Can air cleaning devices that use bipolar ionization, including portable air cleaners and in-duct air cleaners used in HVAC systems, protect me from COVID-19?
Bipolar ionization (also called needlepoint bipolar ionization) is a technology that can be used in HVAC systems or portable air cleaners to generate positively and negatively charged particles. Provided manufacturers have data to demonstrate efficacy, manufacturers of these types of devices may market this technology to help remove viruses, including SARS-2-CoV, the virus that causes COVID-19, from the air, or to facilitate surface disinfection of surfaces within a treated area. This is an emerging technology, and little research is available that evaluates it outside of lab conditions. As typical of newer technologies, the evidence for safety and effectiveness is less documented than for more established ones, such as filtration. Bipolar ionization has the potential to generate ozone and other potentially harmful by-products indoors, unless specific precautions are taken in the product design and maintenance. If you decide to use a device that incorporates bipolar ionization technology, EPA recommends using a device that meets UL 2998 standard certification (Environmental Claim Validation Procedure (ECVP) for Zero Ozone Emissions from Air Cleaners).
Please note that there are many air cleaning devices that do not use bipolar ionization – the device packaging or marketing materials will typically indicate if bipolar ionization technology is being used.