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Air purifier in child's room.

Improving Air Quality at Home

By Dr. Jane Robertson, Suffolk Pediatrics

There’s nothing like a pandemic to get us thinking about the air quality in our homes, and how we can improve it for our families.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic machine to remove viruses. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there are some things you can do to improve air quality at home that can work hand-in-hand with masking, social distancing, and good hand hygiene.

Air Filters

Air filters trap pollutants by forcing the air through a filter. An air filter may be part of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system or be portable.

To improve air quality, replace filters more frequently or upgrade to better, higher-quality air filters in the central air return of your heating and cooling system.

Circulate the Air

Opening windows and turning on ceiling fans can increase air circulation and improve air quality, as long as you don’t live where air pollution is an issue.

You can also use box or floor fans, positioned so one pushes indoor air out one window and another one pulls fresh outdoor air inside from a different window.

Use caution when operating fans, particularly when children are present. Position fans so they are out of reach of small children and so they are stable and won’t fall over easily. Consider using a tower or other fan where the blades are concealed or completely shielded.

To help reduce risks of airborne transmission, direct the airflow of the fan so that is does not blow directly from one person to another.

Air Purifier

An air purifier is a portable air cleaner. It filters and traps pollutants from the air inside your home. It also sanitizes the air that comes through it. One of the most popular types of air purifiers is an ionizing air purifier, which uses an electric field to trap particles.

Air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a home, but they are not a magic bullet to protect people from COVID-19. However, they can be part of a plan when combined with other practices such as wearing a mask properly, staying 6 feet from others, disinfecting surfaces, and using good hand hygiene.


A humidifier doesn’t have any effect on allergens or other environmental triggers. However, it adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness, which can be helpful since the virus that causes COVID-19 survives better in dry air with low humidity.

If you use a humidifier, be careful not to add too much humidity to the air as it can cause mold or dust mites, which can make breathing harder. Monitor humidity levels and keep your humidifier clean. Dirty humidifiers can breed mold or bacteria.

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.