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Air quality in India has really dipped. There are many reasons for it: cutting of trees, vehicles, crop stubble burning, burning of trash in cities, and bursting of fire crackers during Diwali. It is not just the outside but the indoors too that can be polluted much beyond our imagination. Delhi Smog is a scary case. It seems we will have to live with air purifiers in India for the time being. In fact, indoor air quality can be worse than outside at times. Air pollution is permeating homes and making breathing a task. Senior citizens and children are the most affected. People living with respiratory diseases are also feeling the pinch. One of the ways to combat the situation is through an air purifier. However, the question is whether you should invest in an air purifier.

“If air pollutants like pollen, dust mites, dust, mold, tobacco smoke, and pets trigger allergies and have you reaching for tissues, you do need an air purifier,” said Jayati Singh, Business Head – Air, Philips Personal Health, India, in an interview, adding: ‘If you are among 20–28 million asthmatics in India, if you have children with underdeveloped immune systems, if someone is pregnant in your house or if your house/ office is in a construction area, an air purifier is the way to go.”

Consumers don’t know which one to buy. There are n number of products online, from ionizers to humidifiers. They claim to improve air quality by pushing the dust out through air filters which suck in the air from the room, clean it and then push out clean air. They use HEPA filters instead of ozonizers and ionizers. Let’s look at some of the things that would help you zero down on an air purifier that suits your needs and budget.

Air purifier must have a HEPA filter

The air purifier must have a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. There are products in the market that say HEPA-like filters, one must avoid them. The HEPA filter cleans small particulate matter (PM2.5 and less) which can permeate deep into the lungs and give rise to respiratory problems.

Presence of heavy activated charcoal is necessary for an air purifier

One must check before buying an air purifier that it has activated charcoal in the system in order to remove bad odors as well as harmful gasses.

You must check for a pre-filter in an air purifier

You should purchase air purifiers which have a pre-filter in order to remove large particulate matter. If an air purifier does not have a pre-filter, the large particulate matter in the air could reach the HEPA filter and thus reduce the efficiency. While there is a tendency to be concerned about PM2.5 during winters, there are other pollutants present inside our houses such as pollen in autumn and spring. Dust in summer. During winters and monsoon, mold and fungal growth can be harmful for children. Pollutants like virus, chemicals, and toxic gases are present throughout the year. In fact, the biggest danger is from indoor air pollution caused by indoor pollutants. No wonder, children keep falling sick all year round with persistent asthma symptoms throughout the year.

Clean Air Delivery Rate or CADR of the air purifier

Higher the CADR, greater is amount of air purified. It is the air purifier’s ability to remove pollutants from air.

“You want a purifier that has a proper HEPA filter, which you should change every six months to one year,” said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Kent RO systems in an interview. The company is established in the air purifier market.

Altanta Healthcare’s CEO Vibhor Jain says consumers should look at stages of filtration to make sure harmful types of particles are removed. “An ideal Air Purifier should have 5–9 filters that include a Pre-filter, Molecular Sieve Media, ESP filter, HEPA/ ULPA, Activated Carbon, Fibre Filter, and Cold Catalyst,” he said, adding quality of filters is important. “When we speak of quality of filters, we must make note of thickness of filters, type of HEPA filter used, Carbon type, material and surface area of filters. This is core of a filtration technology and defines efficiency of filtration.”

A HEPA filter removes most PM2.5, allergens, and mites. It filters out small particles, such as cigarette smoke. One should check particle size that can be filtered. Ideally, it should range between 0.3 and 0.1 so that it catches even viruses and bacteria. Activated carbon can remove bad odors and pollutants.

Need for industry standards for air purifiers

Hunting for a good air purifier in India can be challenging. There are many people who put together a filter and a fan and sell it as an air purifier. There are strict standards in the USA as well as in China. They have proper systems to certify as well as test machines for effectiveness. That rigor is absent in the Indian market.

