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Can Air Purifiers Prevent Swine Flu?

Written by Duncan under Air Purifiers | 7 Comments ""

Swine flu is spread in the same fashion as ordinary influenza – through the droplets which come out of the nose or mouth when a person coughs or sneezes. These are then either airborne or precipitate out of the atmosphere on to a surface.

The virus is then transmitted to another person by them breathing in the airborne virus or touching a contaminated surface, such as door handles or hand rails, and then touching their own face. The NHS direct website states that the flu virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and on a soft surface or around 20 minutes.

So could air purifiers remove an influenza virus, such as Swine flu, from the air?

Well, it depends on the type of technology being employed by the air purifier.

A HEPA filter is effective at removing particles from the air that are 0.3 micrometers or larger in size. However, as the Swine flu virus is between 80-120 nanometres in size (0.12 micrometers), HEPA filters may not be totally effective at removing Swine flu from an atmosphere.

Likewise carbon filters are effective at absorbing odours and chemicals from an atmosphere but would also be ineffective at eliminating viruses. Other types of air purifiers that would not work are ionisers, plasma ionisers and ozone generators.

However, air purifiers incorporating UV lamps expose the air passing through them to ultra violet light which does kill airborne viruses. These types of air purifiers include the Bio-Stop 2, the HM685 air purifier and this Four stage UV air purifier. Each of these units incorporate UV lamps so would suppress viruses, such as Swine flu, in an atmosphere.

All of these UV air purifiers also use TiO2 technology that amplifies the UV making the sterilisation even more effective.

Another type of air purifier effective against airborne viruses, such as Swine flu, is the Airfree air purifier. This uses a super-heated ceramic core to kill 99.99% of micro-organisms passing through it, including viruses.

Other tips for helping protect yourself and others from airborne viruses, such as Swine flu include:

  • Always covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully
  • Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face, or to other people
  • Cleaning hard surfaces, such as door handles, frequently using a normal cleaning product

For further information on Swine flu please visit the NHS Direct website at


7 Responses to “Can Air Purifiers Prevent Swine Flu?”

  1. McKay Hansen says:

    Your article is incorrect. A medical grade HEPA filter removes 99.97% of particles at 0.3 micrometers (not 3 micromenters) and above. 0.3 micrometers is equal to 300 nanometers. The swine flu virus is between 80 and 120 nanometers. However, a HEPA filter is even more efficient at smaller particle sizes and so is quite effective with viruses.

  2. Duncan says:

    Many thanks for your comment. The mistake has been corrected re 3 rather than 0.3. It is also true that HEPA filters can trap particles smaller than 0.3 micrometers, such as viruses, but it is also possible for viruses to pass through these types of filters. Some may get trapped by adhering to the HEPA media but can also break loose and return to the air. Some HEPAs have treated media impregnated with germicidal, which gives an added protection against viruses but if they make it through initially due to their small size, this does not help.

    It’s safer to rely on a HEPA and UV light combination. The HEPA filter will capture particulate matter >0.3 micrometers and some matter that is smaller, such as viruses, and the UV light will kill any airborne viruses that make it through the HEPA media. Most UV air purifiers do incorporate HEPA filters, as without this function bacteria and viruses can be “shadowed” by larger particulate matter.

    Thanks again for your correction.

  3. How to Prevent Flu says:

    Thanks for the info. Never knew about this.

  4. Husam Rezek says:

    Thanks a lot for the article. It is very helpful for work places such as offices for example.

    I have a question. Can spraying air with detergents such as DETOL kill the virus?


  5. Duncan says:

    This could do you more harm than good as it would hurt your eyes if it got into them and there is the potential to breathe in the detergent aerosol which could damage your lungs. Also it probably wouldn’t do your carpets or clothing much good either if the bleach precipitated out onto them.

    As for whether or not it would kill the virus, I don’t think the active ingredient in the detergent would remain in the atmosphere for long, doing the same bacteria-killing job it does when sprayed onto surfaces, so it probably wouldn’t be an effective solution.

  6. Flu,H1N1,Swine,Swine Flu,Flu Pandemic, says:

    Excellent post, finally a post thats worth reading

  7. Dentists In West Hollywood says:

    Is there a video on youtube about this?

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