Air purifiers may actually be doing more harm than good during the pandemic — as a new study shows they could help spread COVID-19 droplets in confined spaces.

Researchers at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus conducted the study, “Physics of Fluids,” that was published on Tuesday to show what would happen if a person coughed in a crowded elevator.

“The air purifier reduces the droplet dispersion but will not eliminate it. The air intake integrated inside the purifier equipment induces flow circulation that can add to the transport of contaminated saliva droplets in the cabin,” wrote authors Talib Dbouka and Dimitris Drikakis.

“The results of the present study are pertinent to any confined spaces, including small rooms in residential or commercial facilities, car parks, shops, as well as an aircraft cabin, submarines, and spacecraft,” the scientists added.

They also suggested, “future ventilation and purification systems should aim at reducing AVT [airborne virus transmission] through minimization of droplet dispersion.”

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