I can see how air purifiers seem like a gimmick. I’ve done extensive research on air purifiers and have found several reasons why they are so much more than a ploy to add a gadget to your home. So, if you are interested in finding out why I, as a medical doctor, recommend air purifiers, this is the article for you.
We spend most of our time indoors, therefore the quality of the air we breathe affects our cognitive functions, work performance, energy, and even happiness.
Unfortunately, air quality worsens each year and air pollution has become the most significant environmental health risk nowadays.
For example, India has the most dangerous levels of air pollution in the world. Their figures are five times higher than the recommended levels In India, between 1,6 and 2 million people die prematurely each year due to contaminated air.
Why is the air quality important?
We inhale and exhale approximately 10 000 liters of air per day, 50% of which is made of particulate matter (PM).
PM is a mixture of solid and liquid matter suspended in the air. It is made of hair, dead cells, animal dander, and dust (among other compounds). This dangerous compound causes oxidative injury to the airways, which leads to inflammation, an increased risk of sensitization, and causes structural changes in the tissue of the trachea and bronchia.
Therefore the quality of the air we breathe determines the health of our lungs as well as other organs.
As many studies showed, chronic exposure to air pollutants also results, in vascular inflammation leading to atherosclerosis and the subsequent development of ischemic heart diseases.
Here are the top 5 reasons why an air purifier is a home essential today:
#1 Indoor Pollution
As I’ve already touched on, indoor pollution is the primary reason for you to look at installing an air purifier.
Indoor air pollutants have different sources; they can migrate from outdoor air or be generated by indoor sources such as wall paint, construction materials and furniture. Tobacco smoke is also a well-known indoor pollutant. Domestic emission sources (cooking on a gas stove, burning oils, etc.) are contributing factors.
Staying indoors for long periods, especially in close spaces with poor air circulation, makes us more susceptible to breathing contaminated air. Many of us have suffered some of the effects caused by contaminated air, such as waking up with a runny nose, sneezing, or coughing without an apparent cause. These symptoms tend to improve when we go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Sometimes the effects are persistent since the continual exposure starts modifying our airways and consequently leads to medical problems.
#2 Air Purifiers Help With Dust
Dust is a combination of soil particles, pollen, dead cells, hair, and other debris. However, their composition might vary from home to home. In general, dust is made of big particles easily filtered by most air purifiers. An air purifier will reduce your cleaning frequency. Not only will this result in you using fewer cleaning products but will also reduce your exposure to the harmful contaminants found in them.
#3 Air Purifiers Improve Allergies and Asthma Attacks
According to the CDC, some of the most common asthma and allergy triggers are tobacco smoke, dust mites, mold and cleaning and disinfection products. There is a group of measures to reduce exposure to indoor allergens and, these measures are known as environmental control practices.
Acquiring an air purifier that eliminates will substantially reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. Another invisible trigger might be pollen, which why people with asthma and allergies feel their symptoms appear or worsen in spring. Not every air purifier can eliminate pollen, but if you suffer from these problems you should search for one with a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter effectively eliminates small particles of 0.3 microns in diameter.
By reducing the indoor concentration of pollutants and allergens, it’s possible to alleviate the symptoms of asthma and allergies and improve pulmonary and cardiovascular functions in elderly people.
#4 Reduces viruses from the air
Since the outbreak of coronavirus we have become more aware of respiratory viruses and how dangerous they can be. However, they have always been a problem especially for the elderly. Seasonal flu caused by the influenza virus brought about 400000 hospitalizations, and roughly 22000 deaths in The United States last year. The two most effective ways of reducing respiratory infections are wearing masks (which many people don’t like because they are quite uncomfortable and using air filters.
HEPA filters are highly effective in eliminating viruses suspended in the air. That’s why their initial use was in hospitals, inside operating rooms, intensive care units, and other areas where virus and microbial control is essential. These types of filters are also popular in homes, and some manufacturers make high-quality small units to fit in any home setting.
#5 Get Rid of Bad Smells
Handling smells after cooking is difficult, because they adhere to clothes, hair and basically everything inside our homes. However, the principal problem with smells is that they are caused by very toxic vapors. When oil combuts, it releases volatile aldehyde, which is considered a human carcinogen. In higher concentrations they provoke liver and kidney damage and they can affect the central nervous system and cause cancer.
Only air filters containing activated carbon filters are effective in eliminating smells from toxic vapors to tobacco smoke and even invisible gases such as radon. When these substances, gases, and fumes go through this filter, they get trapped thus eliminating the odor from the air.
Are Air Purifiers a Waste of Money?
It depends on how much you prioritize your health and the indoor air quality of your home or office. It’s recommended to measure the air quality of the spaces you spend the most time in. There are small devices that perform this function and they are very affordable. They give you a general scope of what you are facing and the degree of indoor contamination you are exposed to.
The test is simple and you can also remeasure the quality of your air after purchasing and using your air purifier, thus determining its efficacy.
There are many medical reasons to get an air purifier, especially if you are already suffering symptoms of air pollution.
A classic example of someone suffering from air pollution is if you wake up in the morning with a runny nose, dry throat, coughing, sneezing, and other cold-like symptoms that improve during the day.
There are hidden effects of pollution in your lungs and upper airways that do not manifest noticeably. They are difficult to identify until there is significant and sometimes irreversible damage.
Quick Tips Before Buying an Air Purifier:
*Please consider that my advice may be bias, due to my personal preferences.
Choose an air filter that provides:
- Airflow to assure adequate ventilation.
- Efficient filtering of a range of small particles.
Additionally, corroborate that your air filter does not lose effectiveness after continual use.
I always buy one that has a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. I wrote an article on how to know what is a “true” HEPA filter is since many manufacturers claim they provide this feature, when in fact they do not.
HEPA filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps tiny particles inside. They also filtrate microbes such as viruses, yeast, and mold.
On the other hand, activated carbon filters are the most effective for fumes and gases. They also eliminate tobacco smoke. By choosing an air purifier with both these filters you will protect yourself from the most common contaminants that constitute a health risk.
Now that I’ve provided this information, you can make an informed decision on sourcing an air purifier for your home or office.