In this article, we discuss the working mechanism of necklace air purifiers. Furthermore, we will discuss the pros and cons of an air purifier necklace.
What is an air purifier necklace?
Air purifier necklace is a device that is worn on the neck in order to clean the air within the breathing range of a person.
Ever since the continuous rise in air pollution, especially in large cities, air purifiers have started being important. These pollutants can have serious adverse effects on a person.
However, one of the biggest disadvantages of air purifiers is that they aren’t portable, hence, cannot be carried on the go. Therefore, air purifier necklaces offer an advantage, given their relatively smaller size and ease of portability.
Why do we need an air purifier?
Ever since the onset of industrialisation, air quality has been degrading steadily, particularly in urban areas. Exposure to these pollutants, even for a short duration, could have adverse effects on human health.
There are various pollutants that are released by natural processes as well as anthropogenic (i.e., human based) activities. Out of these, the biggest culprit is particulate matter (PM).
What is particulate matter (PM)
PM refers to particles in the sub-micron range that are suspended in the air.
There are two forms of particulate matter: coarse particulate matter (PM10) and tiny particulate matter (PM2.5). PM2.5 is a prevalent problem among them.
There are many sources of PM in the ambient air. Some of the main sources include factories, power plants, refuse incinerators, fumes from automobiles, construction activities, fires and natural windblown dust.
Numerous studies have shown that exposure to polluted air containing particulate matter have been shown to cause various issues, such as:
- premature death in people with heart or lung disease
- nonfatal heart attacks
- irregular heartbeat
- aggravated asthma
- decreased lung function
- increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.
Given the variety of PM present, they have various sources. These particles can originate from a variety of sources, which can be indoors, or outdoor pollution that enters through doors, windows, seeps, cracks, and so on.
This is where air purifiers come in the picture. Air purifiers mainly work on particulate matter, and rid the indoor ambient air of the PM pollution in the room, thereby cleaning the indoor air.
How do air purifier necklaces work?
Larger air purifier units that are designed specifically for indoor use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. They pull in the air from the surroundings, which is passed through the filter, and thereby purifying the air.
Air purifiers work best on particulate matter (PM), and ones with HEPA filters have an efficiency greater than 99% for particles greater than or equal to 0.3 micrometers (µm) in size.
However, portable air purifiers, such as air purifier necklaces, use charged ions for cleaning the air. They released ions in the vicinity of the device.
These ions attract pollutants present in the ambient air which have the opposite charge, and repel particles with a negative charge, and in this manner, they keep the air clean around the individual.
Advantages and disadvantages of air purifier necklaces
Air purifier necklaces have been catching the eye, especially in the current context, where people are conscious about the kind of air they breathe.
There are certain advantages that air purifier necklaces offer, such as:
- Helps in relieving symptoms of allergies
- Gets rid of odors
- Can efficiently remove ultrafine particulate matter (UF).
However, there are disadvantages of using an air purifier necklace, which include:
- Low efficiency
- Production of ozone
- Can attract pollutants on the body
We shall discuss these in detail.
Advantages of air purifying necklaces
Helps in relieving symptoms of allergies
Studies have shown that air ionisers are effective in getting rid of allergens, which include pollen, spores from mold, animal dander, dust, and so on.
These allergens usually have a charged surface, due to which they can attract the ions generated by the air ionising necklace.
This, in turn, causes the particles to get too heavy, due to which they cannot stay suspended in the air for a while, which in turn causes them to sediment.
This helps to reduce the number of allergens which can get inhaled, due to which an allergic response can get triggered in people.
Gets rid of odors
Air ionisers interact with odor causing molecules as well. Odor is caused when a particular pollutant interacts with the sensory neurons present in the nose lining.
This is done by different bonding sites. Hence, different substances have a distinct odor. However, these ions interact and bind to the bonding sites of the odor causing pollutants.
This, in turn, renders the pollutants ineffective, due to which the odor cannot be picked up by the nose. Therefore, air ionising necklaces are useful especially when one is passing through polluted areas such as open dumps or sewages, traffic, and so on.
Can efficiently remove ultrafine particulate matter (UF)
Ultrafine particles (UF) are a class of particulate matter (PM), which are less than 1 micron in terms of aerodynamic diameter. These are generated from various sources, such as traffic, industrial emissions, combustion, cigarette smoking, etc.
There are many studies that have established a correlation between exposure to UF and reported cases of illnesses related to pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, cancers, and in some cases, premature deaths.
This is primarily because these particles can easily penetrate all the way through the respiratory passage, and end up in the deep recesses of the alveoli, the site where air exchange between the lungs and blood takes place.
However, ions generated by the air purifier can efficiently pick out these UF particles and in a way similar to that for allergens, remove them from the ambient air.
Disadvantages of air purifying necklaces
Conventional air purifiers are known for their high efficiency rate of removing pollutants from the ambient air. However, the same cannot be said for air purifier necklaces.
In an experiment carried out by Shi et al, air purifier necklaces from different brands were used in a small stainless steel chamber.
