When the pandemic first started companies and schools transitioned to working remotely, with no way to anticipate just how long this reality would last. Many organizations are now planning to return to office and in-person learning in some capacity by the Fall.
Consumers are paying more attention to improving their indoor air quality, according to results of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) survey on appliance use. This survey found that 46% of consumers are taking steps to improve the quality of the air in their homes and 16% reported purchasing an air purifier during the pandemic.
An air purifier is a must-have product to improve air quality and remove pollutants.
Air Purifiers and Safety
The air inside our homes, offices, and classrooms contains pollutants that can affect human health including dust, pollen, pet dander, germs, mold, tobacco, and wildfire smoke. Some of these pollutants come from outdoors, while others come from indoor sources including cooking, cleaning, secondhand smoke, building materials, consumer products, and home furnishings.
The most effective way to improve your indoor air is to reduce sources of pollutants and to ventilate with clean outdoor air according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Using an air purifier, upgrading your air filter in your furnace, or air-conditioning can help improve indoor air quality; however, they cannot remove all pollutants from the air.
Why Clean Air Matters for Schools, Dorms, Offices, and Daycares
After close to two years of wearing masks, sanitizing surfaces, and physical distancing, cleanliness is one of the most critical points for transitioning back to our pre-pandemic routines.
With school and office environments being notorious for spreading germs, especially through cold and flu season, air purifiers can help limit the spread of viruses via long-range airborne particles by securing most of these particles in a HEPA filter.
While prioritizing ventilation won’t prevent the spread of Covid-19, it can be a solution to keeping a more hygienic space. An associate professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Joseph Allen, recommends focusing on air quality for setting up the safest environment. Allen, who is one of the world’s leaders on indoor air quality suggested one way to improve air quality is to set up portable HEPA filter air purifiers. Combinations of ventilation and filtration can be used (as long as the air purifier is right for the room) Allen says.
Read more about Danby’s role in helping protect classrooms during COVID-19.
How Air Purifiers Work
Air purifiers essentially work by sanitizing the air, using a combination of filtration methods including HEPA (High- Efficiency Particulate Air), Activated carbon, Ionizer/ Ionic filter, and UV light.
- HEPA: this filter works like a net and is constructed from borosilicate glass or plastic fibers arranged in a mat of randomly place fibers. Particles are trapped by sticking to a fiber through diffusion, interception, or impaction. A “true” or “absolute” HEPA filter traps 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter or larger (to compare, a typical human hair is between 50.0 and 150.0 microns).
- Activated carbon: is small pieces of carbon that have been treated to be extremely porous. When air passes over them, these pores pull carbon-based particles out of the air and trap them through a process called adsorption. In air purifiers, activated carbon can be used in conjunction with HEPA filters to trap allergens and pollutants.
- Ionizer/Ionic filter: an air ionizer purifier essentially electrifies airborne particles as particulates collect on the ionizer plate.
- UV light: are designed to use short-wave ultraviolet light. When air passes through its wavelengths, it destroys airborne pathogens and microorganisms.
Choosing the Right Air Purifier
The most crucial aspect of selecting an air purifier is to make sure that is has a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and that it is large enough for the size of the room it will primarily be used in. The AHAM label on the packaging will show the CADR and suggested room size.
CADR measures the performance of air purifiers, this metric reflects the volume of filtered air an air purifier delivers. There are individual scores for dust, pollen, and tobacco. The higher the CADR for each pollutant, the faster the air purifier can filter air. AHAM oversees the CADR rating program where products are arbitrarily tested by a third-party to confirm they meet performance levels.
Follow the 2/3 rule and select an air filter with a tobacco smoke rating equal to at least 2/3 the size of the room’s area. For example, if your room is 400 square feet it would be recommended to have an air purifier with a tobacco smoke CADR of at least 264. For wildfire smoke, AHAM recommends that the tobacco smoke CADR equal the square foot of the room. Lastly, if your ceilings are higher than 8 feet (typical in school and office settings), AHAM suggests using an air purifier with a higher CADR rated for a larger room size.
For more information on selecting the perfect air purifier for your space, refer to our blog about Choosing the Best Air Purifier for your Home.