Close-up of a woman drinking a cup of hot coffee

Can an air purifier protect you from coffee covid-19?

A symbol of the French art of window-dressing, cafés are renowned for being a place of conviviality and meetings. Enjoying a coffee with friends in the warmth of a cosy establishment is one of those small pleasures that many of us appreciate.

But now, with the recent covid-19 epidemic, many of us feel less comfortable or safe sitting next to others in an enclosed space. So how can we enjoy clean air and good coffee at the same time?

How is the virus spread through the air?

The virus cannot spread without a carrier. It is transmitted through the respiratory droplets of an infected person: by coughing, sneezing, talking or singing. The virus is therefore transmitted in two ways:

Droplet transmission :

  • Droplets from an infected person: by coughing, sneezing, talking or singing.
  • Size: 5 to 10 microns, settles quickly.
  • Type of infection: close contact, usually within one metre of the source.

Airborne transmission :

  • Smaller aerosols (droplet nuclei) from an infected person coughing, sneezing, talking or singing.
  • Size: less than 5 microns, floats in the air for a long time.
  • Type of infection: the contagious aerosol can travel long distances carried by air currents.

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Can air cleaners trap viruses?

Technically, the answer to this question is: yes. To achieve this, air cleaners use HEPA filters to block airborne particles. In addition, maintenance of HEPA filters is quite easy and will not take much time.

It is important to note that HEPA filters can trap or remove 99.97 % of pollutants greater than or equal to 0.3 microns in size. This type of filter is made up of pleated fibres that form a veritable labyrinth for the air when it is drawn through them. Since the covid-19 virus is spherical with a diameter of 0.12 microns, when it is sucked into a HEPA filter, there is very little chance that it will not be captured.

In addition to HEPA filters, another technology that helps remove particles from the air is the ioniser. This technology works by releasing negative ions that attach to particles and droplets, removing them from the air. However, it should be noted that the rate of virus removal by an ioniser is zero. It does not remove the particles from the room, but merely causes the particles and droplets to fall to the floor, walls and furniture.

Close-up of UV-C lamps for sterilisation

In summary An air purifier with a HEPA filter or a UV lamp filter can protect you from covid-19, but to a limited extent. The air purification using plasma technology is also a solution, but the best protection is to respect the barrier gestures and to use a mask whether in the café or elsewhere.