Treating air purifiers as an essential item for the society to live with
Vishnu Mohan | 04 Sep 2013

There could be many reasons for the air pollution. At times, media do come out with findings of different types of pollutions recorded in different parts of the country. Recently, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has revealed that the pollution level across various areas of the Chennai city have increased significantly. Pollution control boards of the other state governments have also reported an increase in the level of pollution affecting some of their big cities.

Therefore, the question is does air purifier equipments can now be taken as an essential item for a dwelling house. The following are some of the pointers along with a few statistics and data collected from related topics on this issue:

- In many cities roads are not being swept regularly. Additionally, the dust level has reached heights with ongoing construction work and road widening.

- RSPM (Respirable suspended particulate matter) has increased manifold in many areas of the country.

- Based on an example taken by one of the Pollution Control Boards, testing done also includes finding out the level of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

- The standard value for SO2 and NO2 is 50 microgram/cubic metre and 40 microgram/cubic metre respectively. However, the findings of TNPCB point out in a place known as Kathivakkam in 2010-11 the pollution level recorded was 219 microgram/cubic metre. This was the maximum pollution recorded for this area. But, it reached to 363 microgram/cubic metre in 2011-12. The annual average levels of SO2 and NO2 in the area have gone up to 22 and 27 from 12 and 18 microgram/cubic metre respectively.

- Also experts opine in places like Tiruvottiyur and Washermenpet areas of Chennai, the incidence of high respiratory and gastroenterological cases are very high as both the areas are witnessing increased patients in proportion to population.

- One report says that while the debate rages over carbon dioxide emissions, almost nobody is talking about the declining oxygen level and its effect on health. Some areas in Tokyo have recorded oxygen levels as low as 1%. Coin operated oxygen dispensers are common there.

- In general, before we enter, air in a room contains approximately 20% oxygen and less than 1% carbon dioxide. As we inhabit a closed room carbon dioxide levels climb and oxygen concentration falls. Also carbon dioxide causes us to breathe more deeply and rapidly, compensating for the lower oxygen.

- A chemical agent known as formaldehyde has also become an inseparable part of our lives. Also called formalin or methanol.  Some medical students commonly complain that the smell of formaldehyde stays on them for the entire duration of their anatomy semester.  It is believed that formaldehyde encounter does not end in the laboratories – it is a pervasive toxin that enters our homes in several ways and refuses to leave.  In high concentrations, formaldehyde induces health risks such as eye, nose and throat irritation, wheezing, coughing, fatigue, skin rash and severe allergic reactions. As an example, we often get a sharp, acrid “chemical” smell when we open the wrapper on new garments and this smell requires a few rounds of washing to eliminate.   This is formaldehyde in combination with urea used by textile companies to make garments more wrinkle resistant, stain resistant and also use it as a disinfectant.

Basing the above, air purifier equipments can now be taken as an essential item for a house as it is handy to help keep the environment somewhat better.  Some findings on air purifiers are as follows.

-          Dedicated air sterilizers can be effective in some places but they take a week’s time for purification of air in a single room. 

-          HEGA filter stands for High Efficiency Gas Absorption.  A HEGA cloth is an advanced military carbon cloth that is specifically designed for the filtration of areas polluted by smoke, odors, gases, smog and fumes.  Such filters are specifically used with certain air purifier models.

-          Hyper HEPA filter are used by some air purifiers as its performance is considered better.  The HyperHEPA filter extends air filtration down to .003 microns – this is 100 times more effective than a standard HEPA filter

-          Activated carbon and charcoal filters excel at adsorbing odors and gases and neutralizing smoke, chemicals and fumes. 

-          CADS stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate, and it is a measurement development by AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers).  The CADS measures how much clean air an air purifier delivers to a room in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

-          ACH stands for Air Changes per Hour.  This number, also known as the ACH tells us how frequently the air purifier can exchange all the air in a given room.  For example, if the purifier has a ACH rating of 6 for a 20’ x 20’ room, then it is capable of exchanging all of the air in that room 6 times every hour.  It is assumed that people suffering from allergies or asthma, may be better of with an ACH rating of at least 4 and preferably 6 or 8.

Concerned quarters can do well to attach importance to popularizing the concept of installing appropriate air purifiers in both residential and commercial places and also in industrial establishments.  While efforts must be on to reduce the air pollution as much as possible in the future.

Hoping the above favours consideration at the right quarters.