, the same rules will apply limit social interaction and spreading of the virus: social distance, wear a mask and good hand washing.
Not feeling well? Call your primary care physician for direction and avoid going to an emergency department, as this could increase the chances you catching or possibly spreading the disease.