Clearing the air we breathe
Clearing the air we breathe

Clearing the air we breathe

Wednesday, Sep 23, 2015 0 comment(s)

Delhi’s air quality is alarming, as recent reports indicate. Thankfully, an air purifier can help in these polluted times

There is no way to sugar-coat this—the quality of air in Delhi is worse than in Beijing, China, according to an air-quality monitoring survey report released recently by Greenpeace. The non-governmental organization accumulated the air-quality data from five schools in the city. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) levels in Delhi’s air is four times more than the prescribed India-specific safety limit.

Air pollution is a big problem in most Indian cities. According to WHO, 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India; these include Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Agra. The causes include industrial and vehicular emissions, construction activities, generators and burning of agricultural residue.

Diseases caused by air pollution include irregular cardiac rhythm, which can lead to heart attack, lung disorder, respiratory infection, bronchitis, pneumonia and stroke.

An average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. But we hardly pay any attention to the element we are consuming the most every day—air. Since most of us cannot shift to another city, the next best we can do is contain the amount of pollution going into our lungs. And air purifiers allow us to do that, to a certain extent. They cannot remove carbon monoxide or propane, but can filter out the biggest pollutants—particulate matter, aldehydes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ethers, esters, ketones, halogens and sulfur dioxide.

“If you are buying (air purifiers), pick up models by the likes of Sharp and Blueair, because they are more effective. A good air purifier can remove certain pollutants, but cannot reduce carbon dioxide,” says New Delhi-based Barun Aggarwal, director of Breathe Easy. Aggarwal’s company offers custom solutions, which combine an air purifier with plants such as areca palm, money plant and sansevieria, to improve indoor air quality.

But as with heaters, which can lower the humidity in a room, do air purifiers have any drawbacks? “At present, no side-effects of air purifiers have been reported. While I don’t personally prescribe air purifiers, I won’t stop someone from using it since we are not aware of their repercussions,” says Ashish Jain, senior consultant, pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi. “Air filters that remove small particles, such as high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters, are effective in removing allergens from the air, without posing any ozone concerns. Apart from that, to work effectively, filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly,” adds Vivek Anand Padegal, consultant pulmonologist at Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru.

Here are some air purifiers that can help you breathe better indoors, at home or in office. The indoor purifiers mentioned here work best in room sizes around 15x15ft.

Philips AC4072


This 47-watt purifier uses a four-stage cleaning process. First, the antibacterial pre-filter catches bigger dust particles. In the next stage, the Hepa filter removes ultra-fine particles larger than 20 nanometers, including some viruses (such as the avian influenza and human influenza viruses). In the third stage, the carbon filter removes odours and harmful gases. At the end, the Hepa filter, with its antibacterial coating, filters out fine dust, eliminates germs and mould. The purifier also has a boost function, which speeds up the air-cleaning process. There are also the LED status indicators, which tell you how clean the air is at that point of time—blue (very good), deep purple (good), purple (fair) and red (bad).

Sharp FU-A80E-W


This 27-watt purifier includes a humidifier (8-litre water tank), which helps prevent breathing ailments such as cough and dry throat. The FU-A80E-W uses Hepa and active carbon filters. The Plasmacluster ion sanitizing technology controls and removes airborne viruses and moulds. The internals have been designed to improve the airflow.

Philips AC4025


Philips has a wide range of air purifiers, and this 30-watt model is perfect for most users. A two-stage purification process is used—the carbon filter catches big particles not visible to the naked eye, such as house dust, and removes odours and harmful gases. In the next stage, the Hepa filter cleans out the fine dust, bacteria and allergens. The AC4025 can be set to work for a set number of hours—1,4 or 8, after which it automatically goes into power-saving mode. A filter health warning light is illuminated when the air filter needs replacing.

Eureka Forbes EuroAir Energie


This brand is well known for its water purifiers. Now the company has diversified into making indoor air purifiers as well. The Energie deploys the Hepa filter as well as double ultraviolet filtration with TiO2, a technology that kills bacteria, germs and biological pollutants. When switched on, the device automatically detects the prevalent quality of air, and switches between power modes. It comes with a remote control for ease of use.

Blueair Sense


This serves a purpose, while looking good. The Sense is designed by Sweden’s architectural and design agency Claesson Koivisto Rune and has won many awards—Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and Germany’s Red Dot Award. Its metal body adds a generous dose of sophistication. The Hepa filter is paired with a carbon screen to stop smoke and gas. The wraparound grille design increases airflow. The top panel is made of tempered glass with a backlit touch panel of concentric rings to indicate fan speed and power on/off status. There is a motion sensor below the panel, which allows users to wave a hand over it to change fan speed or switch the device on or off. 

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