This winter beat pollution with air purifiers

It has been over a month since we last saw the blue sky in Delhi. The amount of pollution is such that even at noon, the capital of India looks all wrapped in smog. Worse, it not only makes the city seem hideous and ghastly, the dirty and pollution-laden air is a serious health hazard.

Now, there are no shortcuts to deal with the ridiculously high-level of pollution. It is a health emergency and unless drastic (and big) measures are not taken by the government in earnest, it is only going to get worse. But as an individual, you can take a look at the air purifiers for temporary relief, at least indoors. Unlike smartphones or televisions, where it is easy to see what you are getting, shopping for an air purifier is not easy. So, if you are thinking of buying an purifier but aren’t sure about what it can do and which ones you should consider, here is a handy guide for you.

What is an air purifier?

Think of it like this: an air purifier is just like an air cooler. A cooler draws in air using a fan and then pushes it through the water-drenched filters to make it cool. The air filter does the same. But instead of making the air cool, it pushes that air through very fine filters that remove particulate matter. Once the particulate matter has been removed, the clean air is circulated back into the room. Depending on the size of the room and capacity of the air purifier, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to clean the air.

How effective it is?

For small rooms, where the doors and windows are mostly kept shut, air purifiers can be very effective. But at the same time, they don’t clean air the way water purifiers clean water. In most cases, there is no chemical treatment of the air. And irrespective of the cleaning method or the air purifier, you should also not lose the sight of the fact that it is very difficult to clean air 100 per cent.
Air purifiers are good at removing particulate matter (smog, dust, pollens, soot and organic matter etc). Depending on the quality of the air purifier even very fine particles that have a size of less than 2.5 microns. Most of the pollution in Delhi (or for that matter in city centres) is due to particulate matter.

However, air purifiers can’t help with gaseous contamination. They also, in most cases, can’t remove odour or heavy particulate matter that tends to settle on the floor and is not in the air.

The key bit to note here is that irrespective of the effectiveness of the air purifier, it is impossible to get 100 per cent clean air, especially in a city like Delhi where air is too dirty to be cleaned effectively.

That said, if you can afford to get a air purifier it is worth keeping it in your bedroom or drawing room. It definitely won’t do any harm.

Things to look for while buying air purifier:

Brand: Air purifiers are relatively simple machines. Hence, there are tens of different brands selling these devices. But ideally, you should stick to a well known brand such as Blueair, Panasonic or Philips etc. Also, make sure that the air purifier you are buying uses HEPA filters because they are guaranteed to remove around 99 per cent pollutants.

Portability and weight: While there are air purifiers that act as central air purifying device for the whole house, they are expensive and may not be viable for most consumers. Instead of that, go with something that strikes the right balance between size and performance. A very small air purifier may look good but it may not have enough capacity to clean air in a room effectively. While a purifier that is too big may not be a good investment because you may have to use it as a fixed unit in one room.

Capacity: You won’t really know how effective is an air purifier until you use it but while buying one look for the CADR (clean-air delivery rate). Though many manufacturers try to hide this number from consumers. Better performing air purifiers have higher CADR number. Usually anything above 300 is fantastic. Anything lower than 100 is not useful.

Don’t bother with superfluous features: Some air purifiers claim to remove odour etc or claim to give chemical or electronic treatment to make the air purer. These are nice feature to have but don’t buy an air purifier solely because of these features. In fact, avoid air purifiers that claim to chemically treat air. The Consumer Reports advises that people should avoid these fancy gadgets because they often add ozone to the air. Now, ozone is wonderful for earth when it is suspended up there in the atmosphere but it is not nice when mixed into the air that you breath in a room.

Noise: All air purifiers have fans and they make noise. But some are noisier than others. Avoid noisy air purifiers.

Some notable air purifiers:

Panasonic F-PXH55M: This is a fairly high-end Panasonic air purifier, suitable for a medium-size room. In fact, Panasonic says that it can keep air clean in a room as big as 452 square feet. Although the real-world performance may not be as impressive as the claim on the paper, the F-PXH55M can move impressive amount of air (5.5m3/minute or in words above 300m3/hr) at its maximum speed.

This air purifier sells for a price of around Rs.29,000.

Blueair Classic 270E: Blueair is a serious player in the air purifier market and has a number of very high-end products on sale. However, the Classic 270E is the one you should look out for when buying an air purifier for a room. The company says that the 270E is good enough for 240sq-ft rooms. It uses Blueair’s proprietary HEPASilent filtration process to capture up to 99.97 per cent of airborne particles down to 0.1 micron in size. It sells for a price of around Rs.47,000.

Philips AC4072: Tastefully designed, this is the air purifier that you should get if you are keen on something that won’t look out of place in your slick drawing room. Philips says that the AC4072 can cover an area of more than 550sq-ft and has an effective air cleaning rate of 320 m3/h, which is fantastic. The AC4072 sells for a price of around Rs.32,000.

 

Sharp FP-F40E: Relatively small and lightweight, the FP-F40E is a good portable air purifier. It claims to work effectively in a area of around 30 square meter and at its high-speed can move around 240 m3/h air, which considering its size is very good. Just like other purifiers in this list it uses HEPA filter as well as has features that claim to remove odour from air. It sells for around Rs.21,000.

Honeywell Air Touch: Honeywell is a well-known home appliances maker and many of its air purifiers are considered best in the business. The Air Touch is a well-designed and slick looking air purifier. In fact, if you are some who like the minimalist Apple gadgets, Honeywell Air Touch’s touch will appeal to you. Apart from looks, the Air Touch also performs well enough. The air purifier can effectively deal with air in a 270 sq-ft room and has a peak performance of around 300 m3/h. It sells for around Rs.28,000.

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