COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In these uncertain times, the Alen team is committed to your wellbeing. That includes providing clear information about how air purifiers can and cannot protect you from coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to the information below, you can find even more detailed data in our recent COVID-19 blog.
How can a HEPA air purifier help with virus prevention?
- · NO air purifier can completely protect you from a virus.
- · Based on independent studies, we believe air purifiers support overall wellness.
- · With a heightened focus on prevention, we think air purifiers are best utilized as an extra protective measure to support your body’s most important
- tool for fighting viruses—a healthy immune system.
How small are virus particles? Can HEPA filters capture that size?
- · Extremely small—over 20X smaller than dust, soot, or smoke particles. COVID-19 particles average 0.125 microns (between .06 to .14 microns),
- according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
- · Yes, in theory, but the exact rate is not proven. True HEPA (grade-H13) filters are rated by the US Department of Energy to remove 99.97% of
- particles at or above 0.3 microns. That size represents a gap or dip in capture rate due to inertial physics. Manufacturer testing shows capture
- rates increase as particles get smaller than 0.3 microns, but the extent of COVID-19 removal can ONLY be proven by proxy tests in controlled
- environments, which are still underway.
- · According to a NASA study, “HEPA-rated media provides superior performance for removing virtually 100% of particulates,” including “…fine
- (<2.5 micron) and ultrafine (<0.01 micron) sized particulate matter.”
- · For more information about how HEPA filters work, read our recent COVID-19 blog.
Will Alen Antimicrobial filters kill viruses?
- · No. But by capturing and killing other harmful particles, your body can focus on keeping your immune system strong day and night.
- · Many Alen filters feature an antimicrobial coating capable of killing 99.99% of E. Coli and Staph bacteria, while inhibiting fungi and mold. Although
- not tested for viruses, these filters can contribute to a healthier indoor environment.
Which of the filters that Alen offers are best for virus protection?
- · All of Alen’s filters for the BreatheSmart family and the T500 feature True HEPA grade H13 media which performs according to the references
- here. The addition of carbon or MP odor powder in any of these filters would address smell concerns—not be active against a virus.
- · The major consideration for better effectiveness is having a properly sized purifier for the room(s) involved to assure sufficient volume of air flow to
- capture airborne particles
Is Ultraviolet (UV) light effective for killing viruses in air purification and why don’t you offer it?
- · The gold standard for germ-free purification exists in well designed and maintained hospital operating rooms. In those spaces, multiple HEPA filters
- and directional airflow are used. UV light is used as an optional additive measure. However, to be effective, UV light rays must have a direct line of
- sight to the virus particle and for enough time. Learn more here about how UV light has been used to address viruses in hospitals.
- · Given their relatively small size, air purifiers must pull a lot of airflow through an efficient filter in order to clean an entire space. Thus, the amount of
- time between air entering and exiting the unit is very short. To further complicate matters, it is well documented that the Coronavirus is particularly
- robust by its length of survival time on various surfaces. Will UV kill viruses? Yes, but to a far lesser degree of effectiveness than efficient HEPA
- filtration and whole-room airflow. We could offer this but have yet to find the balance between effectiveness and cost.
What is the safest way to remove and replace an Alen filter?
- · For maximum personal protection while replacing an entire Alen filter at the end of its service life, use gloves (and a mask if you wish) to pull the
- filter from the unit, put it into a trash bag, and tie the top. Particles caught in the filter are held securely by HEPA fibers unless the filter is vigorously
- shaken or dropped. For occasional cleaning of the prefilter, it is best to use gloves to pull it off and discard it—again in a trash bag while replacing
- with new one. In very dusty or high pet dander/fur conditions you can also wear gloves and vacuum the prefilter in place carefully with a brush
- · You can find more information about prefilter cleaning and purchase replacement prefilters here.
Can I safely use HEPA material from an air purifier filter in a homemade mask? What is the difference between HEPA filter material and the material in N95 masks?
- · The material in our filters is True HEPA grade H13 which traps 99.97% of particles at .03 microns and greater while the N95 mask uses filter
- material that captures 95% of particles at .03 microns and greater; hence the term “N95.”
- · Under most circumstances, we don’t think it is harmful to use HEPA material from an AIR PURIFIER filter in homemade masks given the COVID-19
- situation. We believe that the value of using this material outweighs possible disadvantages. Here’s the critical detail: Air purifier filters typically do
- not contain the fiberglass found in certain HVAC filters, which can release harmful crystalline particles. PLEASE DO NOT USE HVAC FILTER
- MATERIAL FOR HOMEMADE MASKS.
- · A HEPA purifier filter is constructed of two or three layers consisting of the actual HEPA layer (which itself is fibrous), a melt or bonding layer, and a
- polypropylene backing layer required to hold the delicate HEPA layer in place. Polypropylene is essentially a woven sheet of plastic fibers of varying
- lengths to provide stiffness.
- · It is possible to inhale polypropylene fibers into your lungs, but the thread counts of most common cotton and other synthetic materials used in
- homemade masks makes it unlikely that the fibers can be separated from the backing and then make their way past that screen.
- · In the case of inhalation, the body cannot decompose these fibers in the same way as similar particles from other common plastic sources as cited
- in this and other research findings.
- · So, while the full effects of possible inhalation are not yet known, we are operating in unprecedented circumstances where the CDC, FDA, and
- medical facilities are welcoming PPE of this type and of even far less efficacy in light of the COVID-19 risks which are still not fully understand
- across patient populations.
- · To be clear, we cannot make a product claim for HEPA material in this use case – nor are we speaking for the industry. We as a company want to
- say as much as we can as soon as we can to help people to make their own informed decisions.