“There are some good standards in place in China, US, and Europe. I do not think we need to replicate but we should have industry level agreement to ensure purifiers sold in India meet international quality standards,” said Jai Mani, India, Product Manager for Xiaomi, in an interview to NDTV.
Some common air purifiers in India

1) Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2 : This device cleans 400 sq ft in 10 minutes. The machine has EPA triple layer filter, removes harmful PM2.5 along with real-time AQI monitoring. Xiaomi cut product price, which was Rs. 9999 earlier, to Rs. 8999 to help Delhi fight smog.

2) Kent Aura: Quite popular. Has HEPA filter for PM 2.5. Carbon filter for bad odor. CADR of 180m3/h. Device ideal for small rooms. LED display for air quality levels. Price: Rs. 11,000 on Flipkart and Amazon.

3) HoneyWell AirTouch AI8 : The device carries out three-layer filtration process. It has HiSiv filter, HEPA filter and washable prefilter. The device removes big dust particles, bacteria, and volatile chemicals. HoneyWell claims it can remove PM2.5 particulate matter with efficiency of 90%.

4) Panasonic F-PBJ30ADD : This device has a CADR of 215 sq ft with nano technology, effectively removing bacteria and odor. It has a dirt sensor and a HEPA composite filter.

5) Havells AP22 s. 11,700: CADR of 200m3/h. Removes PM 2.5. Claimed efficiency 99.9 percent. Armed with child lock, health plus lock, and filter replacement alert.

6) Sharp Air Purifier Fu-A80E : Equipped with True HEPA Filter. Reduces PM2.5 particulate matter. Plasmacluster Ion Technology removes infections, odor. CADR 480 m3/h. Dust sensors for monitoring air quality.

7) Philips 1000 Series : Claimed removal of 99.97 percent allergens and ultra-fine particles till 0.02 microns, 100 times smaller than PM2.5. Equipped with VitaShield IPS (Intelligent Purification System) Technology, Auto Mode, Allergen Mode. Clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 270 m3/hour. Extra-thick NanoProtect TRUE HEPA Series 1 Filter. Price: Rs. 8799

8) Atlanta Healthcare Universal 450 : CADR 225m3/h. Built-in humidifier, air quality sensor, and filter change indicator. Keeps indoor air free from dust (PM2.5 and PM10), gas, smoke, odors, and allergens. Air purification includes anti-bacterial filter, pre-filter, H13 grade HEPA filter, photo catalyst, activated carbon, UV light and ionizer. Price: Rs. 21,560

9) BlueAir Sense + : Can trap 99.97 percent of airborne particles. Can change air up to 5 times in an hour. Machine suitable for room measuring 200 sq ft. Useful motion sensors. Wifi enabled. Controllable through mobile Application. Price: Rs. 39,999

10) Nirvana Being Purifiers : Nirvana has launched Airgle AG600 PurePal Air Purifier as well as Airgle AG900 PurePal Clean Room Air Purifier. Purifiers use cHEPA filtration. Claimed efficiency more than 99.991 percent. Airgle AG600 is efficient for medium-sized rooms. Although priced on higher side, company has installed air purifiers in companies like NASA, Deutsche Telecom, Marriott, Bennett Coleman, Fab India, Birla Group, etc.

Image credit: Times Now

About the author: I am a freelance journalist, environment activist, fashion blogger, and a short film and documentary maker. My association with Taru Mitra, an organization working hard for the environment in India, taught me the value of nature preservation. I want to make the world a better place for future generations. Being a mother, I know how important it is to do that. I love nature, art and creativity. Reach me at ushi.fatma@gmail.com

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Ushi Fatma

About Ushi Fatma

Author at greenubuntu.com. I am a freelance journalist, environment activist, fashion blogger, and a short film and documentary maker. My association with Taru Mitra, an organisation working hard for the environment in India, taught me the value of nature preservation. I want to make the world a better place for future generations. Being a mother, I know how important it is to do that. I love nature, art and creativity.