Technology FighTs Air PolluTion MonsTer
IT ALL started with an impulsive decision to escape ‘choked Delhi on Diwali’. Having experienced mindcrunching traffic jams mixed with lung-crushing toxic air the previous year, I went on a trip deep into the mountains three days prior to the festival that celebrates victory of knowledge over ignorance. The trip triggered off a chain of events that eventually led to the realisation that we all talk a lot about ‘air pollution’ but know very less and do even lesser about it. Here is my effort to spread a little knowledge and banish some ignorance. Nope, haven’t been paid by the All India Air Purifier Association Bribes and Kickback department. Just stating the facts. Almost any report by the media tends to have a strange footnote stating that the health benefits of air purifiers haven’t been proven! What? A device that reduces indoor air pollution so that what we breathe is 10 times cleaner hasn’t been proven? To make sure this notion is dead and buried once and for all I armed myself with 3 different AQI monitors (the Laser Egg, the Airveda and a Dylos) and did this experiment. I tested the AQI outside and then inside in three different rooms late at night with no air purifier on and then repeated the same with an air purifier in each room set to Turbo mode for 20 minutes. All the monitors reported a room that wasn’t in the danger zone anymore with air levels about 12 times cleaner than outside and about five to six times cleaner inside than before the purifiers started to blow.
How air purifiers can actually help you breathe better
A FEW CAVEATS
The kind of air purifier matters a whole lot. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is critical, one that also has a humidifier built in is great, if it has an Air Quality Sensor that can also report to an app then you’re golden. But if that filter inside is all-clogged-up, then it’s even worse than not having a purifier at all. Also, don’t put your purifier on sleep mode at night. Leave it on auto mode and learn to live with that whirring sound. Shut off the purifier when you leave home, it increases the filter’s life and your room can be brought back to safe levels within minutes of being switched on again. Keep the unit in an elevated position and off the floor – it’s more efficient and doesn’t just suck in house dust. Remember, the purifier can’t purify the air in your whole house, just your room. Air the house everyday in the afternoon (specially if the sun is out) by opening the windows and door and putting on the fan at full speed for a few minutes.
That’s part one. Which air purifier to buy, how to make one yourself, how polluted is the air in your car and ‘do pollution face masks work?’ and much more in next week’s column. Till then: ‘Don’t breathe!’