A room with a view (read as providing cross-ventilation) in modern homes is a rarity. Rapid urbanisation has forced us to huddle around in small, confined spaces. Given that it is summer, one is tempted to keep the windows open to let the cool breeze in. However, the invading insects may disrupt your peace. Most of us spend close to 75% of our time indoors air tight! Confined rooms breed pollutants in the form of tiny particulates. These are at times seeded by exposure to the outdoor air as well! So much so that research indicates that indoor air may be 5 times more polluted than outside air! (Source: EPA Study). What does that say of how hygienic the air you breathe is? Will getting an AC be good enough?
Exposure to pollutants in the form of tiny particles or gaseous substances can trigger allergies, and common ailments that make us feel sick and unproductive. These types of pollutants are suspended in the air we breathe and enter our lungs causing respiratory disorders. Particulate and gaseous pollutants are typically resident in common household belongings:
Necessity is the mother of all inventions, and that has indeed been the case with Air Filters & Purifiers as well.
Who invented Air Filters, Purifiers & why?
The first Air Filters were built by Fire Fighters (who else!) John & Charles Dean, way back in 1823 –to help fire Fighters breathe better in the circumstances that they have deal with. Post that, many people experimented with variations and improvisations for varied applications. Finally in 1963 Germans Klaus & Manfred Hammes developed the world's first residential air purifiers – this was triggered by yet another necessity – Manfred suffered from chronic asthma. Due to the cold climate people largely used to burn wood or coal to remain warm in their homes & these largely triggered particulates in the air. Their air filter purified the air by removing these particles. This contraption had a filtering pad, attached to small magnets that held it to residential coal ovens – reducing the hazardous effects of coal dusts
Fig-1: AC filters and Purifiers
Types of Air Filters & Air Purifiers:
These Air purifiers make use of Ultraviolet radiations generated from a UV (Ultra Violet) lamp. UV is a set of electromagnetic waves having higher frequencies and is invisible to humans. These UV rays bond with particulates and microbes invisible to the human eye and bond with it causing chemical reactions. At higher energies they ionize (When an atom (particle) is ionized, that means that it is sharing one or more electrons with another atom, and hence becomes vulnerable and easy to dispose or decompose) and exterminate these microbes and pollutants.
Fig 2: Illustrates how ionization help eradicate particulate pollutants
Here are the types of Air Purifiers:
Leading brands of Air Conditioners have deployed several Air Filtering techniques – Triple layer of filters, High density filters, filters with anti-bacterial coating etc. their efficiencies vary from 25% to 90%. Also, Air Purifying technologies such as Plasma-based ionizers are also said to be equally effective.
While these filters and purifiers may not entirely rid of all pollutants they are effective in managing most of the pollutants and effective hygiene steps needs to be initiated to manage allergy free indoor air. Ensuring proper room ventilation, periodic dusting of furniture, cleaning of all exposed surfaces, vacuuming of carpets, cleaning of filters in ACs etc. would go a long way in keeping pollutants under control – thereby improving the indoor air quality.