Pandemic drives demand for air purifiers

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic courtesy of Philips

THE Covid-19 pandemic has heightened awareness for clean air, especially now that people are spending more time at home, driving more demand for air purifiers.

“Overall, there was an increased demand for air purifiers driven by the pandemic, while people looked for ways to improve the quality of air around them. If you look around us these days, there are air purifiers in places, such as cafés and fitness studios.

“The awareness of indoor air quality and the importance of air purifiers to help keep indoor air clean has increased exponentially,” Philips Asia Pacific personal health leader Nicholas Lee (picture) told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

According to Lee, studies have shown the air indoors can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and is often compromised by PM2.5 ultrafine particles, allergens, bacteria, harmful gases, as well as air humidity.

He said numerous forms of indoor air pollution lurk in modern indoor spaces, giving rise to chronic health conditions, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, that affect more than 20% of the world’s population today.

“To keep pollutants, bacteria and viruses at bay, it is important to use an air purifier that is equipped with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters for effective air purification which can help improve indoor environments and reduce exposure to the irritants and allergens that may trigger symptoms,” he explained.

Lee said there are three main ways in which air becomes polluted, namely through suspended particles, ventilation and humidity.

“Particles may in part come from outdoor pollution, but can also form indoors by the burning of fuels for heating and cooking. Low humidity indoors can cause eye irritation, dry skin and rashes, whereas high humidity can result in water damage and mold problems, which favours the growth of dust mites, while poorly-aired ventilation prevents the air exchange,” he said.

Other causes of indoor air pollution can be derived from asbestos, tobacco smoke, biological pollutants such as mold and bacteria, wood stoves and pesticides that are used in homes.

Lee said Philips has had a long history in this category over several decades and has an aim to empower Malaysian consumers to make healthcare an individual responsibility.

“It’s important to select air purifiers that clean the air with very high efficiencies and at high airflows to ensure effective aerosol removal reflected from clean air delivery rate (CADR) measures. Looking at the filter alone only tells half the story; you always need the combination of filtration and airflow, to give you the best balance for a good CADR,” Lee said.

Room sizes and capacity also make a difference as it affects which type of purifier is being used for optimum effects.

“Consumers may also consider the ease of use of the purifier which provides real-time, numerical feedback, coupled with a simple colour- coding system on indoor air quality for continuous monitoring. This is done via the colours, ranging from blue (good allergen and particle level) to red (bad allergen and particle level),” he said.

Lee said some of the ongoing plans for Philips this year will include exploring partnerships with the government, healthcare providers and associations to educate the public on the importance of health and personal care, while continuing to raise awareness of various health issues through global observances.

“Personal health has always been a priority for us. With societies opening up, consumers want to feel reassured that organisations are taking greater responsibility for health and safety by installing air purifiers to ensure purification of the indoor air.

“Philips envisions a new health paradigm, one that values health promotion and prevention just as much as treatment, recognising the needs and expectations of the modern health consumer,” Lee said.