Purifiered Air

Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions about an air purifier lies with the name itself. If you purchased an air purifier to actually purify your air, then you have surely been misled. The reason is simple: air purifiers are not designed to purify air, and it is impossible for them to do so. The problem lies with the misunderstanding of the difference between purified and filtered air.

Consider what the manufacturers say degrades your air or makes it impure:

  • Dust.
  • Dust mites.
  • Pollen.
  • Cigarette smoke.
  • Mold spores.
  • Bacteria.
  • Pet dander.
  • Fumes.
  • Gaseous chemicals.

While all the above certainly can make breathing difficult (depending on how much is present and the size of the room you are in and whether the windows are open or closed) you are still able to breathe just fine. The essential element is the ability to breathe properly as it relates to air purity.

Fresh air consists of 78 percent nitrogen, with 20.9 percent oxygen and 0.3 percent carbonic-acid gas. You know which of the three humans depend upon the most: oxygen. The quality of oxygen present is the true litmus test for the purity of the air we breathe.

Have you ever heard an air purifier company claim that their system actually increases or adds to the oxygen component in the air it supposedly purifies? Fresh air consists of about 20.9 percent oxygen, and the volume of air in a single breath is about 20 cubic inches  just a little smaller than a baseball.

Adults take about 18 breaths per minute or 1,080 breaths in an hour, which is equivalent to breathing about 12 cubic feet of air. By the end of the day for most people, that is about 350 cubic feet about the same size as a 7×7-foot small room. Because of our oxygen needs, the loss of even 1 percent of the 20.9 percent of oxygen that fresh air contains makes air less supporting.

The air you exhale has less oxygen than it did when you breathed it in. Less oxygen of any degree equals air degradation and impurity. When the air is degraded and you are present in it for long durations, besides the other pollutants in it, it can lead to eventual health issues. If you quit breathing, or you’re breathing air that has already been breathed in and out (by you or others), then carbon will accumulate in the blood. In just half a minute, the blood in your arteries is noticeably darker; in 45 seconds it takes on dusky hue, and in 90 seconds the blood in your arteries becomes nearly black. If a room experiences a rise in carbonic acid in 5 percent of its volume, death can result.

Think about what happens when you rarely or never open your windows, and you have pollutants floating around, and you’re breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Let’s say we run several competing brands of air purifiers in this room at the same time. Which of them is going to purify your air on top of removing all the contaminants? You might check off the boxes for pollen, cigarette smoke, and most gaseous chemicals, but the most important box goes left unchecked. None of the systems will add quality oxygen back into the air of that closed-up room.

What is an air purifier really purifying?

The answer to that is a resounding nothing. Air purifiers do not purify the air. Then what are they actually doing? They are filtering your air. This is the only thing actually being accomplished besides fanning back out recycled filtered air.

This is the sole reason that so much advertising emphasis is focused on the amount of microns and the quality of the filters that the systems have. If you were to remove the filters from the machines, then all they would do is suck in and spit back out the same air. But the problem with these air filters is the notion that they are sold as “air purifiers,” something that they completely fail at and are incapable of doing.

Just removing the pollutants from the air doesn’t purify the air. Neither do those pollutants present in the air really “degrade” the air or make it “impure.” If it is truly the case that dander, mold spores, and dust actually create impure air, then what is the difference between outside air and indoor air? Think on that and consider that the same so-called impurities exist both indoors and outdoors. For that matter, how do you think they came to be indoors in the first place? That’s right, they hitched onto your clothes, shoes, socks, and hair. If we believe what the air purification companies say is impure air, then all outside air is impure. It’s impossible for the air outside to become totally impure.

Why? The reason is simple, outside air is being constantly rejuvenated with fresh oxygen. However, there is really a very obvious difference when you take into consideration the air in and around a metro area compared with the air in a mountain wilderness. On an elementary level, the fewer trees and plants present, the less oxygen there is produced. Also in the city, you must contend with the air pollution from vehicles and factories and CO2 emissions that will have a direct impact on the quality of oxygen available in the air.

The other factor is the wind – the element that helps to keep things moving; it is the same basic difference as water in a stagnant pond and a flowing stream. Let me briefly return to the subject of asthma. Much of the industry advertising focuses on pollutants as a great determining factor in the symptoms of the asthmatic.

However, consider the difference between a person in a closed-up room and one who opens up their windows every day. Outdoor exercise improves the metabolism of the asthmatic. Sitting in a warm and stuffy room will exacerbate problems; a quick bicycle ride or a brisk walk can alleviate them. The exercise and fresh air encourage active oxidation in the tissues and result in a freer airway in the nose.

The only way to really purify your air is to exchange stagnant oxygen-depleted air with fresh air rich in oxygen. It is nearly impossible to enjoy healthy oxygen-rich air if you run a filter spitting out recycled, degraded air while you stay inside with the windows closed day in and day out. This is a perfect recipe for causing or exacerbating respiratory issues, especially if you add habitual mouth breathing into the mix. Air filters, also, are not designed to deal with increasing carbonic acid gas levels in the air.