Air Purifiers: All You Need to Know

If you care about your respiratory system and your general health you might be interested in an air purifier.

Air pollution is a serious issue that causes actual deaths, 6.5 million deaths were caused by air pollution in the year 2012 according to (WHO) and it accounts for one-third of deaths caused due to stroke, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

air pollution

An air purifier is part of the air purification system that is required to purify the air in indoor environments, it requires a good ventilation system in conjunction to be fully capable to purify the air.

There are two types of pollutants that exist in the air: Particulate Matter (PM) and gaseous pollutants, air purifiers need to be able to deal with both of these air pollutants to be considered as a good air purifier.

How to Deal with Indoor Polluted Air

There are three strategies that can help us clean the air that we breathe in indoor environments: source control, ventilation, usage of air purification systems, or air purifiers as we know it.

Source control is the most efficient and effective way to deal with polluted air and it is basically to eliminate the source of pollution from the start.

like if there’s someone smoking in an indoor environment, that is a source of air pollution and source control would be to ask that person to stop smoking so the air doesn’t get polluted. This is the best strategy to purify the air but it is not always feasible like if you are cooking, for example, this is a necessary activity that you have to do so you will need to look for other strategies to purify the air.

Ventilation is creating a funnel between indoor and outdoor environments so that air is exchanged and is not trapped inside the indoor environment, so windows and HVACs actually help clean the air of indoor environments.

Windows in a house are the best sources for ventilation and it is always advisable to live in a ventilated environment in situations of air pollution.

The third solution is using air purifiers and this is what the rest of the article is all about.

What Is an Air Purifier?

An air purifier is a device that is responsible for cleaning the air inside indoor environments, it doesn’t work alone, it needs a good ventilation system in order for maximum efficiency and better results.

The first version of air purifiers was invented in 1830 by Charles Anthony Deane it was a simple device that captured the essence of what an air purifier is supposed to do, it was then further developed by doctors and engineers until it has reached the recent form it is on today.

Air purifiers can be used in any indoor environment where air quality is a necessity, it could be used in homes, hotels, factories, and hospitals. If air quality is a thing that you worry about then air purifiers might be the right choice for you because it works to increase air quality and remove air pollutants and allergens from the air.

How Does an Air Purifier Wok

There are several methods air purifiers use to filtrate, purify, and clean the air, each has its own characteristics and works efficiently on certain types of pollutants.

First, there are mechanical filters and these work on capturing particulate matter. mechanical filters are composed of a meshed structure in which air is forced to pass by. The pore size of the mesh is the most important factor for determining the efficiency of the filter. Pollutants that have a greater size of the pore size are unable to pass and are captured by the filter thus leading to purified air.

HEPA filters are the most used type of mechanical filters for filtering out PM pollutants from indoor air. They have an efficiency of removing 99.97% of particulate matter of size less than 0.3 microns from contaminated air ensuring a flow rate anywhere between 150-400 cubic feet per minute depending on the clogging of their pores

HEPA filters appear in the form of pleated paper which is actually a very dense network of glass fibers.

It is customary to use a pre-filter with HEPA filters in order to increase their life between subsequent replacements. Pre-filters are essential to trap the relatively larger particulates present in air so that they do not unnecessarily clog the HEPA pores.

Another type of filters are electronic filters that aren’t actually filters instead they are electronic devices that create an electric field for ionizing the particles passing through it.

Electrostatic Smoke Precipitators (ESP) are electronic air filters that work on the principle of corona discharge. The air in ESP is forced to pass through two terminals, the first is a negatively discharged terminal that charges the pollutants in the air with a negative charge, then the air is forced to pass through another terminal that is positively charged, what happens then is that the negatively charged pollutants gravitated towards the positively charged terminal which purifies the air from the pollutants and results in clean air.

The advantage of ESP over HEPA filters is that the particulate matter size doesn’t matter, if the supply voltage is high enough ESP can capture all the pollutants inside the air.

There are other reasons that make HEPA filters more popular than ESP filters which I may cover in another article.

Activated carbon is another method that is used to purify the air, it is used to filter out gaseous pollutants present in the air, that is good for smoke and odors purification.

Air purification using Ultra Violet (UV) light is a method that is effective at purifying the air from bacteria and pathogens. The process is simple, A source of UV radiation is selected appropriately which emits UV radiations in the surrounding medium. Polluted air is made to pass through this medium as a result of which, the bacteria and pathogens present in the air get filtered out.

These are the general methods for purifying the air and the most common for commercially used air purifiers, there are other modern methods that you could check from this study done by Aditya Roy Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and his fellows.

Some of the modern methods are Pan filters, Photocatalytic materials and technologies, Composite membranes using soy proteins, and Ultrathin silk nanofibril membranes.

What Is the Purpose of an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are part of air purification systems that are used to clean the air in indoor environments and purify the air from the pollutants that it holds.

