Air pollution is never far from the headlines these days, as our understanding of the effects pollution has on our bodies soars. With an estimated 4.2 million people dying annually from ailments potentially linked to it, according to the , pollution has become one of the primary health concerns of the 21st century.
At least we’ve got the safety of our homes, you say? Well, perhaps not. Increasingly, scientists are making us aware of indoor pollution – pollutants produced within the home. Whether from cooking, cleaning, lighting scented candles or simply buying new furniture, when combined with outdoor pollution, the very air we breathe at night contains a cocktail of gases and particles.
So it’s not surprising that the search is on for all sorts of air quality improvement devices, from air sensors to pollution reducing house plants. One of the most popular, however, is the air purifier, with sales at John Lewis jumping by 62 per cent in the year up to February 2019.
2020欧洲杯网站Air purifiers are relatively compact, usually white boxes, a couple of feet tall, which you place in a corner of your bedroom/kitchen/living room. The idea is that they use internal fans to suck in dirty air and filter out potentially harmful pollutants (dust, pollen, bacteria, particles and gases), before blowing out fresh air.
2020欧洲杯网站There are several ways in which this filtration can work. Air filters have a paper, mesh or fibre filter which traps particles. HEPA filters (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) are the most common in this category. Most air purifiers at around £100 or more will include HEPA filters (including all tested here), which need to be changed periodically.
2020欧洲杯网站Electrostatic air cleaners capture particulates and use an ioniser to electrically charge particles and other pollutants. The particles become heavier and drop to the floor, where you can easily hoover them up. Gas phase air filters use activated carbon to remove gas and odours (they’re uncommon), while UV filters send light to kill mould and bacteria (there’s scepticism as to whether they work).
The best air purifiers come with a raft of jazzy features. There’ll be several strength settings for more efficient filtration or stronger currents of cold air blowing out. This will inevitably bump up the noise level, and some of the most powerful ones can sound like a plane flying overhead. Nighttime mode will keep the purifier quiet while you sleep and dim any light present on the device.
Some of the premium options out there have accompanying apps that act as remote controls. These apps give you a whole host of data, which can be intriguing, if depressing, if you’re in a particularly polluted area. I was intrigued by how, whenever I cooked something smoky in the kitchen, or lit up the barbecue outside, the reading shot up almost instantly.
2020欧洲杯网站Price-wise, you’re looking at £100 for an entry price purifier, but up to £500 for top-of-the-range.
While getting a purifier might seem like a no-brainer, it’s worth noting a couple of things before purchasing. According to a , the machines can cost £72 per year to run. You’ll also have to buy new filters, roughly annually, which can cost around £50.
And there is scepticism among scientists that they function as well as the manufacturers say. One academic, who didn’t want to be named, told me: “At the moment this is a completely unregulated market and, really, the consumer has no way of knowing if what they’re buying works or not. Even if they do theoretically work, the inaccuracies of low-cost air-quality sensors adds a further layer of difficulty in assessing if they work.”
2020欧洲杯网站Another academic, Dr Nicola Carslaw of the University of York, who sits on the government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, says she is also wary. Carslaw suggests that first you should ensure your house is well ventilated by opening windows daily, and reduce the pollution you emit (such as by frying less food, using cooker hoods when you do, swapping cleaning sprays for creams, and ditching air fresheners).
On the other hand, a hay fever-suffering friend of mine reported enjoyably clear sinuses while sitting by one of the purifiers I tested. When he moved to other areas of the house, his symptoms came back. Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but you'll find plenty of similar stories online.
Over the past few weeks I have tested the best air purifiers I could find. While 100 per cent accurate readings are difficult to ascertain without laboratory equipment, most of the devices I used were able to give me insightful information, if not anything to necessarily live my life by. Here’s what I found while testing:
Due to problems arising from the Covid-19 lockdown, some of the products tested in this article may be temporarily unavailable for online order.
1. Dyson Pure hot + cool link air purifier
Why we like it: It doubles up as a fan and heater, and the app's very easy to use
Aside from a little trouble connecting my app to the machine, this was the standout purifier. Partly, that's because it does more than just purify – there’s a fan and heater too, with the former working wonders on recent muggy nights.
It's a smart design, with a circular filter section at the base and an oblong ring on top, from which the hot or cold air blows. The fan is fairly loud on the highest setting, but nothing like some of the worst offenders (and on nighttime mode it was practically silent). There are plenty of strength settings, too, so you can set it to exactly what you need. For me, around half was enough to cool down a medium-sized bedroom.
2020欧洲杯网站It’s an unobtrusive machine which spins around almost 360 degrees – in fact it was the slenderest of the air purifiers I reviewed.
The app, once I’d managed to connect it, was really easy to use and highly informative and responsive. A graph showed the results of the constant monitoring of my bedroom’s environs, and I was thoroughly delighted to find that overall my room was ‘Good’.
