Killing the Coronavirus: Myth vs. Fact

There is a lot of information out there about what's effective at killing the COVID-19 virus and preventing its spread. Unfortunately, a lot of that information is false or misleading. Let's get the facts by taking a close look at three of the most common coronavirus myths.

Myth 1. Improving HVAC ventilation will help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Fact. Except in rare circumstances , such as high particulate laden air in industrial settings, COVID-19 doesn't spread through the air. According to the World Health Organization, the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, so they quickly fall on surfaces. So, HVAC filters and increased ventilation are not very effective in most cases at reducing the spread of the virus.

Myth 2. Sunlight will destroy the COVID-19 virus

Fact. The ability of light to destroy the COVID-19 virus depends on the wavelength of light used and the dose — intensity plus duration. Shorter wavelength light is more potent than longer wavelength light. Sunlight is a composite of many wavelengths of light, only a very small portion of which is short wavelength, so it is also ineffective at killing the COVID-19 virus. Use of very short wavelength ultraviolet irradiation looks promising, but more testing needs to be done.

Myth 3. Hydrogen peroxide fumes will kill the COVID-19 virus

Fact. While liquid hydrogen peroxide fumes might kill some of the virus, the cure can be as bad as the virus. Inhalation of household strength hydrogen peroxide will irritate lungs and eyes. Stronger hydrogen peroxide solutions would be even more damaging. However, treatment of objects and surfaces with a fog of ionized hydrogen peroxide is very effective at killing the COVID-19 virus and is safe for humans. It's being used to sterilize N95 masks.

See COVID-19 Myth Busters from the World Health Organization for information about separating coronavius fact from fiction.