Air purifiers don’t work alone, it needs a good ventilation system in order to clean the air efficiently and reduce the amount of air pollution in the environments.

How does it achieve that? It achieves that through filtering the air through mechanical filters electronic filters, chemical filters, or through UV light that burns the cells of the bacteria in the air.

So basically the purpose of an air purifier is to purify the air from air pollutants, what are these air pollutants?

Dust

Dust is one of the pollutants that reduce the quality of the air in indoor environments, it makes your home look messy and unorganized, is a source for negative energy and stress, can actually cause allergies and sickness, and it makes cleaning your home a hard chore to do.

dust

Odors

Inside your home you will always be cooking and preparing food, you love cooking and nothing is better than home-made food you cook inside your kitchen but if there were just a device that could remove the unwanted smell of your cooking, well, air purifiers are here to help. Air purifiers will help you remove unwanted odors and smell from your house so you can cook or participate in any activity inside your home without having to worry about the smell.

Smoke

Smoking doesn’t only hold risks on the smoker himself only, actually, the air gets polluted by smoke, and everyone around the smoker gets affected in a negative way, so air purifiers are a great solution to clean the air from smoke that doesn’t only harm the smoker but everyone around him.

Allergies

Dust could irritate your allergies and cause asthma and that is definitely not wanted, air purifiers could help reducing dust in the indoor environment and remove every other allergy irritating source so you can enjoy your time inside your home without worrying about your allergies getting irritated.

Mold

Mold could ruin your home and make it look unclean and unorganized, air purifiers can help you combat the mold inside your house so your house looks tidy and clean again.

Do Air Purifiers Make Air Dry?

To answer that we need to first understand what is dry air? Dry air is the air that has no water vapor, a low humidity air.

From our knowledge of air purifiers, we know it works to reduce air pollutants which are dust, mold, smoke, and bacteria. It doesn’t affect humidity at all, so no air purifiers don’t make air dry because it doesn’t affect water vapor levels in the air.

Air Purifier Benefits

On average, Americans spend 90% of their time in indoor environments, the air in indoor environments is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air in outdoor environments. This means you are exposed to more amounts of pollution most of the time, which holds more health risks and exposes you to more diseases.

Air pollution accounts for one-third of deaths caused due to stroke, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

These statistics have a clear message: breathing quality air is not a luxury, it is a serious issue that can save your life

So how can you breathe quality air if you spend most of your time in indoor environments where the air is 5 times more polluted? The answer is: air purifier.

Air purifiers are considered a solution that will significantly help you breathe clean and purified air that doesn’t hold pollutants that will damage your respiratory system and cause you sickness.

The key benefit of air purifiers is that it provides clean air, so the question becomes: what are the benefits of clean air?

Here’s the answer…

Benefit #1: Regulated Bacteria In the Air

Microbes in the air could cause a lot of trouble and could make you prone to a lot of health risks, this could be bacteria, fungi, or allergens that can make you sick with all the different kinds of diseases.

Air purifiers have been proven to significantly reduce microbial contamination in the air and decrease the frequency of medications used for children with asthma in a study done by Ga Hee Lee from Inha University.

This means that the health risks that you are exposed to when you are spending time in an indoor polluted space are going to be reduced when you start using air purifiers that will remove pollutants in the air.

Benefit #2: Reduced Asthma Suffering

Asthma could be triggered by a lot of indoor air pollutants such as dust, pet dander, and pollen. A HEPA filter air purifier can help capture these allergens that can trigger your asthma and make it worse.

Lots of studies have been conducted that proved the efficiency and the effectiveness of air purifiers against asthma and many doctors have recommended air purifiers for asthma and rhinitis sufferers.

Benefit #3: Reduced Acne

Did you know that polluted air can actually have an impact on how your skin looks?

Experts have revealed that living in a city where the air is polluted could actually cause you acne and pimples.

An air purifier would clean the air from bacteria, fungus, and other pollutants that could cause you acne and trouble.

Benefit #4: Lowered Risk of Heart Diseases

Long-term exposure to particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2:5 micron (PM2:5) has previously been associated with progression in atherosclerosis, the pathophysiological process behind IHD, and a large share of strokes.

This means that living in a space where the air is polluted can actually cause you heart diseases and strokes, so clean air which you will get from air purifiers will actually reduce the risk of this happening because it will reduce the amount of particulate matter in the air which means lower probability of the heart diseases caused by particulate matter happening to you or to your loved ones.

Benefit #5: Anti-Aging Benefits

Exposure to toxins in the air is one of the factors of modern aging, toxic gases in the air such as radon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide.

A new study about residential radon exposure in Switzerland shows that the radioactive gas radon increases the risk of developing malignant skin cancer. “Our study shows that, when radon decays, radioactive alpha particles not only destroy lung tissue but can also affect the skin” says Martin Röösli, professor for environmental epidemiology at Swiss TPH, who wrote the study together with Danielle Vienneau, senior scientific collaborator at the Institute.

