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Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(6):43


air filter

As the most senior physician in the U.S. Pacific Command in 2020, serving in the region where the virus that causes COVID-19 first emerged, I gained a new appreciation for the importance of improving indoor air quality to reduce transmission of airborne pathogens.

Some physician practices require mask wearing to prevent pathogen transmission in shared spaces. Masks have benefits, but they require consistent action on the part of individuals, which is less likely to produce the desired outcome than implementing engineering controls.

A full overhaul of heating and air conditioning systems may not be practical in most settings, but a simple, evidence-based, and relatively inexpensive way to improve indoor air quality is to use portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems (i.e., air purifiers).1

While critics may say that viruses are small enough to slip through a standard HEPA filter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says HEPA filters are still effective because viruses expelled into the air from infected persons do not travel as discrete virions but in small droplets, and the filters capture the particles that carry the pathogens. The CDC provides detailed recommendations on how to employ filtration to improve your office's indoor air quality.2

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Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at

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