Take Charge of the Air You Breathe

Girish Bapat, Director - West & South Asia Region, Blueair Most people are aware of the outdoor air pollution, but many are ignorant about the indoor air they breathe in their homes or offices. In the past decade an increasing number of studies have highlighted that that particulate matter is a serious health threat which can be life threatening in many ways. The levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 have serious health implications such as asthma, bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms including, shortness of breath, painful breathing, and premature deaths as these tend to get lodged in the lung and can even enter the bloodstream. As per a WHO study, over 1.5 million people in India loose their lives to air pollution. But indoor air pollution alone claims the lives of almost a million people in the country, the highest in the world.

However, it is important to start speaking more about indoor air pollution which is a more serious and potentially fatal problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be two to four times, and occasionally up to hundred times, more polluted than outdoor air. Given that indoors (home & workplace) is where we spend 90% of our time and while we are unable to improve the air outside, we can take proactive, individual steps to head off airborne pollutants to create safer indoor environments.

One of the most important steps in prevention of indoor air pollution is educating and spreading awareness among people about the issue and the serious threat it poses to the health and well being. Young mothers, children and people with medical needs such as asthma and other respiratory problems are most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

Keeping your home clean is one of the most important activities you can do to assure healthy indoor air quality. However, the indoor use of certain common
cleaning products and air fresheners when ozone (the primary component of smog outdoors) is present may cause an increase in indoor concentrations of some pollutants. Fortunately, people who use these products can take simple steps to reduce the production of air pollutants and their exposure to these pollutants.

Rising air pollution levels have boosted the demand for air purifiers in India, leading to many players entering this segment. However, buying an air purifier can be a confusing affair when there are umpteen brands to choose from but no defined standards in the country yet. There are many air purifiers in the market and it is very important to select and buy the right indoor air purifier suitable to your home or office.

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind when buying an air purifier is its efficiency. The standards to determine the efficiency of air purifiers rely broadly on the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which is the volume of clean air that a machine can deliver in a set amount of time. The higher the CADR number, the faster the rate at which the room air purifier removes indoor air pollutants. CADR is independently tested and certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Many air purifiers have a CADR number, but may not be verified by AHAM. For best results, look for the AHAM Verified symbol. With the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) standard, it’s easy to tell which room air purifier works best.

Secondly, the term “high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters” used by air purifier retailers are misunderstood by most customers. As per the existing standards, an air purifier is certified as HEPA-compliant only if it can remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 micrometer in diameter or lower. Therefore, besides ensuring that the air purifier has a genuine HEPA filter, it has to filter out PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less) particles at a high CADR. This ensures the air in the room is being continually cleaned.

Thirdly, the room size should be kept in mind. Customers should always go for models that are designed to purify the air in a slightly larger space than the actual target room size. To choose the right air purifier size, measure the length and width of the room, then multiply the two for the total area in square meters. Standard room sizes are based on an 2,4 meters ceiling height. The AHAM recommended room size of an air purifier is based on five air changes per hour, which means that the unit filters the total air volume in the room every 12 minutes. Then make sure that the recommended room size on the AHAM label on the unit’s packaging matches the size of your room.

Other factors that can be taken into consideration are low noise levels, power efficiency, IoT control and cost of replacing filters. An energy-efficient room air purifier can use as little as 20 watts of power running at its highest setting while another can draw up to 200 watts. To save money and the environment, look for the Energy Star label.

It’s advisable to take necessary precautions and make use of the technology solutions like air purifiers to combat the effects of air pollution.