The Coronavirus pandemic has made many people take the air quality of their surroundings more seriously. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended wearing a face mask because COVID-19 is known to spread primarily between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes.
Prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the air is reputed for being a medium of transmission for viruses that could cause respiratory diseases. Although not enough to protect against COVID-19, air purifiers according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency can reduce airborne contaminants including viruses.
Air purifiers filter the pollutants in the air that passes through them before recirculating the quality air around the room.
Despite the numerous health benefits offered by the use of air purifiers, below are some things to consider to make an informed and best decision before buying one.
1. Types of air purifiers
There are different types of air purifiers and they are usually distinguished by the type of filter in them. Generally, there are four common types of air purifiers.
- Ultraviolet air purifiers
Air purifiers that make use of ultraviolet (UV) technology can capture and destroy viruses and bacteria in the air. The use of UV filters in air purifiers was inspired by its effectiveness in hospitals where it is used to disinfect laboratories. However, there are concerns UV air purifiers could emit ozone gas, dangerous for people with asthma.
- HEPA air purifiers
HEPA air purifiers make use of High-Efficient Particulate Air” filters which can trap above 85% of particles (such as pollen, dust, and dander) in the air sucked by the purifier before recirculating the filtered air to the room. The standard for a filter to qualify as HEPA varies. In Europe, HEPA filters must remove 99.95% of particles while in the US, they must remove 99.7% of particles. However, they can trap particles with sizes of about 0.3 microns in diameter and above.
- Activated Carbon Air Purifiers
Activated carbon filters in these kinds of air purifiers are effective in removing smoke, odors, fumes and gases from the air in a room. They remove pollutants through a process called adsorption. The trapped pollutants stick to the outside of the carbon. It is a good option for people who are very sensitive to odor.
- Ionic air purifiers
They are very quiet during operation because they don’t make use of a motor to suck in air to purify. Instead, they emit negative ions into the air in the room. The released ions bond with positively charged pollutants such as dust making them become heavy and fall out of the air. Some have electrostatic precipitators that trap positively charged pollutants on a metal plate.
The price of air purifiers varies. It is usually good to ensure spending on the purchase of an air purifier does not significantly affect other important things at home. The size of a room will determine the size of the filter to get. Also, the type of air purifier chosen will determine the amount likely to be expended. If your budget does not permit the purchase of an air purifier or is not enough to buy the most suitable for your room and purpose, it is better to delay and practise a lifestyle that reduces air pollutants such as avoiding smoking indoors. If it can’t wait, you can always find a way around your budget.
Aside from the price of buying an air purifier, it is important to also consider the price of air purifier replacement filters. For people with asthma and allergy, experts recommend changing the filter within two months. Some manufacturers recommend changing it within 3-6 months while most strongly advise it is changed within 12-18 months for optimal performance.
4. Noise Rate
Air purifiers are typically placed in a room for comfort and improved air quality. Noise emitted from their use should be minimal rather than causing a headache. Choose air purifiers with less than 50 decibels (50dB). The lesser the noise, the more comfortable it use, and considering the environment is usually quieter at night, an air purifier with loud operating noise would be worse to use in the evening.
Purchase an air purifier from a manufacturer who offers a warranty. Reputable brands offer warranties between 1-2 years. It is also necessary to check the certification of the brand. Some air purifier certifications include ECARF, AHAM, CARB, and Power Star.
For optimal performance, air purifier manufacturers usually combine different filters to trap air pollutants. Such air purifiers are recommended as they ensure most particles and pollutants are filtered.