Are Air Purifiers any good for airborne Particles, Allergens and Viruses? – COVID-19 or Coronavirus
Air filters do work and can greatly reduce the toxins in the air we breathe. I have learned a lot about air filters over the years and I have used probably every kind of system in my woodworking shop. But here I want to investigate the practical use of a home-based filtration system and their effectiveness at removing toxins including viruses.
Why did I invest in an Air Purifier?
I am constantly being told that I need to be careful in the workshop and wear a dust mask or I will get sick. I do wear a face mask but what about the house?
Have you ever watched the sun stream in the window catching onto airborne dust? I soon realised that I was breathing it in. Also, my woodworking workshop is attached to the house which gets carried into the house.
When we considered purchasing an air filter it was not because of the current Coronavirus situation but because we felt it could help with the fine dust situation in our home.
After some information, I read in an article on NASA research into the effectiveness on HEPA filters I am now convinced in the benefits of using true HEPA filters for the filtering of viruses.
Coronavirus and my Air Purifier
Risk of contracting Covid-19 is low but many people are understandably concerned about the potential risks. Contact infection is actually not an easy method of contracting this virus compared with direct inhalation of contaminated vapour. The virus wants to get into your respiratory system as this is where it propagates. The reason it is important is that respiratory illnesses are spread through coughs and sneezes but also via physical contact. This is why handwashing is imperative.
Covid-19 is very real in 2020 and probably beyond! while we wait for those boffins to stir their cauldrons and magic up that Vaccine. Air purifiers can help capture viruses that are carried on water droplets. NASA has performed extensive tests on HEPA and it’s ability to filter viruses and it’s ability to protect astronauts. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to lmearn more about air purifiers capacity to filter a virus.
Coronavirus is serious to our health but to try and put a smile on your face watch
Do air purifiers remove odors?
Yes, it is true to say that some air purifiers air filters can remove odors. If you want your new air purifier to remove odors then the filter must have an activated carbon stage.
To make a good air filter choice you need to know what kind of odor you want to remove.
Pollutants are trapped in the pore structure of the carbon. Carbon can trap pollutants from the air or water.
That nose clip can be left in the drawer if you get yourself an activated carbon filter
Smells that are common in the home
- Dirty laundry
- Stagnant Air
- Tobacco Smoke
Activated Carbon filters are well known for their ability to reduce smells. They are not perfect but they do work and if you allow them to work long enough.
What kind of filter can remove allergens?
Dust mite allergens can become airborne. True HEPA filters can filter out allergens. The Levoit air purifier traps allergens in it’s HEPA filter and we have noticed our asthma is far less of a problem.
Allergens are case dependent and what triggers me to have an attack might be different from the next person. The fine dust that is all around us consists of some pretty nasty stuff from dead skin to poo!
Conditions such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, bronchial asthma and conjunctivitis affect over 15 million people in Europe. Scientists have for years researching the effects of allergens on the human body especially the respiratory system.
Allergens in the home can vary greatly depending on the environment. Our homes vary greatly, for instance, I live in an old French farmhouse surrounded by farmland. As a result pollen is a problem and it is virtually impossible to prevent entering where we live.
Our only option is to control the levels of pollen and other allergens in the air mechanically. This is one of the reasons why we decided to install a True HEPA home filter unit and we are glad we did.
high filtration of the included cartridge filter in most air purifiers can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns such as:
- Pet fur
- Insect excrement
- Viruses (depends on the virus and how it is transmitted)
- Covid-19 / Coronavirus if carried by water droplets
Types of air filters
There are many different types of air filter for different situations
Prefilters are designed to trap larger dust particles and hair before it reaches the main fine filter. Prefilters can be just a simple gauze or woven filter medium.
Which filter for smells?
Reducing the lingering smell from these culprits is desirable. It is well known that Carbon has the ability to absorb chemical odours. Filter mediums impregnated with activated carbon have the unique ability to absorb these smells when contaminated air passes through it.
Which air filter is best for allergies?
The EPA recognises HEPA filters as suitable for allergy sufferers. HEPA filters are capable of filtering very fine airborne particles down to 0.3 microns.
Are Air purifiers worth the money?
Whether an air purifier is worth the money depends on your needs and if the air filter actually filters what it is designed to. If you are like me and suffer from allergens then you will know how bad the allergies can become.
You can spend a lot of money on an air purifier but it is not necessary as there are other options instead of Rentokil Ion filters. Levoit Air Purifiers and some other offerings are very capable and a practical solution to filter the air in most homes
My Video on the Levoit LV-H133 and how I cleaned the video
What Air Purifiers do I own?
Between me and my son, we own three air purifiers. I have two installed in our home and my son has one in his flat to filter out allergens.
