This article discusses the numerous benefits offered by air purifiers. Furthermore, we discuss certain circumstances under which air quality gets threatened, and how air purifiers help with that.
Do air purifiers help?
Based on research and countless testimonials from multiple users, yes, air purifiers are helpful. Air purifiers are devices that, as the name suggests, purify the indoor air.
There are mainly two types of air purifiers, namely:
- High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
- Air ionisers
These air purifiers can have additional components, such as a UV light chamber, activated carbon filter, and so on, which are mainly designed for widening the range of the device’s efficacy against various pollutants.
Many people wonder whether an air purifier is the right investment. However, in the current scenario, where air pollution is prevalent and worsening with each passing day, especially in urban areas, air purifiers are very vital.
Air pollution is the presence of undesired substances in the form of solids, liquids, or gases, which are suspended in the ambient air, and can adversely affect human health.
These pollutants can be especially harmful if present in the indoor environment. The average human being spends more than 90% of their total lives in an indoor environment, with more than 80% of it inside a building.
Indoor air, just like outdoor air, is susceptible to pollution. Indoor air can get polluted when pollution from outdoors infiltrates through openings such as doors, windows, cracks, seeps, etc.
Indoor air can also get polluted from indoor sources, which can arise from things such as furniture, household items, solvents and dyes, spores from mold and mildew, combustion of fuels and firewood, and hobbies/activities such as smoking, etc.
The pollutants generated from these sources have been shown to adversely affect human health, and continuous exposure to elevated concentrations can cause many serious issues, such as cancers, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, and even death.
This is where air purifiers come in. They help to get rid of the pollutants in the indoor air, thereby keeping it clean and fit to breathe.
When do air purifiers help?
Air purifier have multiple benefits, and some of the main ones include:
- Relieve asthma symptoms
- Eliminate asbestos from ambient air
- Get rid of unpleasant odors
- Can remove radon from indoor air
- Can help increase life expectancy
- Can reduce chances of infections from airborne diseases
We shall discuss these in more detail.
Relieve asthma symptoms
Asthma affects one out of every twelve persons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthmatics have bronchial passages that are irritated.
Pollutants like pet dander, pollen, and dust mites irritate their airways, making breathing difficult.
Many dog and cat breeds shed throughout the year. When these creatures scratch themselves, a lot of hair and dander gets into the air and circulates.
There are additional asthma triggers, such as pollen and dust mites, even if you don’t have pets.
Pollen particles are carried in by the wind through open windows or attach to your clothing when you go outside. However, the most prevalent indoor allergen are dust mites, which thrive in a humid atmosphere.
Lack of fresh air raises interior humidity levels, creating the ideal environment for dust mites to thrive. They feed on dead skin cells and swiftly spread throughout your bed, carpet, and other upholstered furniture.
These pollutants can be removed by vacuuming your bed, carpet, and floors, but some remain floating in the air. Asthma episodes are more likely when you breathe contaminated air.
High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are included in most home air purifiers and are designed to catch all of these contaminants so you can breathe clean air.
Eliminate asbestos from ambient air
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used earlier in a variety of construction materials since it acts as an insulator and a flame retardant.
Although it is now banned in 55 countries, it is still used in major countries such as China, India, Russia, Canada, and the United States, although the EPA and CPSC have banned several asbestos products.
Asbestos is purely an indoor air pollutant, as it concentrates in the indoor air due to activities such as remodelling, cutting, and sanding of asbestos-bearing products.
Elevated concentrations of respirable asbestos particles can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of abdominal and respiratory linings), and asbestosis (irreversible scarring of lung tissues).
Air purifiers can pick up asbestos particles from the indoor air, although it would be better to eliminate asbestos particles by repairing old asbestos-bearing materials by sealing or by covering them.
Get rid of unpleasant odors
At room temperature, certain household items such as Paints, aerosol sprays, upholstered furniture, air fresheners, cleaning products and dyes, etc., contain compounds, such as gasoline, benzene, and formaldehyde, decompose and emit an odour.
These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The stench of VOCs can cause nausea and vomiting, make you short of breath, and even impair your cognitive abilities.
Low VOC levels in the ambient air boost productivity and performance, according to research. HEPA and activated carbon filters in air purifiers are good in trapping gases and particles, reducing pollution in the indoor environment.