It was found that the particles had a highly variable particle removal rate, but did not perform efficiently. Some of the devices had discharged at a relatively shorter amount of time.
Production of ozone
Air purifier necklaces work by generating ions at the rate of thousands per minute. They do so by using a mechanism called corona charging, in which oxygen molecules can also get broken down, which in turn react with each other to form ozone.
Ozone is a highly reactive gaseous molecule which is naturally present in the upper layers of the atmosphere, where it absorbs the sun’s damaging ultraviolet radiation.
When present in the lower levels of the atmosphere, however, it acts as a pollutant, and can have serious adverse effects on human health, which also includes afflictions related to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Ozone acts as an irritant, due to its pungent odor. It can cause wheezing, irritation in the nose and throat, runny nose, watery eyes, difficulty in breathing, and so on.
Additionally, ozone can also worsen the condition of people who are suffering from diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
Can attract pollutants on the body
Necklace air purifiers work by releasing ions in the vicinity of the user. These ions can also get stuck to the skin, particularly in the face and neck region.
In turn, these ions can attract pollutants towards the user itself, and can cause deposition of pollutants on the skin of the user. This can cause adverse effects on the skin, depending on the nature of the pollutant species.
Certain toxic species, which are heavy metal pollutants like lead, can be attracted towards the skin, and can have serious implications on the health of the user.
Additionally, in case if the air contains Volatile Organic Compounds, or simply VOCs, the ozone generated from the device as a byproduct can react with the VOCs in order to give rise to secondary organic aerosols (SOAs).
These SOAs do not have any implications on human health. However, they reduce the efficiency of the air purifier necklaces, as they reduce the particle removal performance.
Air purifier necklaces are basically smaller versions of air ionisers which release charged ions at the rate of thousands per minute. These ions have an advantage that they can get rid of allergy causing substances, remove unpleasant odors, and even get rid of ultrafine particulate matter.
However, these necklaces also generate ozone as a byproduct, have typically low efficiencies, and can sometimes even attract pollutants on the user’s body.
What are the alternatives to buying an air purifier necklace?
Some better alternatives to this are:
Avoid places with traffic congestion
As it is evident, traffic-related pollution is a major contributor to many health issues. So, it is best practice to avoid areas which have high traffic congestion or are prone to it. If it is convenient, one should travel in off-peak hours when there’s no traffic.
On the other hand, one can choose an alternate way of transit via a route which doesn’t have much traffic and is economical as well.
Check pollution levels before leaving
If you live in an urban area, it would be a good idea to check the pollution levels before leaving, so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
There are many government and non-government organisations that are responsible for tracking the concentration of major air pollutants in the city and provide real-time data for the public.
Clean your indoor air
An average American spends 93% of their total life indoors. 87% of their life is inside buildings, then another 6% of their life is in automobiles.
Over the last several years, a significant amount of scientific reports provide evidence of air pollution inside buildings and homes, referred to as indoor air pollution (IAP), which is more serious than outdoor air pollution, even in industrialised cities and metropolitan areas.
Thus, a person has a higher health risk from indoor air pollution than from outdoor air pollution. The best way to deal with IAP is by the following methods:
- Improving ventilation of the house.
- Using an air dehumidifier to reduce the relative humidity of the home.
- Avoid smoking or combustion of fuels inside the house, as these processes adversely affect the indoor air quality.
- You can invest in a HEPA air purifier.
Air purifiers with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are best suited for indoor purposes. The presence of an activated charcoal filter and a UV light further increases the efficiency of the filters.
Do air purifier necklaces generate more dust?
Yes, air purifier necklaces generate more dust. As explained above, the particles interact with the ions released from the necklace, causing them to fall. This causes them to deposit on ceilings, floor, carpets, and other surfaces, in the form of dust.
Other FAQs about Air Purifiers and Filters that you may be interested in.
- Shanshan Shi, Shihao Zhu, Eon S. Lee, Bin Zhao & Yifang Zhu (2016) Performance of wearable ionization air cleaners: Ozone emission and particle removal, Aerosol Science and Technology, 50:3, 211-221, DOI: 10.1080/02786826.2016.1139045
- Norris, G., YoungPong, S. N., Koenig, J. Q., Larson, T. V., Sheppard, L., and Stout, J. W. (1999). An Association Between Fine Particles and Asthma Emergency Department Visits for Children in Seattle. Environ. Health. Persp., 107:489–493.
- Jiang SY, Ma A, Ramachandran S. Negative Air Ions and Their Effects on Human Health and Air Quality Improvement. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(10):2966. Published 2018 Sep 28. doi:10.3390/ijms19102966
- Gabbay J, Bergerson O, Levi N, Brenner S, Eli I. Effect of ionization on microbial air pollution in the dental clinic. Environ Res. 1990 Jun;52(1):99-106. doi: 10.1016/s0013-9351(05)80154-9. PMID: 2351131.
- US EPA. What are ionizers and other ozone generating air cleaners?
- Smart Air. Wearable Air Purifier Necklaces: Do They Work?