The research findings suggest that air filtration systems do not effectively reduce the likelihood of viral illnesses, according to a new study conducted at the University of East Anglia.
Recent research from the University of East Anglia challenges the efficacy of air filtration systems in lowering the risk of contracting viral illnesses.
The study highlights the limitations of technologies designed to enhance safety in indoor social interactions when applied in real-world scenarios.
The research team explored a range of technologies, including air filtration, germicidal lights, and ionizers. Despite a thorough examination of available evidence, the study found limited support for the idea that these technologies can effectively purify the air from respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
Professor Paul Hunter, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, clarified, “Air cleaners are designed to eliminate pollutants or contaminants from circulating air. When the Covid pandemic emerged, various major organizations and governments, including the NHS, the British military, and authorities in New York City and regional German governments, considered deploying this technology to reduce airborne virus particles in buildings and confined spaces.”
Nonetheless, air treatment technologies entail significant costs. Hence, it is advisable to weigh the benefits against the expenses and understand the current capabilities of these technologies,” Professor Paul Hunter emphasized. The research team thoroughly examined the evidence regarding the effectiveness of air cleaning technologies in safeguarding individuals from airborne respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
In their investigation, they incorporated 32 studies conducted in practical settings like schools or care homes, evaluating microbial infections or symptoms in individuals exposed to air treatment technologies as opposed to those who were not. It’s worth mentioning that none of the studies on air treatment initiated during the Covid era have been published to date.
Dr. Julii Brainard, the principal investigator from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, remarked, “Our investigation encompassed a range of technologies, including filtration, germicidal lights, ionizers, and any other method considered safe for removing or deactivating viruses in breathable air.”
“To sum up, our findings suggest a lack of robust evidence supporting the effectiveness of air treatment technologies in safeguarding individuals in real-world settings.
While there is ample evidence showing that different air treatment strategies, notably germicidal lights and high-efficiency particulate air filtration (HEPA), can alleviate environmental and surface contamination, the overall evidence indicates that these technologies do not prevent or reduce the incidence of illness.
“We expect that the studies conducted during the Covid era will be published soon, allowing us to make a more informed assessment regarding the potential efficacy of air treatment during the pandemic.”
“We look forward to the forthcoming publication of studies conducted during the Covid era, which will enable us to make a more informed assessment of the potential efficacy of air treatment during the pandemic.”
The research was carried out by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with partners from University College London, the University of Essex, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust, and the University of Surrey.
There is scant evidence indicating a potential decrease in the likelihood of infection through air treatment methods, but this evidence seems to be biased and inconsistent.”
“We harbor strong suspicions that there might be relevant studies demonstrating minimal or no effect that were never published.
Although our findings are disheartening, it is imperative for public health decision-makers to possess a thorough understanding of the situation.”