Foul air is not just an outdoor scourge. It has seeped into many Indian homes. Can high tech help us breathe easy?
A week from Diwali, anxiety is already overcoming many, unfortunate enough to live in one of the Indian cities in the World Health Organization's list of most air-polluted places in the world. When it comes to PM10 or particles that are 10 micrometres or microns in size, New Delhi leads the world among polluted megacities, with Mumbai not far behind. Remember, a human hair in comparison is 100 microns in thickness.
If the smaller and more dangerous PM 2.5 (particles of 2.5 microns), are considered, WHO finds, India has 14 of the world's 15 most polluted cities, led by Kanpur, followed by Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Agra... but it's not just a North India thing: southern metros like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai are only a step away from acquiring that dubious distinction.
With polluting particles shrinking in size, foul air is no longer just an outdoor scourge: it seeps into our homes -- and that is when, babies with bronchial problems and the aged with asthma alike, face a real threat to their health.
Fortunately, help is at hand: a wide choice of air purifiers is now available -- and the technology behind them is constantly evolving to ensure that we can breathe reasonably clean air. Basically, all of them use HEPA or High Energy Particulate Arrester filters rated at PM 2.5 to keep out the harmful dust, soot etc. Many use ultraviolet rays to kill germs.
In recent weeks, major global players have launched air purifiers in the Indian market. The UK-based Dyson claims that its Pure Cool in desktop and tower versions ( Rs 36,900 and Rs 43,900 respectively) can tackle particles as small as 0.1 microns using a laser to measure such ultrafine invaders. Their products harness the bladeless fan technology that they invented, a silent worker that can throw out some 360 litres of purified air per second. The Dyson air purifiers double as fans, but you can switch off that function anytime.
An unusual entrant in this market is Xiaomi, better known for Mi handphones. Their new Mi Air Purifier 2S offers an OLED display and can be controlled remotely using a phone app or from Amazon Alexa or Google Home assistant. Launched last month, the 2S is currently discounted to Rs 8,999.
There is a wide choice of air purifier makes today, each with a special claim:
-Philips touts its Aerasense technology which, addresses allergy-sources like pet dander.
-Panasonic's Econavi technology monitors your usage pattern and optimises the functions. Its models range from Rs 12,000 to Rs 35,000
-Sharp is the first in the world to add a mosquito catcher with the FP-GM50E-B priced at Rs 30,000.
-Blueair's Joy S (Rs 14,999) renews clean air for 16 sqm every 12 minutes while consuming just 1.5 watts.
-Bonphul Air Products' OxyMax, is the world's second air purifier that is also an oxygen optimiser.
-Airgle purifiers offer an anti-microbial HEPA filter plus activated carbon and a Titanium Pro module which neutralises chemicals and odours while killing bacteria and virus pollutants down to 0.01 microns. These are premium products priced from Rs 94,000 to Rs 1.35 lakhs.
-The Samsung AX5500 offers 4-step purification plus a deodorising filter and displays the level of pollution in PM 2.5/10.( Rs 34,990)
Somewhere in this, you may find a model that fits your space and your pocket.