We have lived with the Levoit LV-H133 Tower HEPA Air Purifier for 6 months. Yes, this is true and yesterday I decided to clean the filter. Levoit recommends that we replace the filter but I have to admit this would make it less cost-effective. The cartridge filters for the LV-H133 are large and well made. As a precaution, I made an additional prefilter from activated carbon cooker hood filter material glueing it into a tube using hot melt glue.
My son bought his LV-H132 8 months ago because he suffers from asthma. The LV-H132 is smaller than the LV-H133 and is ideal for a single room. He recently replaced the filter which was coated in a blanket of dust. So knitted together over the past few months by the powerful fan.
My sons air filter purifier in his bedroom. Matt has foud this unit most helpful to reduce allergy induduced asthma attacks.
I have this air purifier in our bedroom to filter fine dust particles and pathogens during the day. The Honati is a cheap alternative to the Levoit LV-H132 and should not be dismissed. I like this cheap room purifier as it has some good features. Being that we use it in the bedroom the 8hr timer is great so it turns off at night. The Honati has a cartridge filter similar to the Levoit LV-H133 but a lot smaller as it is a smaller unit. This air purifier is ideal for the average room. Like the LV-H133 you can also install a homemade prefilter from activated cooker hood filter material.
Can HEPA Air Purifiers Capture the Coronavirus?
The HEPA filter can help capture Coronavirus carried on moisture droplets but the space between the fibreglass strands is larger than Covid -19. This may answer the question but it is not necessarily the case. It is more complicated than just the size. HEPA filters are layered fibreglass and have areas which are finer than the stated 0.3 microns
What is the Size of Covid-19?
Covid-19 is not one uniform size but it is of multiple sizes of around 0.125 microns (for you brainiacs! 125 nanometers)
How do HEPA filters capture Covid-19
Covid-19 virus clings to HEPA filter strands during its trajectory? Covid-19 is carried from person to person via projected moisture such as spit, coughs and sneezes. The HEPA filter itself does not filter Covid – 19 in the way that the filter is designed.
Do viruses die in HEPA filter cartridges
Yes, the virus will die if it is allowed to dry on HEPA filter.
Things you can do to protect yourself against Coronavirus
- Wash you hands
- Sterilise your hands if washing is not practical
- Don’t touch you face
- Self Isolate
- Wear gloves in risky situations and dispose of after
- Clean shopping trolley handles with alcohol
- Do not touch ATM or card payment machines
- Social Distancing
My conclusion on HEPA Filters and Coronavirus
My installed air purifiers were purchased for other reasons other than the deadly Coronavirus. So if the efficiency is not enough to eliminate Coronavirus from the air my filters are not wasted money as these filters really improve the air but if they do filter the virus then it is a bonus. The best line of defence against Coronavirus is to practice high levels of personal hygiene.
What is dust?
Dust is not just artisan made sanding dust but we can carry tiny particles of all kinds from outside the home. Dust isn’t just from external sources but we also make some disgusting fine particles with our own bodies and other living creatures.
1. Dust is made from people!
Yes, dust contains people not tiny people but bits of people! Sounds ‘grose’ hey? Not quite like snakes but we shed skin all day long. This human dust is known as dead skin.
2. Dead human Skin feeds ‘dust mites’
Well those dust mites need to feed on something and they seem to enjoy ‘Dead Skin’. Luckily bed bugs prefer dead skin instead of humans so it is unlikely that dust mites will bite you.
3. Pets make dust too!
As a dog lover who allows our furry friends to take over our house. Our dogs and cats are also shedding skin just like me. But our pets don’t just shed flakes of dead skin cells but also dried saliva from licking everything. Pets that scratch and shake throw tin skin particles into the air. Yes these skin particles are airborne.
4. Bed bugs are not the only insects dying in our homes!
We all know about bed bugs but we don’t give all those spiders and wood fleas a second thought! Even modern homes are subjected to creepy crawlies. I have to admit that our old French farmhouse has more insect habitats that a German Huf Haus panel built home.
5.How much dust does the average house collect?
A three bedroom house can accumulate 40lbs or 18kg of fine particle dust but can be a lot more. If you think that is not too much, remember dust is very light. 18 KG of normal house dust can compare to about 40 hoover bags full of dead skin.
6. What percentage of dust is skin?
Now this is a gross fact… average house dust can contain 80% of dried human skin which could be scabby or acne riddled. You worry about that Grannies Urn when your house probably contains more dead people?
7. Dust contains allergens causing breathing problems but what dust is the culprit
Dust mites are a major respiratory trigger but they are not the only allergen hidden within the fine dust. Asthma is the most common reaction to dust allergens but this attack can also be caused by animal dander. My Son Stephon has animal allergies which would cause serious eye inflammation. He had a spot allergy test at the dermatology specialists which found that grass and animal were his worst triggers to his allergy.