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can cause the skin to turn a cherry-red color. In some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause erythema, blistering, and necrotic skin lesions on the hands, legs, back, and ankles.

Benefit #6: Improved Athletic Performance

Polluted air has negative effects on the respiratory system, and the respiratory system is a very critical system for athletes, it is the main system that provides oxygen to the whole body, so if the respiratory system is malfunctioning the performance of the whole body will be malfunctioned and the performance of athletes will never reach its peak and its potential will not be fully utilized due to breathing polluted air.

So by breathing clean air, you are allowing your body to restore its health and improve its performance so the respiratory system works with its full potential again and serves the muscles and provides it with the oxygen it needs to perform the best.

Benefit #7: Better Cognitive Performance

The whole body is connected together and the respiratory system is a critical system that feeds every cell in the body and provides it with the oxygen it needs, so any malfunctioning in this system will have an impact on the whole body and your brain is nothing different.

A study conducted by Dr.Jennifer Weuve has found that Long-term exposure to Particulate Matter 2.5-10 microns and PM 2.5 at levels typically experienced by many individuals in theUnited States is associated with significantly worse cognitive decline in older women.

Many studies in this area have enforced this idea, polluted air has an effect on the cognitive abilities of humans at different age groups.

How Do I Choose an Air Purifier

So now you understand the basic idea of an air purifier and the importance of it, it is a device that has one job: to provide you with clean air, and in order to do that job it uses different kinds of filtration techniques that clean the air from the pollutants so you are able to breathe purified air.

Now you’ve got interested, polluted air is a serious issue that damages the respiratory system and consequently, the whole body and you don’t want that to happen, you want to live a healthy life so you decide to buy yourself and your family an air purifier so you can breathe clean air.

The question becomes: How to pick an air purifier?

Define Your Needs

Air purifiers use different kinds of filters and different kinds of technologies and each technology solve a different problem than the other, for example active carbon filters purify the air from toxic gases while HEPA filters clean the air from Particulate Matter that is floating around the air and Ultraviolet light cleans the air from bacteria and viruses so you need to define exactly why do you want to purchase an air purifier, what problem do you want the air purifier to solve, what do you suffer from the most?

Air purifiers could have multiple filters and solve multiple problems, for example an air purifier could have both an active carbon filter and HEPA filter so it can achieve two goals and clean the air from two types of pollutants.

Air Purifier’s Buying Criteria

There are some criteria that determine if you should buy the air purifier that you are looking at or not, here’s what to look for:

Construction of the Air Purifier

The first thing you will want to look at is the construction of your air purifier, does it fulfill your needs and solves the problem you are looking for a solution for. If you are buying the air purifier for dust, pet dander, pollen, or any other allergens then you will want your purifier to have a HEPA filter, if you are buying for smoke and odors then you will want one with an activated carbon filter, and if you want it for bacteria and viruses then you will want an Ultra Violet light air purifier.

Based on your specific needs you will want to look into the construction of the air purifier so you can find a product that fulfills your needs and solves your problems.

Size

Size is one of the factors that determine the amount of air the air purifier can purify per hour, this is extremely important because if you want to purify a large room then you will need to buy an air purifier that has a large size so the room can get cleaned effectively.

Noise

Air purifiers pull the air through a fan, this fan can be a source of noise to you especially if you are going to use the air purifier in your master bedroom or in the kids’ bedroom. You’ll find noise-level ranges measured in decibels in your device’s specs so you can pick a relatively quiet air purifier for your bedroom so you can sleep peacefully.

Energy Costs

Air purifiers need to work all the time in order to be effective, that’s going to add to the costs of energy consumption of your home, so you want to look for a purifier that is efficient at energy consumption so your electricity bill doesn’t rise so high.

You’ll find some air purifiers that have the Energy Star logo, this certification means that this air purifier is 40 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.

CADR

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is a measurement that reflects the amount of clean air the air purifier can produce on its highest settings. It is an important factor to consider because it determines if an air purifier is going to be able to purify the air of large rooms or not, if you are picking an air purifier for your kids’ room then you might want to pick a low CADR air purifier but if you are picking it for a larger room you will definitely need a high CADR rating air purifier.

Portability

Portability is something to consider when buying an air purifier, is it portable or stationary because that is going to determine the flexibility in which you are going to be using that air purifier.

So if you want to use an air purifier for multiple rooms you might want to consider a portable air purifier instead of a stationary one.

How to Maintain Air Purifier

To keep your air purifiers working efficiently you will need to maintain them periodically, typically each month, the maintenance procedure is simple:

Pre-filters: will be washed or replaced based on the model you’ve purchased

HEPA filters: will be replaced when needed

Activated carbon filter: will be replaced when needed

Electrostatic Smoke Precipitators (ESP): wash the plates periodically by taking them out of the system and washing them separately.

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