Even before those reports (in May 2021) about the COVID-19 virus being airborne, air purifiers had already been seeing a steady uptick in sales. Add to this earlier studies showing that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and it’s no surprise that air purifiers have become household staples in Singapore.
One company even saw a 76% increase in air purifier sales from 2019 to 2020. It’s because “we spend a large proportion of our time indoors every day, more so during these challenging times as a result of the pandemic,” reckons Nicholas Lee, VP and Market Leader, Asia Pacific, Philips Domestic Appliances.
If you are planning to join in the quest for clean air at home, take note of what to look for when choosing your device.
Choosing an air purifier: the HEPA factor
It is “extremely important” to select an air purifier that features filtration technology and a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, Mr Lee advises.
“This filtration technology is used in many environments such as operating theatres, bio-safety labs, and healthcare facilities where clean air is crucial. It is effective in capturing and removing pollutants, bacteria, and viruses,” he adds.
But doctors say that there is no proof that these can fully protect you from the virus.
“HEPA Filters can filter airborne viruses. However, their efficacy depends on the viral load in the air, and the size of the viral particles,” says Dr Benjamin Loh from the DTAP Clinic.
“The HEPA standard was not designed to handle airborne viruses specifically, so expecting complete protection from airborne viruses may be overly ambitious,” he adds.
But air purifiers are still useful
Still, air purifiers can be beneficial, especially in enclosed spaces where there is poor ventilation. And of course, masks, and personal hygiene remain crucial in helping to prevent infection. Furthermore, there may be other reasons why you may want to have an air purifier at home.
The risk of lower respiratory tract infections increases when there is exposure to particle pollutants. It is believed that pollution damages the airways, increasing the risk of infection. It may also have adverse effects on the immune system, affecting its ability to fight off respiratory infections. Hence it is still an excellent decision to use an air purifier as there are huge health benefits to breathing cleaner air, Dr Loh assures.
This is especially so if your child (or anyone in the household) has a pre-existing condition like asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic lung diseases, or eczema. All these can be exacerbated by pollution.
Statistics also show that outdoor air pollution is associated with low birth weight, and can adversely affect foetal growth, says Dr Loh.
“Everyone can benefit from less exposure to air pollutants. Babies, young children who tend to have more allergies, the chronically-ill with weak immune systems, and the elderly stand to benefit the most from air purifiers,” he confirms.
(See also: Your Child has Asthma? Here are 8 ways to Help)
6 air purifier options for every Singaporean household
1. Bio-X® Ultrasonic Humidifier
Not truly an air purifier, but used together with the Bio-X Kleanze Air disinfectant, this tiny device packs a powerful punch, eliminating more than 99.99% of airborne bacteria and viruses. It also acts as a deodoriser, and an insect-repellant — useful during dengue season. Formulated with botanical extracts, the water-based solution is non-poisonous, DEET-, chlorine-, and alcohol-free. $33 (humidifier), $18 (Kleanze Air, 240ml); https://biovectrol.com/
2. Dyson Purifier Cool™ Formaldehyde air purifier fan TP09
Dyson’s new range of “purification machines” don’t just clear the air. They capture ultra-fine dust, allergens, and also destroy formaldehyde that furniture, paint, wallpaper, and some household cleaning products release. In addition, a fully-sealed filtration system ensures that they remove 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns, while a 20% quieter airflow projection lets little ones nap easy. $999, at https://www.dyson.com.sg/
3. ECOM Mask EK 030 Plus
This industrial-grade air purifier, which will be used in the upcoming NDP2021, has four distinction filtration functions. It uses the world’s first Japanese-patented CIO2 (Chlorine Dioxide) filter, a primary anti-bacterial filter, a 12m-long HEPA filter, and a negative ion plasma generator. These effectively remove particles of 0.1 and 0.3 microns, while an AI sensor adjusts the filtration level required. You can even use it to deodorise, and humidify (if necessary) your space (up to 1,000 sqm) as well. $1,280, at ecomsingapore.sg, Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee, Takashimaya, Tangs Online, Isetan online, and OG.
4. Philips Air Purifier 3000i Series
These sleek tubular devices have a designer aesthetic that will complement any room beautifully. What’s even more attractive? Their ability to effectively remove up to 99.9% of viruses and aerosols from the air. Tests have also demonstrated that the air purifiers can reduce levels of influenza A (H1N1) virus aerosols by 99.9%. Finally, its professional-grade sensor automatically detects pollutants such as pollen, dush, mites, mould spores, and pet dander, and removes them, while offering real-time feedback though an app. From $549, at https://www.philips.com.sg/
5. RUHENS Classic Air Purifier (WHA500)
Compact, and easy to use, Ruhens’ classic air purifier boasts a four-stage purification system. It uses a pre-filter for large particles, an anti-allergy filter for airborne particles such as viruses, a deodorisation filter for formaldehyde, and a HEPA filter that traps microscopic particles (0.3um) including bacteria, cigarette smoke, and common allergens. Get a notification when any particular filter needs replacement. From $854.93, at www.ruhens.com.sg
6. SHARP 4-in-1 L Series Plasmacluster Air Purifier
Sharp’s new L Series functions as an air purifier, a humidifier, an airborne bacteria inactivator, and a stand fan. Its Plasmacluster™ technology harnesses positive and negative ions in the air to form clusters around micro-particles, then render them inactive through a chemical reaction. There’s also a triple filtration system, including an Electrostatic HEPA Filter. This eliminates even the smallest floating particles (PM2.5), and up to 99.97% particulate matter including bacteria, airborne allergens, and mould spores. From $1,199; online, and in shops islandwide