Four Ways to Purify Your Air at Home

You can't do much about the air outside, but we've got solutions to help improve the air in your home

You can’t do much about the smoggy, smoky air outside, but we’ve got solutions that can absolutely help improve the air your breathe in your home

Until B.C.’s forest fires are under control and Vancouver’s skies are completely smoke-free once again, our lungs could benefit from a some easy clean-air hacks.

Air purifiers work by pulling pollutants, particulates, allergens and harmful chemicals from the air and trapping them before releasing the cleaned air back into your personal environment. Even during warm summer months when windows are open, there’s still a noticeable improvement to the air quality in your immediate area.

From high tech to DIY to NASA-approved solutions, there are more options than you might think to effectively improve your indoor air quality.

Here are four easy ways to purify the air in your home that really do work…


1. Grow your fresh air

Intuitively, we know that plants clear the air by converting carbon dioxide into fresh oxygen. This was conclusively proven by NASA in a 1989 study (that continues to be the definitive standard on this topic), where they collected plants and put them into chambers that were pumped full of harmful chemicals like ammonia, zylene and carcinogens such as formaldehyde, beneze and trichloroethylene.

After 24 hours, they tested the air quality and found that some plants removed up to 90 percent of the chemicals. Which ones? Boston ferns, peace lilies, snake plants, Chinese evergreens and gerbera daisies all had the best surface-area to chemical-removal ratios. But no one wants a dozen gerbera daisy plants so, instead, try a couple of large, leafy Areca palms or fluffy ferns in your living room and four or more (the ideal number per person) snake plants in the bedroom as these plants do their oxygen conversion work at night. Bonus: snake plants thrive in low light conditions and are nearly impossible to kill unless you over water them.


2. Wash your air

Have you ever noticed that as you approach a waterfall the air is noticeably crisper and cleaner? Using an ultrasonic water diffuser at home will have the same effect as it produces a superfine mist. This mist contains negatively charged ion particles that are attracted to and bind with positively charged dust particles, making them just heavy enough to fall. Just like a waterfall, ultrasonic diffusers “wash” your air. Add a natural essential oil blend like Saje’s pine-based Rain Forest to stimulate the brain or the uplifting, citrus-y Liquid Sunshine to energize without caffeine.
Saje AromaOm ultrasonic diffuser, $89.95


3. Dyson Pure Cool, multiplying clean air

Part fan, part air purifier, part air-quality sensor, Dyson’s new Pure Cool appliance improves upon the traditional fan and air purifier by taking the best of each and creating a hybrid that’s even better. And, being a Dyson, it’s also part sculpture.

Like any good HEPA filter, Pure Cool traps 99.97 percent of airborne pollutants and allergens down to 0.3 microns. But where it really excels is in its ability to circulate air with its Air Multiplier technology, quickly cleaning an entire room no matter where it’s placed.

Despite the very convenient remote that magnetically attaches to the top of the filter, controlling Pure Cool with your smartphone through Bluetooth is infinitely easier, providing more options than the remote allows forsuch as defining an incredibly precise oscillation rangein addition to the basic controls.

Air flow can also be reversed so that it acts only as an air filter, which will prove addicting once you start monitoring the air quality through Pure Cool’s three sensors (another reason to use your phone). It will track particles and gases in real time, even automatically turning itself on (if set to auto mode) when it senses a spike in bacteria, pollen, VOCs, mould and other unwanted irritants.
Dyson Pure Cool, starting at $549.99 for desk model


4. Make a DIY HEPA filter

While air conditioners are rare in Vancouver, almost everyone has a basic fan. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to transform your fan into a high-energy particulate absorber (HEPA) device. Simply buy a standard, inexpensive HEPA furnace filter that’s approximately the same size as your fan and attach it to the front (where the air blows outwards) by means of rubber bands, duct tape, self-adhesive Velcro, or whatever will hold it on. HEPA filters, when attached securely, will remove 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger. This DIY version obviously won’t be a perfect fit but will still remove up to 90 percent* of pollutants and at a fraction of the cost of a commercial HEPA air purifier.
*Jeffrey E. Terrell, M.D., Director Michigan Sinus Center, University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine, 27 June 2011