Air pollution is a major issue in cities and can lead to many health issues. But how can we counteract this problem?
With the pollution level increasing in many cities, many people are looking for ways to help mitigate the problem. One of the most popular ways to do this is to use air purifiers to clean the air inside the house or office. But many people advocate using plants instead since they work similarly and more naturally. So, which one will you settle on, then?
This blog compares the effectiveness of air purifiers and plants in maintaining better air quality. Ultimately, you will know which is best suited for your needs.
Air Purifiers: What Are They and How Do They Work?
As the name suggests, an air purifier cleanses the air, thus improving air quality.
The device blows its own forced air out of its sides in a continuous cycle. The forced air will surround the room and vacuum up all the particles in the air that are the same size and smaller than a certain micron. To do this, it uses a variety of filters.
The front end of the device has a pre-filter, which is the first step in cleaning the air. The pre-filter traps the larger particles in the air, and the air purifier uses a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter traps allergens in the air and can remove up to 99% of allergens in the air. If a PM2.5 particle is in the HEPA filter, the device will have to change the filter after approximately 2 months. The device also uses a carbon filter, which helps to eliminate odors. Some brands also have a filter reminder system, so you will be notified when it is time to change the filters.
In short, the device cleans the pollutants by removing allergens and impurities from the air in a continuous cycle. The process is simple; in a constant cycle, it gathers the contaminants in a filter, cleanses the filter in an ionic reaction, and then blows the clean air back into the room.
However, the efficiency of an air purifier depends on the technology in which they are built. Some brands use technology that is way better than others. Some even claim that theirs can kill viruses and bacteria, which is ideal for preventing catching and spreading diseases.
Types of Air Purifier Filters
The most important part of an air purifier is the filter. This technology sets customer expectations on what the device can or not do. Above anything else, ensure you understand what type of filter you need before buying the device.
There are four major types of filters. Some models may have a combination of two kinds pre-installed in the system, which is great for better air cleaning efficiency. These filters can capture different types and sizes of pollutants like smoke, dust, pet hair, and even microbes.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter:
HEPA filters are used to filter large particles of dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. With the support of its multi-layered netting, the filter traps these particles and removes them from the air stream. Then, it allows cleaner air to pass through and be used by the home.
Many studies confirm that HEPA filters can remove as much as 99% of the air’s allergens, bacteria, and contaminants. Because of this, HEPA filter is used in various applications, from homes, to hospitals and even in commercial buildings.
Pros: Efficient, available anywhere
Drawbacks: Expensive, needs regular filter change, not good in removing foul odors, noisier.
Ionic purifiers work by releasing charged ions into the air. These ions latch onto airborne pollutants like pollen, dust, pet dander, mold, bacteria, and mildew. The ions form a bond with these pollutants and are then drawn to the ion collection plate on the cleaner. This process is called ionization. As the ionization process continues, the air quality in your home improves.
Pros: Less maintenance, no regular filter change needed, quitter.
Drawbacks: pollutants stay in the room, cannot remove odors or fumes, and emits ozone which is terrible for those with respiratory ailments.
The interior of almost all carbon filters consists of a random arrangement of pores. The longer the pores, the larger the surface area of the filter. The pores give the pollutants a large surface area over which to adhere to. The smell is trapped in the pores when the air passes through the filter. This helps reduce odors, dust, smoke, and soot.
An important thing to remember about carbon filters is that they must “charge” before they can absorb odors. This usually means letting the carbon filter sit in a room for a while before it starts working. This gives the pores time to become saturated with air particles.
Pros: Cheaper, removes odor
Cons: Inefficient in removing other particulates
Ultra Violet Light (UV):
Ultraviolet rays have been used for decades to purify and sanitize the air in the home. It’s a helpful tool for those who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory ailments. The health benefits of UV light for the home also include killing germs, bacteria, and viruses. This helps to reduce the spread of the virus. It also eliminates odors and pollutants.
Pros: Removes harmful microbes
Cons: Expensive, not 100% effective
Are Plants Better Than Air Purifiers?
Plants clean the air everybody knows that. They add oxygen to the air and remove nitrogen and other harmful gases. It’s a cycle that is vital to the planet. In fact, one study found that houseplants can remove up to 87% of harmful toxins from the air! Also, it can trap air pollutants to a certain degree.
It’s important to keep a variety of plants in your home. Snake plants remove formaldehyde from the air, which even expensive air filters struggle to do. Spider plants also thrive in bright, filtered light and continue to grow (and multiply) in full sun.
While other plants help clean the air, it’s important to remember that plants in the home do more than just make the air healthier. They can also reduce stress, improve your mood, and more!
But can they remove the need for air purifiers entirely?
Not really. Plants do absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air, but the carbon dioxide absorption is a lot slower than the amount of carbon dioxide the human breath releases. Plants cannot repair the air pollution created by vehicles and various industries. However, their ability to clean the air naturally is still one of the reasons why we should have them in our homes and offices.
Having both plants and air purifiers in your home can be a great strategy for reducing air pollutants. It’s important to note that plants are not as effective at removing contaminants as air purifiers.
Plants are a good addition to having cleaner indoor air, but they are not aggressive enough in removing as much air pollutants as you need. Plants may be enough if you live in the countryside where the air quality is already good. However, if you’re in the city or there is a smoker in your family, an air purifier is way better.