Air pollution in the national capital recently dipped to ‘severe-plus’ levels forcing authorities to declare a public health emergency and asking netizens to stay indoors. Breathing such toxic air for a long time can cause inflammation in the blood vessels and in the worst scenario even lung cancer. Living in places with higher levels of air pollution can add to our risk of heart disease and heart attack. In the short-term, it can cause discomforts such as irritation to the nose, eyes, throat or skin. It can also cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea.
In such a circumstance, we are often asked to stay indoors and avoid outdoor physical activity. This is when air purifiers come to our mind. But the question is do air purifiers really work? Recently a senior doctor was quoted as saying by a report that air purifiers may give you ‘a little bit of reassurance but overall, it is not a solution.’
However, Dr KK Agarwal, President of the Heart Care Foundation, feels that air purifiers become essential when pollution is as high as in Delhi.
“If PM2.5 is higher than 100 then it will definitely harm your body. We need to maintain it below 60 in normal circumstances and ideally below 25. So if you are on streets, wear masks and use air purifiers inside your homes,” Dr KK Agarwal said.
When asked to comment on doctors saying air purifiers ‘offer more assurance than protection’, he said something is better than nothing.
“Something is better than nothing. They will do harm reduction. I can understand that some doctors won’t advise if air quality is around 100 but if it is around 400 and above then air purifiers are the must. An air purifier can reduce the pollution level by 80-90 per cent. If someone is suggesting that it’s not useful then why there are air filters in cars and ACs. Why doctors don’t operate without HEPA filter in hospitals,” he said.
“In fact, asthma and the allergic patient should use air purifiers regularly because they won’t get an allergy,” he added.
An air purifier manufacturer echoed the same thing and said the ‘litmus test of air purification is only when air pollution is very high.’ However, he emphasised that it is very important to buy a good quality air purifier to get the best from it.
“So, while buying an air purifier, one needs to list down the reason for his need for Air purifier. Indoor City air is bad throughout the year, since there is no ventilation. Sunlight is almost not available in most of the bedrooms. If you open windows you do not get fresh air. Better buy a good air purifier, rather than worrying about how to get the best out of the air purifier,” Kishalay Ray, President, Consumer Electronics, Sharp Business Systems India, said.
Kishalay Ray said that one should keep three basic things in mind while buying a purifier - capability of the purifier to change the room air per hour, HEPA grade and size (a larger HEPA filter will basically mean the life of filter will be higher) and Quality of Carbon filter.
“One should not get into secondary features like display, Mobile APP, and so on, which are bells and whistles do not add to purification value of the Product. After a good purifier is installed, regular cleaning is the only requirement to keep high efficiency of the purifier operation,” Ray added.