One of the greatest threats posed to health by unhealthy urban environments is that of air pollution. No one wants air pollutants inside their home, since they are not just noxious but also threatens long term consequences to the well-being.
These pollutants of the air can be of various types. They can consist of gases or microscopic particles. Particulate pollutants include the likes of smoke, dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, animal dander and even certain microorganisms, like moulds, bacteria, dust mites and viruses. Pollutants of the gaseous persuasion, on the other hand, are mostly of chemical origin, and come from gas cooking stoves, exhaust from factories and vehicles, pesticides and various materials used in construction.
While air pollution is largely out of our control in outdoor environments, the situation is very different indoors. Since the volume of air inside a house at any given time is static, it can be purified through proper ventilation. This is done in order to control the flow of pollutants or eliminate them altogether, while at the same time allowing a flow of purified air from the outside in order to prevent the indoor environments from becoming stuffy and uncomfortable.
Which brings us to the question – how is it done?
The answer to this question is quite simple – air cleaners. Also known as airs cleaning devices or air purifiers, these machines are installed inside households or offices to ensure a supply of clean, unpolluted air inside the rooms at all times. They do so by removing the harmful and noxious pollutants from outdoor air and pumping it indoors through vents and ducts. Most air cleaners are meant to be fitted in a building’s HVAC (heating, venting and air-conditioning) system, so that it can use them to supply the flow of purified air. However, smaller, less expensive and portable versions of air purifiers also exist, which are used to purify the air present in individual rooms, but are unsuitable for filtering the air of entire households.
If you are looking to purchase an air cleaner for your household, office or factory, you first need to consider a few factors. Different types of air filters are optimized for the removal of different types of impurities from the air, so make sure that the filter you are choosing is suited to the type of environment where you plan to install it.
Secondly, you need to consider whether you want an electronic air cleaner or a mechanical one. A mechanical air cleaner works by using several layers of filter materials to capture the impurities in the air before allowing it to flow into the room. These include the likes of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, and are less expensive. Electronic air cleaners, on the other hand, utilize a method known as electrostatic attraction to attract and entrap charged particles. Air is drawn into the module through an ionized pipeline, where the particles are imbued with a type of electrical charge, which causes them to collect on layers of flat fins (aptly named ‘collectors’) which bear a charge of the opposite nature.
Another version of electronic air cleaners uses ionizers, also known as ion generators. These air cleaners take this method to the next level by removing the fins and directly launching streams of charged ions and allowing them to disperse through the air. These ions attract airborne impurities and attach themselves to them, in turn charging them and causing them to latch on to the surfaces of any nearby walls or furniture, or even to one another. Many air filters are also optimized for removing gaseous pollutants, so if you believe that the impurities you wish to remove are gases, not particles, you may want to invest in them instead.
Air cleaners can be fairly expensive, with basic models starting at approximately US$ 200, while the more expensive ones (usually suited for larger complexes) can easily exceed US$ 5,000. Since this is a major long-term investment, consulting an expert may prove to be most beneficial prior to making the purchase.