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New Study Suggests Air Purification Helps Prevent Respiratory Illness Spread

Researchers found that portable air purifiers reduced the peak number of airborne infectious particles by 64% in the “infector” room and by up to 90% in a neighboring room.

As Americans continue to grapple with the threat of airborne illnesses, new research shows that portable air purifiers significantly reduce the risk of both airborne and surface contact-related pathogen transmission indoors.


The first-of-its-kind study, conducted by the Well Living Lab in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Sabra Healthcare REIT, realistically simulated an ill patient breathing in an actual skilled nursing facility in Rochester, Minnesota, to examine how airborne particles traveled to neighboring rooms.


Researchers found that portable air purifiers reduced the peak number of airborne infectious particles by 64% in the “infector” room and by up to 90% in a neighboring room. Additional results and details from the study can be found in the attached document. Portable air filtration units made the air exchange rate (the number of times the total volume of air in a room is completely removed) 4x more efficient. This resulted in up to 7x lower particle concentration in the air, and 7x lower virus accumulation on surfaces.


While the study was conducted in a skilled nursing environment, the results have much wider public health implications. In addition to Covid-19, influenza and RSV, the long list of airborne illnesses includes measles, mumps, Tuberculosis and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).


“This study offers more proof that stand-alone air purification units can reduce disease transmission in similarly-sized spaces such as offices, conference rooms, hotel lobbies, classrooms and apartments,” said Peter Scialla, President of Delos, which founded the Well Living Lab in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic in 2014. “Put simply, effective air filtration protects health and saves lives.”


The skilled nursing facility research, conducted late last year, follows a 2021 Well Living Lab research project on the use of air filtration to prevent disease transmission in schools. That study also produced positive results.


“Removing particles from the air also significantly reduced the number of particles that landed on surfaces in neighboring rooms, which would also reduce the risk of disease transmission.” said Linhao Li, Senior Research Analyst, Well Living Lab. “The results were impressive.”

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