As people try to adapt to realities of the new normal, a surge of gadgets marketed at eliminating, or at least, reducing the risks of getting sick has hit the market. We’re not just talking about masks and face shields: gadgets like UV lamps and air purifiers (both the wearable and standalone variety) have become hot-selling items in online stores and neighborhood Viber groups all over the country.
But do these gadgets really live up to the promise of reducing the chances of contracting COVID-19 or any other virus? To answer those pressing questions, we talked to Dr. Leonila “Inday” Dans. Aside from being a pediatrician, Dr. Dans is also a member of the Steering Committee of HPAAC (Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19). With our chat with Dr. Dans, we get all those answers regarding the said gadgets, along with other tips on how to stay safe.
Are wearable air purifiers effective as what they promise?
There’s a good chance that your family member, relative, or friend is wearing a device like the product above on their neck. These air purifiers—or air ionizers—claim to keep the air around you clean by utilizing negative ions. While a study by Columbia University said that negative ions act as a mood booster, there are no concrete studies on how effective they are in protecting users from viruses in their surroundings. “Wala pang masyadong ebidensiya dun sa mga maliliit [na air purifier],” said Dr. Dans.
Because they are so small that you can wear them as a necklace, Dr. Dans has doubts about their effectivity in keeping the air of the user’s surroundings clean. “Palagay ko, hindi sila gaanong effective dahil masyadong maliit siya ” The same goes for addressing allergies: because wearable air purifiers are small, they are not guaranteed to filter out all air pollutants surrounding the user, especially in large areas.
How about the bigger, standalone air purifiers?
As for the larger, standalone air purifier, Dr. Dans said that effective standalone air purifiers are those that use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. These are used in hospitals, airplanes, and in places where the overall air quality is not as great. While they are effective, people should be mindful that you will need to replace these filters once in a while to maintain their effectivity in keeping the surrounding air clean.
Regardless of what air purifier you have, Dr. Dans points out that it is still important to wear a mask at all times.
“Akala ng iba kapag meron na silang air purifier pwede na sila hindi na mag-mask. Kailangan naka-mask pa rin tayo.”
What is the right mask to wear?
According to Dr. Dans, masks should fit and cover the face completely including the mouth and sides of the mask where the ear loops are. The popular Copper masks are not recommended because of the visible hole on the bottom part of the mask. Masks with fan vents, while comfortable to use, seem to benefit the user more than it protects others from viruses.
Dr. Dans, along with HPAAC, recommends: “Di ba shield? Kasi yung iba naka-baba kung ano-ano naka-mask na ‘di nakalapat. So yung shield at saka yung mask, mas protektado tayo, pati na rin yung katapat mo protected so lahat, doble ang proteksyon…Kaya dawala yung sinabi naming recommended: kung hindi maganda yung pagkasuot at least may isa pa ‘di ba.”
What are the precautions of using UV lamps?
“UV Light technology is used in operating rooms so it is proven effective.”
Dr. Dans said that the effectivity may vary because of different wattage of UV Light, and cautions consumers of the dangers of using these gadgets because they can cause cancer and even blindness. As for that strange smell, she says that it’s perfectly normal, as UV lights tend to emit a strange smell when it is turned on. Dr. Dans confirms this is a normal occurrence caused by the strength of the UV light.
What’s the overall verdict on these anti-pandemic gadgets then?
Anti-pandemic gadgets may not be exactly anti-COVID but it doesn’t hurt to use them as an added precaution. “ang virus, kailangan ng living host para mabuhay. All you have to do is leave it, don’t touch it, at eventually mamatay na siya,” Dr. Dans said. “Practical tech lang ang kailangan natin, di naman natin kailangan gumastos,” she says in closing.
You can check out this video feature here on the best face masks to buy and wear while we are still under normal: