Editorial: Air purifiers

·2 min read

Since the pandemic started in 2020, wearable air purifiers have become something people commonly wear when going out of their homes. For some, they see this as another layer of protection against the Covid-19.

Last year, there were discussions online with regard to the effectiveness of wearable air purifiers against the virus. Several online articles have claimed that it does provide some sort of protection while others say it does not.

On October 30, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement that “it is not endorsing the use of necklace air purifiers that claim to kill bacteria or viruses, or protect from Covid-19.”

“While these devices do not pose any harm, the DOH currently does not recommend using these devices due to lack of evidence of efficacy,” it said.

Months later, the discussion on wearable air purifiers as a form of protection against Covid-19 has resurfaced. This is after Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order 35-D requiring drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to wear personal air purifiers.

Following her policy, DOH reiterated on Aug. 16 that while there is no harm in wearing air purifiers, it does not provide protection against the Covid-19.

“What it will do, it will give that false security to our kababayans na baka magkaroon ng complacency because of this and baka lalo pa tayong magkaroon ng inpeksyon (because it might cause complacency that could result in more infections),” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Under the Philippine Covid-19 Living Clinical Practice Guidelines, the use of an ionizing air purifier is not recommended to reduce Covid-19 transmission in the community. The guidelines were crafted by Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, National Institutes of Health of the University of the Philippines-Manila (UP-Manila) in cooperation with the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

In their paper “Is an ionizing air filter effective in reducing Sars-CoV-2 virus transmission in public spaces with sustained community transmission?” researchers Dr. Valentin C.

Dones III, Dr. Maria Cristina Z. San Jose, and Howell Henrian G. Bayona, MSc, CSP-PASP, said: “Ionizing air purifiers can efficiently remove the fine and ultrafine particles.

However, its effectiveness in eliminating airborne organisms for infection control is lacking.”

It also warned that “ozone, a dangerous respiratory irritant produced by some ionizing air purifiers, is a health risk to users.”

Hence, the recent spotlight on air purifiers serves as a reminder for us to continue to follow scientifically proven methods that could protect us.

These include wearing face masks, social distancing, and regular washing or sanitizing of hands. There are scientific researches and evidence that have shown that these simple actions could prevent and slow the transmission of Covid-19.

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