Did you know that about 40% of Indians’ life expectancy reduces by nine years due to air pollution? Air pollution has adversely increased in metropolitan states like Delhi & Mumbai. This has led to the increase in the need for an air purifier at home.
Air purifier marketers say that an air purifier is a must in all households because pollution is not just an outdoor occurrence. The level of pollutants in closed areas is five times more than outdoors. Air pollution happens due to smoke, mold, bacteria, mites, stoves, pet hair- the list goes on and on.
However, the question that arises is whether air purifiers work? Does it deserve the hype that it gets? Or is it purely a marketing strategy for gains? Read through the article to know more about air purifiers and if it works or not.
What Is An Air Purifier?
We will start at the very beginning by asking what an air purifier is? An air purifier is an appliance designed to clean the indoor air by getting rid of pollutants such as allergens, pollen, smoke, dust, order, etc. Indoor spaces can either be homes, offices, schools or even factories and big industries.
Air purifiers help reduce dust accumulation and pet hair, eliminate mites and molds, and get rid of nasty smells from paint, varnish, etc. There is a lower chance for a person to catch allergies and trigger asthmatic problems if the air around them is clean and fresh.
How Does An Air Purifier Work?
Air purifiers have components like fans, a motor, and several filters. The fan sucks the air and blows it into the air purifiers. Then, it passes through the filters made with fine sieves/ mesh, paper, fiberglass, etc. Some air purifiers will only have one filter while others have two or three; some even have a five-level purification filter system.
The greater number of filters, the more efficient the purification process is. Similarly, the finer the sieves, the more particles are captured during purification. However, not all purifiers have the capacity to remove every impurity in the air. It would be best if you bought an air purifier based on the pollutants found in your surroundings.
Mentioned above is the primary function of an air purifier, but the most recent ones work on a higher technology. Some of these air purifiers use electric irons, carbon absorption, photochemical reactions (PECO), and even UV-C technology to remove the pollutants in the atmosphere.
Why Do We Question The Working Of An Air Purifier?
Marketers say that, in an enclosed space, about 99.7% of all microscopic air pollutants can be purified by an air purifier. Most purifiers neutralize the air and get rid of contaminants, but not all of them live up to their name.
The main reason for this is because air purifiers come into the market after being tested in controlled conditions for a short period. This does not equate to the time we run the appliance at home, nor does it have the same contaminations, and even the area covered is different.
Another reason is that many cleaners are low quality and produce secondary pollutants like ozone during the purification process. Some air purifiers that come under this category are ozone purifiers, UV light purifiers, and air ionizers.
Even though ozone is mainly known as a protective shield against harmful ultraviolet rays, on the ground level, it is incredibly detrimental. It causes problems ranging from allergies and asthmas to cancer.
Are They Efficient?
Simple answer – YES!
Even though we question the working of an air purifier for the above reason, it does remove particles to an extent. However, not all purifiers can remove all the impurities in the air. So, while purchasing, carefully pick based on what you need to purify. The four most common types of air purifiers are listed below.
Different Types Of Air Purifiers
First, we will talk about the purifiers we strictly need to avoid, those that emit ozone into the atmosphere during purification.
Ozone Generators/ Purifier
As mentioned above, ozone is extremely bad for your health, so please avoid this purifier at cost!
An ozone generator releases ozone at regular intervals and the ozone molecules interact with the air particles. During this interaction, oxidation occurs and kills the bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms present in the atmosphere.
However, it does more harm than good as it takes years for the ozone gas to go from an enclosed space. Many ozone generators/ purifiers are relatively cheap, which could be why people tend to buy them.
So, if you see cheap cleaners, make sure that it is not an ozone purifier as it is hazardous and has serious side effects.
This is another cleaner that you should avoid. It does not directly release ozone into the air, but air ionizers remove it in a small quality as a by-product.
