Air Purifiers, Air Filters, and the Best DIY Hacks to Reduce the Coronavirus Risk
How to clear the air in your home to protect against airborne Covid-19 transmission
Efforts to prevent Covid-19 infections have focused largely beyond the home, emphasizing crowded indoor public spaces. But after our son attended an event where he could have been exposed to the coronavirus, and we were told it could take a week to get test results, I began a quest to understand what to do if someone brings the virus home without knowing they are infectious, and how to create a sustainable defense for the “just in case” scenario, amid so many uncertainties.
First question: What are the odds family members will get infected?
“It clearly happens,” says Ashish Jha, MD, a practicing internist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “The attack rates are nowhere near 100%, they’re maybe 15 to 20%.” In other words, on average across all households with an infected person, 15% to 20% of family members would get the disease. A review of 40 studies on the topic, published August 1 but not yet peer-reviewed by other scientists, put the figure at 18.8%. Of course, many factors can affect these odds, including how many people are living in a given home and how crowded it is.
Second question: How can we lower the risk?
Improving ventilation in your home and filtering out the airborne coronavirus particles lowers the risk of Covid-19 infections, experts agree. Solutions range from cheap do-it-yourself hacks to not-so-cheap filter upgrades for a whole-house heating or air conditioning system, to somewhat more expensive but surprisingly useful portable air cleaners. Some tactics are most useful when you know there’s a sick person at home. Others can be used continuously just in case — perhaps particularly wise with schools opening, given that we now know kids can be infected and highly infectious.
All the approaches can be seen as layers of prevention that, when added together, further reduce risk. As a bonus, these same techniques will help reduce the spread of a cold or the flu. Also, allergy sufferers may find significant relief when the indoor air is cleaner, and everyone can enjoy the removal of smells, be…