Do Air and HVAC Filters Protect from Viruses?

When used correctly, air and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a small building or space. Cleaning or filtering the air alone is not enough to protect people from COVID-19. To keep you and your building safe, it is important to understand the capabilities of air filtration and the other measures you can take to protect yourself. Can building air filtration protect me from contracting COVID-19? What filter should I use to protect people in my building from COVID-19? Why shouldn't you use the most efficient filter you can find? I know hospitals have good filtration, why don't we all use systems like these? What about ultraviolet (UV) lamps? Do they work? What about portable air filters? Doesn't filtration require droplets that cause COVID-19 to be in the air? I've heard that these are large droplets, what precautions should I take when changing filters? What about ionizers, ozone generators, plasma and other air cleaning technologies? Where can I go for more information? The answer to the first question is yes, building air filtration can help reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. The type of filter you should use depends on the size of the space and the type of contaminants you are trying to remove. For example, a MERV 16 filter is the tallest filter available and is effective at capturing particles as small as 0.3 microns.

However, it may not be suitable for all air conditioning systems. It is important to remember that no single technology can provide complete protection from COVID-19. The most effective way to reduce your risk of infection is to follow public health guidelines such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand washing. Additionally, it is important to understand the limitations of any air cleaning technology you are considering. For example, some products on the market generate ions, reactive oxidative species (ROS), or chemicals in the air as part of their air cleaning process.

People in spaces treated with these products are also exposed to these ions, ROS, or chemicals. Therefore, it is important to research any product before purchasing it and make sure it meets safety standards. It is also important to remember that unsubstantiated claims of performance or limited case studies with a single device in a room and without reference controls should be challenged. Additionally, when considering purchasing and using products with technology that can generate ozone, make sure that the equipment meets UL 867 certification for acceptable levels of ozone production or preferably UL 2998 certification for zero ozone emissions from air purifiers.

Finally, it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest research regarding COVID-19 transmission and consult relevant government guidance when making decisions about air filtration and other safety measures. By following these guidelines and understanding the capabilities of air filtration systems, you can help reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.