The current pandemic has only highlighted the necessity of ensuring the quality of indoor air in restaurants and stores, offices and schools, and at home. Through air conditioning, disease-causing pathogens, much like Sars-CoV-2 can spread from person to person via droplets and aerosols. Without ample ventilation, viruses can cross distances and spread more easily.
But, illnesses are not the only concern. The air outdoors is not getting any better. Despite improvements over the past decades, the quality of air in the United States has actually dropped in recent years after former President Donald J. Trump rolled back regulations designed to limit emissions. Moreover, as climate change grows worse, the nation, and the rest of the world, can expect bigger, longer-lasting, and more frequent wildfires that will only make the quality of air outdoors worse.
Air is important. There is no question about that. Its deterioration, therefore, is a problem. However, people should not panic. Increasingly, there is technology being introduced to the market that will make breathing safer.
Must-Have Devices Indoors
As days become warmer and more humid because of rising global temperatures, people will rely more and more on their air conditioners. However, using the AC regularly poses some risk to your and your loved ones’ health.
To ensure that the air you breathe indoors is free of any harmful pathogens and pollutants, you will need to be vigilant. Do your regular maintenance work such as replacing the filter as frequently as the manufacturer recommended and cleaning the unit. Occasionally, you will need to call an AC repair service professional to keep the unit in its best condition. Aside from the filter, other parts of the AC can become clogged with dirt which not only breaks the unit but will also spread dust around the house.
Homeowners can monitor the quality of the air they breathe at home by using monitors. There are various options in the market, and they all do different things. The Awair Element, for example, has the capacity to detect the presence of carbon dioxide in the air which is a good indicator that the room is not getting enough ventilation. The device can also detect volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and atmospheric particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). This information will give you an idea of what substances are floating in your home before they cause harm to yourself or your family.
There are also devices that specifically remove the bad stuff out of the air you breathe. They are called air purifiers. They work by sucking in the air, move it through its multiple filters, and then recirculate it across the room. That way, even without opening your windows, there is an assurance that the air you breathe is free of harmful substances.
The Air Outside Your Door
Outdoor air is a lot trickier because, unlike the environment at home, it is not something that you can control. There are also limits to what you can do to protect yourself.
There is one device that can effectively filter the air that you breathe: masks. The masks that saved you throughout the pandemic will also guard you against pollutants that hang in the air outside.
In cities in China where air pollution is a daily problem, people coped by wearing face masks. Anything that can filter PM2.5 can offer relief from the hazardous gases and microscopic materials in the air.
There is a more high-tech device released recently by the company Ao Air. The Atmos Facewear, which debuted at CES, is said to be 50 times better at cleansing the air you breathe than regular face coverings. The $350 device has a filtration system and fans to trap particles and create fresh air for the wearer.
There is also a portable device that can analyze the quality of air outdoors. Flow from Plume Labs measures VOCs, nitrous oxide, and various sizes of particulate matter (PM 2.5, PM 10, PM 1).
Similarly, a device called the AirBeam can measure particulate matter as well as temperature and humidity. What makes the device special is the ability to aggregate data from other users and create a map of areas where the pollutants are particularly high.
Both Flow and AirBeam can provide people enough information about the air quality outdoors, so they can decide to wear a mask for that day or take another route to work or school.
Despite the availability of these technologies, everyone is responsible for maintaining clean air quality indoors and outdoors. People should be aware of how their actions contribute to pollution, so they can make better choices that will benefit their health and the planet.