Can remove radon from indoor air
Radon is a colourless, odourless, radioactive gas that originates from the radioactive disintegration of uranium present in the nearby soil or the rocks.
Being a relatively heavy and radioactive gas is unique to indoor pollution because of proximity to the soil, where this harmful element might directly penetrate through the building environment, through dirt floors, cracks in concrete walls and floors, floor drains and sumps.
It does not have any short-term effects on health, but long-term exposure to elevated levels of radon can cause lung cancer. An assessment carried out by the US EPA in 2013 indicated there could be as many as 21,000 deaths annually in the US related to lung cancer caused by radon gas.
HEPA filters which contain activated carbon filters are efficient in removing the radon gas from the indoor air. However, it would be ideal to identify and eliminate radon leak inside the house, which can be done by a trained contractor.
Can increase life expectancy
Air purifiers are mainly designed to remove particulate matter, or simply PM, from the indoor air.
PM refers to particles, either solid or liquid, that are mixed and suspended in the air. They are a major part of air pollutants, and have a variety of natural and anthropogenic sources. They usually range between 2.5 to 10 microns (PM10 and PM2.5).
Particulate matter is a major contributor to both long term and short term illnesses. There are many well-documented studies that have shown progression of illnesses with an increase in the concentration of PM.
PM2.5 is of a major concern, as it can easily enter the lower respiratory tract, therefore causing more serious cardiac and respiratory issues.
Moreover, PM is also linked to premature deaths of people who had pre-existing health issues such as people with cardiac or respiratory issues, obesity, asthma, and so on.
Therefore, air purifiers remove PM pollution from indoor air, and can thereby increase life expectancy.
Can reduce chances of infections from airborne diseases
Airborne infections like the common cold and flu are spread by microscopic bacteria floating in the air. When one family member has the flu, the rest of the family is likely to become ill as well.
This occurs because everyone inhales the same air, which is contaminated with germs and viruses. These germs and viruses are captured by air purifiers with HEPA filters.
When you eliminate the source of airborne infections, you protect yourself and your family. Air purifiers are essential if you live with older people, children, people with pre-existing diseases, or those with a weaker immune system.
Air purifiers are very helpful to have as an appliance in your household. Given the worsening of air pollution with each passing day, it is very important to own an air purifier.
Air purifiers are especially helpful for those people who suffer from asthma, who have asbestos-bearing materials in their houses, when there is an unpleasant odor, or a suspicion of radon gas infiltrating indoors.
Using air purifiers in such cases helps to prevent allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and reduce chances of infection from airborne diseases, which in turn could lead to an increase in the life expectancy of the occupant.
Can we keep an air purifier on at all times?
Yes, you should keep your air purifier on at all times. This is because the pollution is more or less continuous in nature, meaning that as long as a source is present, so is air pollution, including dust.
If you turn off your air purifier, the dust particles start aggregating in the indoor air once again, which would eventually affect the health of the occupants adversely.
Furthermore, air purifiers do not consume a lot of electricity for operation, therefore making it feasible to be kept on at all times.
Where should I place my air purifier?
Ideally, you should place your air purifier in a location where the highest rate of air exchange takes place. Air exchange refers to mixing of two different types of air, which in this case refers to indoor air and outdoor air, and from one room to another.
This is because most of the pollution inside the house comes from outdoor sources. This in turn could spread to other rooms of the house. Hence, by placing an air purifier here, spread of pollutants within the house gets hampered.
Furthermore, the ideal place to keep an air purifier is to mount it on a wall, ideally 3-5 feet above the ground. This is because air moves horizontally as well as vertically, and this placement would ensure that the particles present in either air motion get successfully trapped by the air purifier.
How long does it take for an air purifier to clean a room?
This depends mainly on the coverage area of the air purifier, as well as the size of the room. For small rooms, a typical air purifier will clean the air in about 30 minutes.
However, for larger rooms, it can take upto 2 to 3 hours to completely clean the indoor air. But, air purifiers also have an option to vary their flow rates, which could help in getting the job done even faster.
Other FAQs about Air Purifiers and Filters that you may be interested in.
- Amerisleep. 8 benefits of an air purifier
- Live Science. How do air purifiers work.
- WebMD. HEPA filters for allergy relief.
- Healthline. Do air purifiers actually work?