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Filtration systems promise to pull coronavirus out of thin air

Liz McLaughlin finds out if it works, and if it's worth the money

NEW YORK, N.Y. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - As restaurants and businesses reopen, many are concerned about how to stay safe in close quarters.

"It can be aerosolized so it can travel in much much smaller droplets travel farther and stay in the air longer" says Perry Santanachote with Consumer Reports.

Building ventilation hasn't gotten a lot of attention during the pandemic, but it could pose problems. A CDC study of a restaurant in China showed an association between the transmission of the virus and the airflow from the air conditioning unit.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently encouraged businesses to consider air filtration systems that can capture viral particles.

"It shows promise," said Gov. Cuomo.

They'll become a must for shopping malls.

"We will make it mandatory," said the governor.

HEPA filters and UV light systems can sanitize the air, but the upgrades could be a burden on already cash-strapped businesses.

"These kinds of adjustments are quite expensive," says Santanachote.

And simply upgrading the filter can be counterproductive if there's not enough power to move the air through it.

"It's not just about you know changing a filter right you may have to change a fan as well so you can have more pressure flowing through the air as you increase the filtration." advises Dave Regnery with Trane Technologies

Experts suggest choosing outdoor over indoor options when possible, such as on a patio at a restaurant.

"We don't want to see crowded bars or indoor spaces even though it's comfortable, it's cool… it's dangerous in terms of re-breathed air." warns Professor Edward Nardell of Harvard Medical School.

That makes both proper ventilation, and masks, even more important.

HEPA filters are already used in the air filtration systems in most hospitals and airplanes.

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