An air ionizer emits negatively charged ions into the atmosphere, and these ions stick onto the positively charged impure air particles or contamination. This makes the impure particles fall and stick onto solid surfaces.
Some ironers that use negative ionization technology can remove molds and bacteria but do not get rid of pollutants. The pollutants fall onto solid surfaces, which means that there is a chance that we can still breathe them in and get infections.
UV Light Purifiers
UV light purifiers also produce ozone as their by-product. Apart from this, UV light is bad for your skin and eyes and can have adverse health effects. Also, it does nothing to remove other pollutants or foul odors.
UV light purifiers work using UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI). In This method, we shine the UV light on bacteria and other viruses to damage their DNA to stop its function.
However, most UV light purifiers designed for home purposes do not work long enough to kill these germs. So, there is a high chance for them to come back to life.
Activated Carbon Purifiers
This is a good quality purifier that does not release contaminated secondary pollutants like ozone into the atmosphere.
As the name suggests, this filter uses a unique activated carbon with tiny absorbent pores. The difference between HEPA filters and activated carbon filters is that an activated carbon filter cannot remove pollutants like molds, spores, bacteria, etc.
So, this type of filter can capture and purify chemical gases and fumes, cooking order, the smell from smoke, paint, varnish, and even pets. The downside is that particles will still be present, which means that health problems will still prevail.
Activated Carbon filters usually last for three to six months and need to be replaced from time to time. You could buy this type of purifier if you aimed to remove the nasty odor in your house or office. But, if the aim is to remove the pollutants, you might want to choose a HEPA filter purifier.
A True High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is a high-performance mechanical filter that can remove about 99.97% of all microscopic particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. However, other HEPA filters in the market known as “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” are inferior products and can only capture particles as small as 2-5 microns.
The air undergoes an intense four-step purification process in a HEPA purifier- pre-filter, specially treated carbon filter, antibacterial coated HEPA filter and Air Ionizer. The filters are multi-layered and are made from fine fiberglass material compressed together in a sealed, airtight metal or plastic frame.
HEPA filters can remove pollutants like allergens, pollens, molds, spores, fungi, pet hair, and visible smoke. Some HEPA purifiers do not have a carbon filter. But if it does, then the purifier can remove lousy odor, chemical fumes, or harmful gases.
You can use a HEPA purifier for a year, but the filter replacing process is costly. However, it is the most efficient cleaner in the market!
Features To Consider Before Purchase
There are some features you should consider while buying an air purifier, in this section, we will put some light on those features.
ACH and CADR
ACH or Air Changes per Hour gives you the number of times the air changes in the room per hour. While CADR or Clean Air Delivery Rate informs how effective the machine is in the purification process. Both the rating should be high for the purifier to work effectively.
Many add-on filters can be used to improve the filtration process. Some of them include Pre-filter, True HEPA filter, activated carbon filter antibacterial and germicidal filters. The more the filters, the better the process.
Placement And Room Size
Place the purifier in the most contaminated place for efficient working. Compare the square footage rating on the purifier with your room to know if it is apt for your space. Also, some purifiers are noisy, so choose one according to where you want to place it.
Always check the operating and maintenance cost before purchase. HEPA purifiers are more costly than activated carbon filters. However, the latter only lasts for three to six months, while HEPA filters last about a year.
Some Of The Benefits Of An Air Purifier
Here are some stark benefits you must consider of an air purifier:
- An air purifier reduces the number of impurities in the air.
- Hence, it minimizes the chance of airborne diseases.
- Also, it helps to reduce allergic and asthmatic problems.
- It neutralizes the smell by absorbing unpleasant odors.
The Bottom Line
Prevention is better than cure. So, we do need air purifiers at home because pollution is increasing day by day.
However, make sure you purchase a good quality purifier like a HEPA purifier which can remove both pollutants and harmful odors.
An activated carbon filter is also good if you aim to remove only the toxic smell.
We hope you find this information helpful. Please leave a comment if you found this article helpful.