Winter has just knocked the door. And also, the gloomy and hazy weather. The Air Quality Index is showing alarming levels (~900), categorized under “severe” levels. Schools are closed and kids are forced to stay indoors.
But, is the air inside home safe? It feels stuffy to sit at home with all the windows shut. I truly wonder, whether I am safe from harmful smoke pollutants inside my home? Not really!! Sometimes, I feel a burning sensation in my eyes and throat similar to, when I am out in traffic. This scenario is a very common case in most of the Metro cities.
How can you make your home pollution free?
Install an air purifier.
Air purifiers are machines that suck the pollutants (including fine Particulate Matter, PM2.5 particles) from air in indoor settings. Earlier air purifiers were required for people with allergies and Asthma but it is fast becoming an essential need for a busy city household.
In an air purifier, the air passes through three layers of filters and get its bigger particulates cleaned first, then the harmful gases (like methane, carbon monoxide etc.) are adsorbed into a carbon primed middle filter and lastly, the finer particulates (most harmful) are captured through High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
8 things you must look for in an air purifier:
- Must have HEPA filter (as smallest particulate matter which we can’t see is the most harmful)
- Obligate Pre filter mechanism before the air is passed through expensive HEPA filter to increase its shelf life
- Should have adsorbent material like activated charcoal to take care of smelly stuff, fumes and chemicals in the air
- Less noisy or quiet
- May have featured UV light sterilization of pathogens (Ultraviolet light is directed only inside the air purifier and it kills all germs including viruses which can’t be captured by HEPA filters and dust mites). This also helps in keeping the filters free of build up bacterial and fungal film. Easy to maintain but be cautious while buying, to verify that purple light should not come out as it can cause eye damage. Unbreakable quartz bulb only is safe but very expensive and a cheap air purifier can’t have it. So, less benefit may come with added health hazard
- Do not buy Ozone generator purifiers (manufacturers boasts of healthy benefits of ozone but it is actually a harmful gas which when inhaled can cause irritation in throat and lungs)
- Ionizers and most electrostatic precipitators produce ozone as a by-product. Verify the ozone output before buying
- Don’t get fooled by cheap air purifiers boasting of high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). The number only suggests the purifier’s ability to remove pollutants like tobacco smoke, dust and pollen from specific amount of air. It has nothing to do with the effectiveness to filter very small particles (most harmful). Also, higher number does not indicate the better durability of purifier. CADR is often measured at highest setting of the purifier that is often impractical to keep at homes due to noisy operation. Look for high CADR along with specifications like HEPA filters and pre filters (often the expensive ones)
Our pick of best air purifiers in India based on safety concerns and efficiency
Note: IARC (International Agency for Research and Cancer) and WHO (World Health Organization) terms Particulate matter as carcinogens. The effect of breathing long in the air containing particulates can cause asthma, lung cancer, gene mutations, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, premature delivery, congenital defects in babies and premature deaths.