If you are planning to purchase an air purifier with your hard-earned money as air around you gets toxic, think again. According to health experts, air purifiers are not the only solution to keep your indoor air clean as the same job can be done by placing indoor plants like Peace lily or Boston Fern, along with keeping the environment dust-free.
The air in Delhi and nearby areas was classified as "severe" on Friday, with the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) declaring an air emergency and the state government ordering all schools to remain shut till November 5.
According to the US Embassy here, PM 2.5 level on Friday hit 450 on air quality index (AQI). According to Safar India, the PM 10 count, which was earlier in "very poor" category, reached "severe" at AQI of 555.
"Air purifiers help reduce air contamination inside the house and reduce indoor air pollution to some extent. Air filters are effective for indoor pollution, especially with good High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. However, these can't be a replacement for outdoor pollution," Shalendra Goel, Associate Director, Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.
According to Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant - Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, air purifiers are effective only if all the windows and doors are closed.
It is advisable to shut windows and doors for maximum effectiveness if you have a sick person at home.
"Just keep your home clean and don't allow any of your family members to smoke inside. Also, make sure that you place your shoes outside your living area or place them at your doorstep," said Chawla.
According to Shiba Kalyan Biswal, Consultant, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in Gurugram, usual air purifiers filter Particulate Matter (PM) up to size 0.3 microns from the ambient air by which they can help improve the air quality.
To improve air quality by natural means, keep the doors and windows open for a short duration when the pollution levels are high. Keeping indoor plants can help purify indoor air, said Biswal.
"Indoor plants which are better known for their quality of improving indoor air are Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, Weeping Fug, Spider Plant, Snake Plant, Dragon Tree, Areca Palm and Boston Fern," Biswal told IANS.
Pawan Kumar, a New Delhi resident, has been using an air purifier for the last couple of years. He said: "We are using an air purifier because of our two-year-old daughter. Post-Diwali, we did not see any major benefits as the air pollution is rising. We hardly see any positive effect."
According to Piyush Goel, Pulmonologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram, they advise people to use air purifiers if they have a history of respiratory problems and allergies.
"Also, air purifiers are recommended at this time of the year when air pollution is at a peak. People can use it overnight to fetch the full effectiveness, which is also advisable for babies and infants. While going out, people should use masks N99 and N95," he suggested.
Piyush, however, suggested that indoor plants can be used to purify the air.
"One lesser-known and debatable thing is that air conditioners also act as an air purifier; they extract the air from outside and give filtered air, which is pollutant-free to some extent. But this can be used only in summer or on the temperature of 28-30 degree Celsius," the doctor said, adding that elderly people, children and people who are susceptible to allergies are recommended to get 'flu shots'.
"Avoid going out for walking and running outside, especially in the morning and evening, during high pollution days. Plants and trees inside and around the house can be helpful to some extent. Avoid burning waste in and around the residential colonies," said Shalendra.