Can you use your AC as an Air Purifier

Air Pollution in India

Summer is fast approaching and the need for air conditioners is going to become acute. At the same time, many cities in India are also struggling with crippling air pollution. Air pollution is a known killer across the world. Indian cities are some of the worst hit when it comes to air pollution. If you look at the charts for the most polluted cities in the world when it comes to world pollution, India holds a very sorry position. 13 out of the top 20 most polluted cities are in India.

The situation is made worse due to different factors. Many North Indian farmers practice something known as stubble burning. Stubble burning is when farmers burn off the stubble of previous crops which are left over after harvesting. The smoke from this stubble burning travels into the entire Northern plains. Air pollution is also worsened because of automobile and industrial pollution. Hence it is no surprise that almost all of the cities in the top 20 most polluted list are from Northern India.

Health Effects of Air Pollution on Human Beings

Health Effects of Air Pollution
Health Effects of Air Pollution

The effects of air pollution on human beings are drastic. Exposure to air pollution can lead to serious diseases like asthma, bronchitis, COPD, lung cancer and heart attack. According to a recent report, over one million Indians die prematurely every year due to the effects of air pollution. According to the Delhi Heart and Lung Institure, over two million children – half the children in Delhi, have abnormalities in their lung function.

Indoor Air Pollution can be as bad as Outdoor Air Pollution

Now, it is not just being outdoors that will expose you to the brutal effects of air pollution. Indoor air is estimated to be as polluted if not more than outdoor air. A report from the US environmental authority estimated that the level of pollution by some specific pollutants might be as much as 2-5 more than the levels in outdoor air. In Indian homes, smoke and particulate matter from smoking, puja, agarbathis and cooking are some of the common sources of pollutants. Apart from these, wall paints, upholstery, cleaning supplies etc. can also cause the level of indoor pollutants to rise up sharply when compared to outdoor air.

Solution for keeping Indoor Air Clean

Air Purifiers for keeping home air clean

Air purifiers are specialized appliances meant for keeping the air in your home clean. Air Purifiers apply simple filters to the air inside your home, scrubbing them clean of any particulate as well gaseous pollutants. The principle applied is that the air purifier sucks in the dirty air from your home, passes it through various filters and then ejects it using a fan from a different outlet.

HEPA filters used in Air Purifiers

The most important filter in any air purifier is called the HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter. The standard for HEPA is that the filter must be able to remove at least 99.95% or air borne particles whose diameter is greater than or equal to 0.3 micrometers. While this might not mean much to the layman, these are the particles which are suspended in the air and can cause damage to our respiratory systems.

Along with this, you will see many other filters advertised by different manufacturers for their air purifier. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose the air purifier that is right for you.

Using your Air Conditioner as an Air Purifier

Today, there are multiple air conditioners available in India that claim to also double up as air purifiers. However, strictly speaking these are not true air purifiers. The reason for this is that HEPA filters cannot be placed in air conditioners directly. The reason for this is that HEPA filters are extremely dense. Because of their high density, if an HEPA filter is used on an air conditioner directly, it will lead to not enough air getting sucked in by the air conditioner.

If the HEPA filter is used, there will not be enough air reaching the evaporator coil and hence there will not be enough amount of cool air flowing into your room. Now you might ask, is it not easy to add a higher power fan to the air conditioner to force it suck a greater volume of air into it? Well it definitely is possible, the problem is that having a bigger fan will mean that your air conditioner will occupy a greater amount of space and will consume a much larger amount of power.

Due to these reasons, it is not possible to directly mount an HEPA filter on your air conditioner. Instead, manufacturers are placing other technologies called ionizers into their air conditioners. So what do ionizers do exactly?

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