Brooklyn Neustaeter
CTVNewsca writer


New research suggests air purifiers used in elevators and other confined spaces may actually increase airborne transmission of COVID-19 (Courtesy of Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis / Fluid physics)

New study found that air purifiers used in elevators and other confined spaces may actually do more harm than good by limiting the spread of COVID-19

While air purifiers should help reduce transmission, researchers at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus report that air purifiers in compact areas actually increase the dispersion of saliva droplets from airborne viruses.

According to the study, air quality in small spaces can «degrade quickly» without adequate ventilation However, researchers found that adding ventilation increased the speed at which potentially infected air can circulate in the small space.

Manufacturers have added air purifiers to elevators to help solve this problem, but researchers say the systems are not designed to account for their effect on overall airflow.

In the study, the researchers performed calculations for a 3D space equivalent to that of an elevator capable of holding five people

According to the study, a «mild cough» was simulated at a place in the elevator, et des entrées et sorties d’air ont été ajoutées à divers endroits pour examiner l’influence des particules sur la circulation. L’étude a noté qu’un purificateur d’air était également inclus dans la simulation

Nous avons quantifié l’effet de la circulation de l’air sur la transmission des virus aéroportés et montré que l’installation d’un purificateur d’air à l’intérieur d’un ascenseur modifie considérablement la circulation de l’air mais n’élimine pas la transmission aérienne”, a déclaré l’auteur de l’étude Dimitris Drikakis dans un communiqué de presse.

Researchers explained that air purifiers use ultraviolet radiation to kill viruses and other germs, but can also circulate air, “sucking in and discharging the purified air.”The study indicates that this adds to the overall circulation, which is an aspect that its authors say has not been considered in previous research.

Previous studies have indicated that saliva droplets can travel more than five meters in five seconds when an infected, unmasked person coughs or sneezes.

Study author Talib Dbouk said in the press release that this was due to reduced-flow mixing inside the elevator. ????

“Our results show that installing an air purifier can increase droplet spread”, said Drikakis «The air intake integrated into the purification equipment induces a flow circulation which can contribute to the transport of contaminated saliva droplets in the cabin”

According to the study, the observed effect increases with the number of infected people in an elevator

Drikakis added that the results suggest that regulatory authorities should set the minimum ventilation required depending on the type of building and restrict the number of people allowed in an elevator at a time..

While the study examined the role of an air purifier, the researchers only examined the air inlet and outlet associated with the purifier. They haven't evaluated the mechanism inside the purifier that can trap and kill viral particles

However, researchers say airborne virus transmission is “always important” even with an air purifier in place

Researchers say findings should be factored into future designs of air purifiers and ventilation systems

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Coronavirus, airborne transmission, air purifier, virus, Flügge droplets, research, confined space

News – FR – Air purifiers can do more harm than good in confined spaces, according to a study
Associated title :
Air purifiers can do more harm than good in confined spaces with viruses suspended in the air
Air purifiers can do more harm than good in confined spaces, according to a study
Air purifiers can actually increase the spread of airborne viruses Like COVID-19


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