You’ll get stats on: overall air quality; PM2.5 and PM10s (particles); VOCs (volatile organic compounds); nitrogen dioxide; temperature, humidity and more.
Overall, I felt it won out due to its size, versatility and ease of use. It is, however, rather pricey, though most of the best purifiers are.
2. Blueair Classic 405 air purifier
Why we like it: A well designed app with unparalleled levels of information
The Blueair Classic is a rather more industrial-looking purifier, something you might find tucked up by the corner of Meeting Room 1. The purification takes place via grills on either side, which, on the most powerful of three settings, is very loud; the lowest setting, conversely, is almost silent.
2020欧洲杯网站Ideal for medium-sized rooms, it supposedly filters out practically all allergens or asthma triggers. As someone who doesn't tend to suffer too much from respiratory issues, it was hard to notice a difference. Additionally, the filter purifies smoke.
The accompanying app was very well designed and user friendly, giving me all sorts of potentially worrying information about my local environs. Everything from air quality index (AQI), a government-approved measuring system, through to particulates and gases (carbon monoxide; nitrogen dioxide; ozone and sulfur dioxide) is charted.
2020欧洲杯网站It was perhaps the most detailed of the lot, although it's worth noting the machine isn't actually filtering many of these out – it merely functions as a warning. My house, though a little over the edge on VOCs (volatile organic compounds, including vapours and gases), was thankfully low in pollution.
2020欧洲杯网站The app allows you to easily toggle through the purifier's functions, like nighttime mode, a timer and fan speeds.
3. Philips air purifier 2000i
Why we like it: 2020欧洲杯网站Not too loud, easy to set up and a quality app
2020欧洲杯网站Placed in the living room, not too far away from the TV, this purifier rumbled away without interrupting. It's relatively unassuming and not too loud – the way I like it. Setting up was a doddle, it was good to go in minutes, and the accompanying app, by Air Matters, one of the premium global air quality monitors, lends a sense of gravitas.
2020欧洲杯网站The blurb claims to filter out gases, "ultra-fine particles", and 99.97 per cent of allergens (as well as viruses and bacteria), which is impressive. Placed in my living room, not far from the open plan kitchen, it was interesting to see how significantly the machine would shoot up to a high purification setting whenever I fried food (or burnt toast). It was instantaneous; evidently it's a sensitive device.
The app itself was informative, with information on pollution levels in your area and around London (and across the world). It gave me a detailed history of the air quality, and was easy to use. For allergy sufferers, it provides comprehensive information on whatever allergen is floating about with particular prevalence that day.
The app goes into far more detail than others – should you be wearing a mask today? There's only one way to find out. Ultimately, much of it is unnecessary, but it's still vaguely interesting.
2020欧洲杯网站Overall, a good device, and a touch cheaper than some of the other purifiers. However, after a couple of weeks of use it was already asking me to change the filter. Perhaps this is the sign of an overly polluted house, but according to readings gleaned from across the devices I tested, that wouldn't be the case.
4. Vax Pure Air 200 air purifier
A discreet cylindrical purifier that's super easy to set up – it's practically plug-and-go. The Vax removes pollutants, allergens and bacteria. Without an accompanying app, it's hard to tell exactly what's wrong with your air, but there's a light that shines red for bad, yellow for fair and green for good. It's a little on the basic side, but you're saving a lot of money in the process.
The functions are more paired back, but you do still get nighttime mode, a timer and a remote control. I liked the easy-carry handles on either side, too, which made it easily transferable.
All in all, a solid device, if short of the bells and whistles of some pricier models. It was a little let down by the volume – it is certainly noisy.
5. Meaco Clean air purifier
A big white square of a purifier, the Meaco was relatively quiet, and claims to filter out everything from pollen, dust and smoke to mould spores, pollution, viruses, bacteria and gases. Impressive.
Unlike some of the more informative devices above, you just get a colour coding to tell you how dirty your room is. Most evenings, I'd switch it on to a red warning, but within minutes it would turn blue – an admirably quick turnaround if it's true.
It was very easy to set up (it came with few instructions), but didn't provide connectivity for in-depth information. The light was also very strong, though there is a nighttime mode.
6. HoMedics TotalClean 5 in 1 tower air purifier
It looks a bit like a Star Wars 2020欧洲杯网站character, and sounds a lot like a steam train. But it is relatively small, and can tuck away snugly in the corner of a room. The lower settings are quiet enough, while there's a timer to set it off when needed. It removes almost everything, and ionises too (which essentially means negative ions attach to particles in the room, sending them hurtling to the ground so you can hoover them up).
2020欧洲杯网站Overall it's fine, but noisy, and it doesn't give you the connectivity and in-depth information of the better models.