Air cleaning and COVID-19

With the spread of the UK and South African coronavirus variants to the U.S., with the concern over their being more contagious than the original strain, and with the disease-fighting anti-viral properties of the COVID vaccines believed to be less effective against the newer variant strains, less likely is the prospect of life getting back to what we are or were used to anytime soon. And, according to what I’ve heard and understand, that is unlikely to happen until what is called “herd immunity” occurs which comes at a point when between 70 and 85 percent of the population is fully vaccinated which, in this case means at present, both doses of the vaccination being received. I’m sure for one demographic in particular – the academic community (faculty, staff and students) – that time can’t come soon enough.

Even after the vaccines are administered, it is my understanding that face protection and physical distancing will still be required. What will also help in buildings like schools, libraries, etc., where people gather, such things as adequate air filtration and ventilation will be demanded, if not by everyone, then by the majority, presumably. Adequate air ventilation can mean nothing more than the opening of doors and windows.

Where weather conditions and/or air quality is a concern, this is where air filtration comes in.

Which brings this conversation to me as television watcher and receiver of on-air information-dispensing or dissemination. When something comes over the airwaves that has anything at all to do with air, you know that has my attention, be it a news item, mention in an entertaining program or show or even a commercial; maybe advertising even more so.

On that note, with the pandemic being first and foremost on people’s minds these days, I’ve been seeing a number of ads pitching sanitizing products, more so than usual or so it would seem.

An oft-repeated refrain in these spots is boasting, claiming, touting how effective the sanitizing products are in terms of their being effective in eliminating viruses and bacteria on surfaces upon contact with sanitizing agent. Ninety-nine or up to 99 percent effective seems to be the standard claim.

If true and provided advertised product not only has that kind of efficacy in killing common pathogens on contact but is equally effective in neutralizing the coronavirus disease, variants included, here again, this will help in the grand cleaning and sanitizing scheme.

Moving on, I now want to turn my attention to commercials promoting air-purification equipment. Just so you know, an entire post was previously devoted to just this very topic. Post title: “CATS: The inside scoop on inside air purifiers.”

Not very far into the air-purifier ad I saw this morning, what hit my ears I simply had a hard time believing. If I did in fact hear what I thought I did, emphasized was how effective the products being advertised were at eliminating airborne COVID-19 pathogens, at least one product even utilizing ozone to do this.

Wait, ozone?! As an air-purifying agent?! The product manufacturer (different than the business doing the advertising, presumably) does realize that ozone can and does cause damage to the lung when breathed in? Well, you would have thought. To me that makes no sense at all, its ability to suppress COVID-19 in indoor air notwithstanding.

For the time being anyway, it is perhaps best to just accept this for what it is and move on. In this case moving on meaning to conduct further investigative research to learn much more about this particular product and report back on my findings in a follow-up post.

That said, if these air purification products are truly effective at removing airborne COVID-19 pathogens indoors as well as other floating-in-air viruses and air toxicants, then it seems to me that these would be extremely useful and valuable devices to have, with at least every household having one.

While such product would not be a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine, it could, however, serve as a good backstop.

– Alan Kandel

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6 thoughts on “Air cleaning and COVID-19”

  1. Theoretically speaking, what you say is true; however, we do not have data, at least, sufficient data, to indicate that disinfectants will stop the spread of virus. The reason why I say this, is that virus have been on earth for billions of years and through serendipity and randomness, continue to proliferate and mutate by chance. But, with that said, we should not stop us from using disinfectants to help eradicate this dog gone disease. Though we will one day reach herd immunity, the Covid strain and it’s variants will continue to be with us, like the common cold and HIV and flu and all other strains of virus because that’s what nature does and is.

  2. That’s an interesting read, Alan! It is indeed difficult to confirm if air purification products are truly effective at removing airborne COVID-19 pathogens indoors. However, they do help in reducing air pollutants and minimizing respiratory illnesses. So, they might reduce the impact of this virus to a certain extent.

    • I’ve started looking into this further.

      As an aside, I watched an infomercial promoting an air purifier that appears to be making the claim that the product is more than 98 percent effective in terms of it removing what is referred to in the spot as airborne “porcine” COVID-19. Several different types of filters are apparently used in this air purifier.

      More related to the ozone uncertainty in the article above, I am now more inclined to believe that the device I had seen in the earlier-mentioned ad, removes indoor ozone rather than produces it. And, I read part of an article this morning about a study done to assess the effectiveness of eliminating thirdhand smoke from interior surfaces, fabrics, etc. using an ozone generator.

      • Make that, “airborne ‘porcine’ covid [coronavirus disease]” indoors, not “airborne ‘porcine’ COVID-19” as I originally wrote in my comment above. There are differences in coronavirus types.

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