Coronavirus And HVAC: We Can Help!

Coronavirus And HVAC: We Can Help!

March 31, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread by person-to-person contact and coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Coronavirus can survive on surfaces for an extended period of time.

Even the most powerful air purifiers can only capture particles as small as 0.1 microns or larger, and the vast majority of air purifiers will only capture particles 0.3 microns or larger.

Mold, pollen, and pet dander are all larger and can be caught and eliminated by a standard HEPA filter. 

Viruses are roughly 100 times smaller than bacteria, and typically range from 0.004 to 0.1 microns in size. This means even the best, most efficient  air filters wouldn’t necessarily clear the air of viruses.

COVID-19 belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses. The 2013 SARS epidemic was also caused by a coronavirus, which was 0.1 microns in size. The size of COVID-19 is approximately 0.125 microns. Even if a HEPA filter traps the virus, it won’t be destroyed. Instead, it will remain alive inside the filter for as long as the virus survives. In some cases, this can be for as long as nine days.

PCO UV Lights
A PCO (photo catalytic oxidation) UV light mounted in the airstream destroys odors, bacteria, VOCs, mold, and viruses.

A PCO UV light will not only kill microbes and destroy airborne viruses, it also cleans surfaces.

UV light, particularly UVC, destroys viruses, bacteria, and mold by damaging their DNA and RNA, so they can’t multiply, however, the exposure to the light isn’t long enough to do so. A PCO UV light mounted in the airstream relies on creating hydrogen peroxide to clean the air and surfaces.

A catalyst in a PCO UV light reacts with moisture in the air to create hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide created by the UV light settles on surfaces and continues to kill microbes.

Hydrogen peroxide is the safest disinfectant around. It’s been used by the medical community for 170 years. 

I’m not aware of a specific test on the effectiveness of UV lights on COVID-19, but PCO UV lights have been thoroughly tested and proven effective on airborne and surface bacteria and viruses like MRSA, e-coli, Norwalk virus, and SARS, (which is a coronavirus) so there’s no reason to believe it won’t have the same success against COVID-19 as it has with these other contaminants. I have PCO UV lights in my own home. I can get exercise induced asthma, so I kept an asthma inhaler on a table in the hallway that leads into my workout room. I was in the habit of taking a hit off it just prior to exercising as a “pre-emptive strike” against an asthma attack. I had my PCO UV lights installed in my home for a month before I realized I was no longer using the inhaler. Also, even my ex (to her bitter disappointment) came over for a visit a month after I had them installed and had to admit that the house, which didn’t smell bad to begin with, smelled even better.

Ionizers
I believe the wave of the future in air purification is in ionizers. They’re normally mounted on the indoor blower housing. Two advantages they have over PCO UV lights are that there is no bulb to be changed and there is absolutely no ozone. They work entirely differently from a PCO UV light. Ionizers create positive and negative ions.  These ions break pollutants and gases down into harmless compounds like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.

When the ions come in contact with viruses, bacteria or mold, they remove the hydrogen atoms, thereby removing the pathogens source of energy, consequently destroying them.

Ionizers create positive and negative ions. These ions break pollutants and gases down into harmless compounds like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.

The ions also attach to allergens like pollen and other particles, causing them to band together until they are large enough to be caught by the HVAC system’s air filter.

Recently, I purchased a 40-year old manufactured home. I immediately replaced the ductwork and had the system thoroughly cleaned. When it became occupied, the occupants complained of a musty smell. I installed an ionizer and the complaints went away. I’ve been in there myself and it now smells like a brand new home.

There is now a combination PCO UV light and ionizer, which would provide the most comprehensive protection.

A Word of Caution
We’re not doctors, so never give anyone medical advice.

We can’t guarantee cures, but we can guarantee cleaner air. Invest in a particle counter, and take a particle count prior to installing any indoor air quality products. Then, if their effectiveness is ever questioned, take another reading and see if there are fewer airborne particles.

We’re not doctors, so never give anyone medical advice.

Don’t guarantee that they won’t get coronavirus. Viruses tend to travel short distances between people or land and linger on surfaces. An air purifier, even if equipped to kill a virus, can fail to catch a virus before it comes into contact with a person or surface.