Clearing the air we breathe

Delhi's air quality is alarming, as recent reports indicate. Thankfully, an air purifier can help in these polluted times

There is no way to sugar-coat this—the quality of air in Delhi is worse than in Beijing, China, according to an air-quality monitoring survey report released recently by Greenpeace. The non-governmental organization accumulated the air-quality data from five schools in the city. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) levels in Delhi’s air is four times more than the prescribed India-specific safety limit.

Air pollution is a big problem in most Indian cities. According to WHO, 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India; these include Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Agra. The causes include industrial and vehicular emissions, construction activities, generators and burning of agricultural residue.

Diseases caused by air pollution include irregular cardiac rhythm, which can lead to heart attack, lung disorder, respiratory infection, bronchitis, pneumonia and stroke.

An average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. But we hardly pay any attention to the element we are consuming the most every day—air. Since most of us cannot shift to another city, the next best we can do is contain the amount of pollution going into our lungs. And air purifiers allow us to do that, to a certain extent. They cannot remove carbon monoxide or propane, but can filter out the biggest pollutants—particulate matter, aldehydes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ethers, esters, ketones, halogens and sulfur dioxide.

“If you are buying (air purifiers), pick up models by the likes of Sharp and Blueair, because they are more effective. A good air purifier can remove certain pollutants, but cannot reduce carbon dioxide," says New Delhi-based Barun Aggarwal, director of Breathe Easy. Aggarwal’s company offers custom solutions, which combine an air purifier with plants such as areca palm, money plant and sansevieria, to improve indoor air quality.

But as with heaters, which can lower the humidity in a room, do air purifiers have any drawbacks? “At present, no side-effects of air purifiers have been reported. While I don’t personally prescribe air purifiers, I won’t stop someone from using it since we are not aware of their repercussions," says Ashish Jain, senior consultant, pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi. “Air filters that remove small particles, such as high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters, are effective in removing allergens from the air, without posing any ozone concerns. Apart from that, to work effectively, filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly," adds Vivek Anand Padegal, consultant pulmonologist at Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru.

Here are some air purifiers that can help you breathe better indoors, at home or in office. The indoor purifiers mentioned here work best in room sizes around 15x15ft.

Philips AC4072

39,995

www.philips.co.in

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