Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and mold are the most common cause of disease on this planet. These invisible organisms affect our bodies in ways we cannot even imagine. Different modes of transport of these microorganisms include physical contact, contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs and even the air.
Consistent handwashing, use of sanitizers, and consistently cleaning a surface can dramatically lower the risk of transmission. Transmission can occur through contact between people, droplet transmissions in the air or on a surface, and airborne transmission. Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided a growing list of materials with action items that can help to reduce the spread of disease in an area.
One of the most common means of transmission of these microorganisms is through the air. Pathogens can remain suspended in the air for hours and even days. The recent epidemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 all over the world is the perfect example. The virions of this virus are capable of surviving in the air in the form of larger ‘respiratory droplets’ or smaller ‘aerosols’ sneezed and coughed out by infected people. These droplets and aerosols, when inhaled by healthy people, then go on to infect others and the cycle continues. Aerosol transmission or transmission through inhalation of respiratory droplets can occur in indoor settings, particularly in areas which are not adequately ventilated. In indoor group gatherings with poor ventilation, infected people are more prone to transmit the pathogen to others.
Recently, protecting ourselves from getting infected by viruses has gained prime importance as the novel coronavirus epidemic has wreaked havoc on health systems all around the world. Cold weather and the spread of the virus all over the world, coupled with the lockdowns and outdoor restrictions imposed by the governments have forced people to stay indoors. As a result, there has arisen a greater need to disinfect homes, offices, and places where people congregate. Coronavirus particles, which can be transmitted to healthy people through the air, can make people sick if the home and office spaces are not adequately disinfected.
Disease-causing bacteria and mold can also spread easily through the air. Having inadequate ventilation, broken or inadequate air filtration and purification systems, or dirty air conditioners may also speed up the spread of dangerous pathogens such as mold. Mold and mildew in rooms can cause the air to smell foul and can cause symptoms such as headaches, runny nose, wheezing, coughing and difficulty sleeping. People with asthma or allergies to mold can have more severe reactions. Mold not only causes health problems, but can also damage woodwork, walls, furniture and foundational framework within buildings, weakening them from within. An effective and efficient air purification system can filter out dangerous pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and mold.
If the mold patch exceeds 10 square feet, you should call professionals experienced with mold control. Fixing the problem (i.e. a faulty tap, or drain) at the source first is crucial for long-term mold control, prior to using an air purifier. If you can't locate the source (e.g. a leaking sink or faulty plumbing), call a professional. While a high quality air purifier can remove mold spores from the air, it cannot scrape the mold off surfaces, which will continue to cause odors if left untreated.
An effective air purifier for bacteria, viruses, and mold, needs to be able to filter out a large percentage of these very small microorganisms from the air. To obtain an idea of how small these particles are, here’s a comparison. Pollen particles, visible to the eye, are approximately 30 microns, while mold spores are 20 microns. Bacteria are approximately 1 micron, while the coronavirus is even smaller, at 0.125 microns.
A high efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter is an important component of a high-quality air purifier that can effectively remove tiny microorganisms from the air. HEPA was a standard defined and developed by the U.S. Department of Energy during the 1940s as part of their efforts to contain the spread of particles and contamination resulting from nuclear testing. To meet the HEPA standard, the filter must remove 99.97% or more of all particles which are 0.3 microns (micrometers) in diameter. This means for every 10,000 particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter, only three particles can pass through.
There are different types of HEPA filters. Be cautious about air purifiers with “HEPA like” and “HEPA Type” filters. These filters do not meet HEPA standards defined above, and are lower quality air purifiers which cannot remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns and larger in diameter.
There are also different grades of HEPA filters. True HEPA ranges from H10-H12. H10-H12 HEPA filters remove 85 – 99.5% of all particles that are 0.1 microns in diameter and above. H13 – H14 HEPA filters are within the highest tier of HEPA filters and trap 99.95% and 99.995% of particles 0.1 microns in diameter and above.
Medical grade HEPA filters are generally within the highest tier of HEPA filters. They are used in hospital environments, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare clinics which there is an increased risk of bacteria or virus transmission.
For effective filtration of viruses, bacteria, and mold, we recommend choosing an air purifier with a medical grade HEPA filter. Be cautious about buying cheaper air purifiers at your local store that have lack or have lower quality HEPA filters.
Some air purifiers offer ultraviolent light. This additional step can provide another layer of reassurance that every effort is made to remove bacteria, viruses and mold. The UV-C light in Ultraviolet light destroys the genetic material (DNA and RNA) of viruses and bacteria. The UV-C light also effectively neutralizes mold spores by damaging the DNA.
Our top recommendations for air purifiers to effectively remove bacteria, viruses and mold include air purifiers with high quality medical grade HEPA filters that can effectively remove remove small microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and viruses. SuperHEPA filters offer even more powerful filtration. Air Pura's superHEPA filters remove 99.99% of particles 0.3 microns and above, and Aller Air's superHEPA filters are extremely powerful filters, removing 99.99% of particles 0.1 microns in size and above. For reference, the size of pollen is approximately 30 microns, mold is 20 microns and most bacteria approximately 1 micron. The coronavirus is 0.125 microns. Most medical-grade HEPA filters remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns and above or 95% or particles 0.1 microns in size and above.
Also we highly recommend UV light with germicidal activity as it offers an additional layer of protection. The UV-C light kills the DNA of viruses and bacteria, and neutralizes mold spores. Here are our top recommendations:
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