Experimental testing of air filter efficiency against the SARS-CoV-2 virus: The role of droplet and airborne transmission

Build Environ. 2022 Feb 15;210:108728. doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108728. Epub 2021 Dec 27.

Abstract

Verifying the capacity of different types of air filters to stop the propagation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has become a strategic element to contain viral spreading in enclosed spaces. This paper shows the results of experimental tests about the capacity of different commercial filter grades to stop SARS-CoV-2 propagation using inactivated virions. In the first test, the obtained results showed that the F8 filter blocks SARS-CoV-2 propagation if it encounters a flow devoid of liquid phase, i.e., a biphasic flow that can wet the filtering material. On the contrary, as shown in the second test, the SARS-CoV-2 virus propagates through the F8 filter if the droplet content in the air flow is enough to wet it. In these operational conditions, i.e., when the filter is wet by a flow with a high droplet content, the absolute H14 filter was also shown to fail to stop the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Lastly, in the third test, the viral load was shown to be stopped when the pathway of the infected droplet is blocked.

Keywords: Air filters; COVID-19; Coronavirus disease 2019; Experimental testing; Heating ventilation and air conditioning systems; SARS Coronavirus.