We’re all getting a lot more savvy when it comes to our health. Beyond what we’re putting in our bodies, we’re paying more attention to the invisible exposure that we come into contact with on a daily basis. In essence, “we’ve become hyper-clean,” explains Cult Beauty’s co-founder, Alexia Inge. “And as we look for functional items to meet new needs – cleanliness, safety, protection – these once enthusiasm-free categories will attract new attention.”
Hygiene is the new luxury as we seek to filter out toxicity. Now, more than ever, this applies to our homes and in particular, the air inside. “The home has been reinvented for maximum wellness,” says Alexia. “Setting your pad up as a place of static-escape, womb-like nurture and safety is the new ‘wellterior’ trend and a burgeoning Pinterest preoccupation.”
Cue the rise of smart tech, like air purifiers to give us tangible ways to boost our safety. Before you invest, this is what you need to know about air purification…
Why do we need an air purifier?
When we think of contaminated air, the first thing that usually comes to mind is pollution. The outdoors – particularly busy roads and high traffic areas –– has a bad rep for air quality, whereas our homes enable us to shut the door on all that, right? Actually, that’s not the case. A study commissioned by the Clean Air Day campaign in 2019 found that indoor air pollution is over three times worse than outdoor air pollution. Cooking, wood stoves, dust, pet dander and outdoor pollution (which makes its way inside) create a build-up of ultrafine inside our homes which take much longer to disperse since there’s far less ventilation.
What does an air purifier do?
Air purifiers sanitise the air making it healthier to breathe by trapping ultrafine airborne particles like pollutants, allergens and toxins that cause allergies, odours and irritation, while letting clean air pass through.
How does an air purifier work?
Air purifiers usually combine a filter with a fan to suck in polluted air, flow it through filters which trap contaminated particles and cleanse it of pollutants and odours before it’s pushed back out into the room. Other air purifiers neutralise particles in the air without using a filter by emitting ions that attract and cancel out the pollution particles.
What’s the difference between an air purifier and a humidifier?
Air filters are the opposite of humidifiers which add particles (e.g. water molecules) to the air. Instead, air purifiers remove particles from the air.
What are air purifiers good for and what are they not good for?
Most air purifiers are good at removing irritating particles like pollution, smoke, dust, pollen and pet dander, but they don’t tend to catch certain gases, like radon and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which are emitted from paints and cleaning products. They also can’t remove allergens that land on hard surfaces or soft furnishings like our bedding, carpets and curtains, the allergens must be air-bound.
Can an air purifier help with mold, allergies and coughs?
Yes. Particularly when combined with a filter, they can help to remove the particles that cause issues like asthma, irritation, and mold. Prevention is better than cure after all. That said, they can’t solve all – there are some particles and allergens they can’t remove (mentioned above). Also, there’s limited medical evidence directly proving their health benefits since it’s difficult to isolate the effect of air filters amongst other environmental and genetic factors. But, if you do suffer from allergies and asthma, an air purifier with a HEPA filter can be very helpful.
What is a HEPA filter?
HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are made up of thousands of tiny fibres that weave together to create a net. The different spacing within the net enables them to catch both larger and microscopic particles. This gives HEPA filters the ability to catch close to 100% of the particles in the air.
What should I look for in an air purifier?
Check what type of air purification system your air purifier uses. If it uses a filter, it’s worth checking whether the filters are reusable. If they’re not reusable, you’ll have to buy replacements which can be pricey. If they are reusable, you might have to wash them regularly to ensure they work properly which can be time consuming.
If they do use a filter, check which type of filter they use. To catch tiny particles make sure you choose an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
If it’s a neutralising air purifier, that uses ions to cancel out contaminant particles, ensure that the ion system doesn’t produce ozone (this should be listed on the packaging and description) as ozone can aggravate lung conditions and asthma.
Look out for the CADR rating which measures the clean air delivery rate (how efficiently and quickly particles are removed from the air). The higher the rating, the better it is at removing the particles. A good CADR rating is anything above
Finally, make sure that the air purifier is an appropriate size for your space. A small air purifier won’t cover an entire home or a very large room so you may need more than one, or you may need to rotate where you put it.
For more from our Deputy Beauty Editor, Elle, follow her at @elleturneruk.
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