We unfortunately live in a time where air purifiers are a necessity in most cities. The dust from construction, industrial pollution, vehicle emissions, crop burning and more makes many North Indian cities extremely polluted. So much so that 7 out of the top 10 highly air polluted cities are in India. Even so, many are still reluctant to buy air purifiers due to many myths surrounding them. Let us address some such common myths.
Air Purifier Makes You More Vulnerable To Outdoor Pollution
Many believe that just like how exposure to germs improves your immunity, exposure to pollutants makes you less vulnerable to air pollution. This however couldn’t be further from truth. Constant exposure to indoor pollutants like dust, smoke, formaldehyde and other VOCs have a long-term impact on your health. And contrary to popular belief, indoor air pollutants can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels, causing more harm than outdoor air. Hence, it is important that you protect yourself and family by ensuring proper ventilation and using an air purifier if necessary.
Air Purifiers Are Not Effective For Large Rooms
Certain air purifier manufacturers themselves claim that air purifiers have a tendency to circulate the same air through the purification system creating an air bubble. As a result, air in places away from the air purifier remains unclean and the air purifier cleans air just around it. However, in our tests, we have found this claim to be false. Even budget-friendly air purifiers take in air from all over the room and releases purified air back in spaces as large as 450 Sq.ft. All you have to take care of is placing the air purifier centrally and at least 30-45cm away from the wall.
All Air Purifiers Are Alike
Most air purifiers have similar working mechanism. But they are not alike. They have a motor that takes in the air from outside and passes it through a pre-filter, activated carbon filter and HEPA filter and then releases the purified air back into the room. The similarity ends there.
The main differentiating aspects between different air purifiers are the motor capacity which decides how much air it can purify in a given time and the grade of the HEPA filter which determines the cleaning efficiency. Moreover, certain air purifiers come with ionizer which release ozone in minute amount. This could cause adverse health effects on asthmatics and those with respiratory related illness. Hence, it is important to understand that air purifiers are different and buy one that best suits your needs.
Plants Are Sufficient For Air Purification
NASA released a list of air purifying plants and ever since, they have been in vogue. This has caused a high demand for plants like peace lilly, snake plant, Areca palm and more. But how effective are they at purifying air? Well, studies have found that a single plant is able to clean just 0.062 cubic metre of air per hour. Another study finds that a indoor plants can at the best clean just 0.9 to 9% of ozone indoors. The researchers in fact suggest to make any effective difference, you need to fill a room from top to bottom with plants like a green wall, which isn’t practical in most homes.
So while plants do improve the mood of the inhabitants and aesthetics of the room, it isn’t really advisable to depend on just plants for purifying the air.
Blue Light In Air Purifiers Mean Clean Air
Most air purifiers have an LED light ring which turns red or violet when air quality is poor and blue or green when air quality is good. However, what is the parameter for saying the air quality “good”?
In our tests we have found that air quality indicator in some air purifiers remain blue when the PM 2.5 level is as high as 150 ppm. And the worst part is that if the air purifier is in auto mode, its fan speed reduces to the minimal level even when the PM 2. is at such high levels.
According to standards, PM 2.5 of less than 35 is what should be called ‘good’. Hence, ideally, opt for air purifiers that show real time PM 2.5 levels numerically. Else, always run the air purifier in turbo mode for at least 15-20 minutes before turning to auto mode so that the surrounding air is satisfactorily purified.
Air Purifiers Can Replace Exhaust Fans
Air purifiers and exhaust fans serve different purposes. Air purifiers are used to eliminate dust, dander, VOCs, formaldehyde and other airborne pollutants. Exhaust fans on the other hand are used for ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms. They remove air from indoors and bring in air from outside, which isn’t something air purifiers are capable of. Hence, they are not replaceable.
Air Purifiers Can Remove All Pollutants
Air purifiers are fairly effective at removing dust, dander, VOCs and formaldehyde. But, they cannot effectively remove many other common pollutants like radon gas, carbon monoxide, strong odours and chemical fumes and even bacteria and viruses.
Air Purifiers Prevents Illness
One of my neighbours’ daughter often gets cold and cough. They bought an air purifier in hope of getting a respite from this. However, they did not. Air purifiers are capable of purifying air of contaminants larger than 0.3 microns. Many of the viruses and bacteria are much smaller than this, typically less than 0.02 microns. So, no. Unfortunately, air purifiers do not prevent illness.
Expensive Air Purifiers Are Always Better
As mentioned earlier, an air purifier essentially comprises a prefilter, an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter. Good air purifiers have sensitive air quality sensors which responds well to an increase in PM level. But, such air purifiers are also available at a budget-friendly pricing. Expensive air purifiers often come with bells and whistles like smart features, realtime PM level indicators and more. But, they aren’t exactly a necessity.
Air Purifiers Always Helps Sleep Better
One of the common reasons why kids don’t sleep well is allergy triggered by dust mites. These dust mites are invisible pathogens that feed on dead human skin and their feces contain certain proteins that trigger allergic reaction. Unfortunately, dust mites are not airborne and hence cannot be captured by air purifiers. You have to clean the mattress using a HEPA vacuum cleaner and wash the linens in hot water of more than 60 °C to get rid of dust mites.
So, if your sleep is disturbed due to dust or such airborne allergens, air purifiers can be of help. Otherwise, you have to find the root cause and eliminate them for better sleep.