8. Why is Dust a huge problem for Woodworkers?
As a person who works with wood on a daily basis you can appreciate we subject ourselves to large volumes of wood dust. Why is wood dust an issue? Well, some timbers are known carcinogens such as Oak. Oak is a Group 2 carcinogen. But it is not just the wood itself but also the adhesive used in modern sheet materials and also the glues used for joint work. We sand our wooden products and often sand the glue itself. The glue I use is Cascamite, a urea formaldehyde powdered wood glue which is mixed with water. Urea Formaldehyde is also a known Carcinogen.
9.Bed Bugs vs Dust Mites
Dust mites are very small Arachnids so are related to spiders, ticks,crabs, and lobsters and live anywhere where there is accumulated fine skin cell based dust. If your home is humid and dusty you may be surprised to know that you might be sharing your home with hundreds of thousands of these little skin munchers. These tiny little skin recyclers are converting your skin into poo and wee. It doesn’t end there as dust mites are a baby factory expanding their family tree by thousands of babies.
Dust mite Poop causes coughs and sneezes! Dust Mites Poop as many as 20 droppings a day so times that by hundreds of thousands.
10.Get rid of your carpets!
This is obvious but carpet is a BUG HOTEL and should be avoided. If you are not ready to give up on that carpet make sure you vacuum it with a HEPA rated hoover. Regular steam cleaning can kill dust mites and bed bugs. Also move all sofas and other furniture and clean there too and arm you vac with that crevice tool and such that crap away from the edges too. Dust Mite Facty: a square yard of carpet can be a bug hotel for as many 120,000 mummy, daddy and baby mites!
11.Mold can become airborne
Mold spores are fungi which love humidity. The spores and fine and light and easily can be made airborn by a brush, hoover or wind. Mold or mildew spores are a serious problem for allergy sufferers and should be dealt with in the home. Bathrooms and other areas which have damp stagnant air are ideal environments which mold will thrive. A suitable air conditioning dehumidifier is a must if you have mold problems. Most Dehumidifiers have moisture meters and are very helpful for removing moisture from the air. Remember if you are using dehumidifiers that the windows and door should be shut.
Mold hates dry air that is moving, so a fan could help.
12.Mattresses can contain 1,000,000 dust mites, urghh
It shouldn’t surprise you that your mattress is favoured by dust mites. We are a dust mite factory! Yes we sleep on our bed and shed that skin which feeds those dust mites. A mattress cover will help but won’t kill your infestation.
13. Do HEPA air purifiers remove dust from the home?
Yes the true HEPA filter as found on the Levoit LV-H132 or the Levoit LV-H133 is a great way to reduce fine particle allergens from our homes.
Will an air purifier remove 100% of dust from our home? An air purifier will remove 99% of dust from the air that passes through it. If you consider that the LV-H133 can push 400m2 per hour through the 3 stage true HEPA that is 400m2 of clean air more than you had before.
Any air purifier only filters dust particles from the air which is airborne
MY Conclusion on Dust in the Home and Workshop
I am a culprit in that I have taken very little notice of the risk contained in the tiny particles that we subject ourselves too. If working in my woodshop subjecting my self to copious amounts of fine wood dust wasn’t enough to deal with I am now very aware of the risks that are lurking in our homes. All the information can feel a bit scary but it is something we can take some control of. Simple steps to protect our health could be the wearing of a dust mask or the placement of a good air purifier but more importantly good working practices and simple hygeine measures.
Check out my blog on dust masks and viruses
By Marcus Kett, Woodworking since 1989
Woodworking for me is in my blood as a son of a traditional boatbuilder. My Father Malcolm Kett was highly skilled and inventive individual often referred to as ‘Malcolm The Boat’.
Although I have spent a considerable portion of my life seeking further education and gaining qualifications in woodworking, electrical installations, bricklaying and to top it a degree in photography.
Yes, it is a medley of possible career choices but the one that I felt truly at home with was Woodworking. Woodworking has been my staple career choice that has given my family stability.
Why do I write these guides?
We started to write these guides to help our customers. The idea was to provide the information needed to install our made to measure wooden products that we sell on this website and directly to our local customers.
We soon received feedback from people abroad and interested readers not local to us. I like to help people and I am excited that fellow woodworkers or keen DIYers found guidance in my articles. I intend to carry on writing and producing youtube videos for the purpose of providing useful content. Please share our blog with your friends and anyone that could find interest in the magic of working with wood.
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We have lived and worked here in the Limousin Nouvelle Aquitaine since 2010, building window shutters and external doors. Our Volet manufacturing business is based at our home property as a ‘Cottage Industry’. We are a small business operating partly (60%) off the grid and try our best to practice our woodworking ethically.
How did we come up with the trading name ‘Wallybois’? Well, it is simple really, my best buddy ‘Wally’ and the fact that ‘Bois’ is French for wood and we live in France.
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Thank You for visiting
By Marcus Kett, Woodworking since 1989
Based in the Nouvelle Aquitaine of France