How air purifiers work to fight the flu

When used correctly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne bacteria and viruses, such as: COVID-19 and the flu – but they are not guaranteed protection.

Viruses spread when an infected person exhales small aerosol particles, coughs or sneezes into the air.

A good air purifier can help by filtering out most of the bacteria that remain in a room.

Airborne COVID-19 and flu particles can be caught by some air purifiers. (Getty)

But it’s worth noting that air purifiers aren’t going to clean the air throughout the house, they just filter the air in the room they work in — all depending on size.

Hygiene standards are still the best preventive measure against flu and COVID-19.

Home Air Purifiers – How Do They Work and How Much Do They Cost?

There are a variety of air purifiers designed specifically for homes, but they can also be quite pricey – some of the bigger brands start from around $1000 for a standard air purifier.

So how does $1000 worth of technology crammed into a plastic box keep the air in your home fresh and “pure”?

In simple terms, air purifiers draw air into the machine’s filters to remove particulate matter, such as dust, pet hair, smoke, bad odors, bacteria, viruses and more, before releasing clean air back into the room.

The electronics brand Mitsubishi Electric offers a number of HEPA-based air purification models for home use. (Mitsubishi)

These air purifiers draw in hundreds of cubic meters (m3/h) of air every hour, filter it through the machine and blow “purified air” back into the room.

Most air filters work the same way, but what you really pay for is the filter quality.

There are multiple filters in the unit to ensure nothing gets past, most of these filters can be replaced or cleaned.

The main filter component used to fight bacteria and viruses is known as the HEPA filter or “high-efficiency particulate air” filter

Multiple filters, including carbon and HEPA filters, trap dust, bacteria and viruses. (Mitsubishi)

No home air purifier with HEPA filters claims to be 100 percent effective, most HEPA filters can trap particles as small as 0.3 m, which is equivalent to 300 nanometers.

For some extra perspective, a nanometer is about a billionth of a meter, and your standard coronavirus particle is about 100 nanometers.

Particles can stay in the air for hours at a time, so using an air purifier with a HEPA filter can help immensely in dealing with prolonged sneezing or coughing.

Portable air purifiers – what are they?

Portable air purifiers are an entirely new concept, recently introduced by vacuum cleaner leaders Dyson.

It’s certainly an interesting piece of technology, and not something you’d expect from a company like Dyson, but they did it anyway.

Dyson says that six years and 500 prototypes later, they are finally ready to show the world their latest technological advancement.

Dyson’s portable air purifier doubles as headphones. (dyson)

As for the design, Dyson says they took their inspiration from a horse saddle.

Despite the air-purifying attachment being an important part of the design, it’s detachable and Dyson says you can just use the Dyson Zone as normal headphones.

How does the portable air purifier work?

Compressors in the earcups draw air through layered filters and project two streams of purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth, all guided by the non-contact visor.

Dyson engineers used a mock-up of a human including mechanical lungs to test the headphones. (Delivered)

The visor ensures that the purified airflow is kept close to the nose and mouth, and Dyson says this ensures that the air is diluted as little as possible by the wind.

The device has four air purification modes: low, medium, high and automatic, which can be synchronized with the user’s breathing.

Dyson has not yet confirmed how much something like this will cost, but we can imagine it will be considered a premium product.

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