Why you should care about indoor air quality.
On smoggy days you might be tempted to keep your family at home, but a study performed by the Baptist University found that pollution levels can be up to 1,250% higher indoors than outdoors. That’s worse than some of Hong Kong’s busiest streets! But don’t fret, mama, while you pick your jaw up off the floor, there are ways to improve your indoor air quality.
Dust, mould, chemical solvents from cleaning supplies, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), beauty products, pet hair and pollution are all contributing factors to poor indoor air quality. Thankfully, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to improve air quality — purchasing an air purifier, indoor plants and changing some of the everyday products you use can all make a big difference.
If you have kids who have major issues with asthma, allergens and other sensitivities, an air purifier may be the best investment you can make for them.
When looking for an air purifier, pay attention to how much air passes through them during a period of time in either “cubic feet per minute” (CFM) or in “cubic metres per hour” (CMH). Another important feature is the “air changes per hour” (ACH). In general, two ACH is reasonable for the average household.
Types of air purifier
Air Purifier by BÉABA
As parents, we all want to ensure our little ones are breathing the purest air possible. We might not be able to control the quality outside, but thankfully we can do something about our homes. BÉABA, the trusted brand behind some of our favourite baby feeding products, has created an air purifier specifically for use in your baby’s bedroom. It features a night mode (with a built-in nightlight and ultra-quiet mode) and a 360-degree air inlet and outlet so the fresh air is distributed in all directions (up to 18m²). Most importantly, the Air Purifier by BÉABA eliminates 99.97% of harmful airborne particles including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bacteria, dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke and other allergens by using an advanced four-stage filtration process. Make your nursery a safe and healthy space for your baby to breathe easily. See the features in action in this YouTube clip.
Recommended Retail Price: $1,299 (filter included)
Ionised purifiers use an electrical charge to change the charge of the atoms passing through the filter or steel surface. This process purifies the air of bacteria and viruses. Some filters can be washed and reused or the steel surface can be wiped, but ionised purifiers tend not to be as effective as HEPA filters. Many air purifiers come with both an ioniser and a HEPA filter. Personal and portable sized ionisers are extremely popular here in Hong Kong.
Air Tamer A310 Personal Air Purifier – small and portable, it releases 2,000,000 negative ion pieces per second. You wear this air purifier around your neck and it will last around 150 hours on one charge. $1,050 HKD at Fortress.
HEPA-based filters are certified to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns. They are highly effective provided the filter is changed on a regular basis. HEPA filters can be a bit pricey to replace but they are well worth it. Further, the pricier models tend to be a lot quieter, have filter replacement notifications and can have smart technology that adapts to accommodate your environment.
HealthPro 100 (NE) from IQAir – An air purifier with a two-stage hospital-grade HEPA air filter. Price available on request from IQAir.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is generally used in medical facilities as it kills viruses that can be as small as 0.08-micrometres that may pass through many other filters. Combined with a filter, an air purifier with a UV light is an effective air purifier and steriliser.
S1000 – PCO Silent Air Purifier by AirSteril – A quiet air purifier and ioniser that helps destroy VOCs and allergens while the UV light effectively sterilises airborne bacteria, viruses, black mould and fungal growth. Price on request from AirSteril.
Activated carbon is excellent at removing VOCs from the air. VOCs are incredibly small and are something that HEPA filters can miss. Many air purifiers have filters that combine both an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter.
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Cryptomic Air Purifier – Includes an activated carbon filter with a HEPA filter as well as a heating and cooling fan. You can also monitor your air quality with the accompanying app. $6,880 HKD from Dyson.
Where to Buy an Air Purifier?
- Fortress – Large selection of different brands and types.
- Renaud Air – Offers free air quality tests as well as rental options.
- Dyson – Visit in shop or order online.
- AirSteril – Home and corporate air purifiers.
- Eco Shop – Carries the Canadian brand Amaircare.
- Broadway — Large selection of different brands and types.
- WOW Living – Car, desktop, and personal-sized air purifiers.
- Lane Crawford — Aeris, Dyson and BlueAir brands available.
- HKTV Mall – A selection of air purifiers from Chinese, Korean and Western manufacturers.
- IQAir – Free air quality tests. Has products for residential and commercial use.
- Oxyvital — Local Hong Kong brand with German design for commercial and residential use.
- GreenBox – Local online shop that carries the brands Austin Air, Hoover and BlueAir, as well as pre-owned IQAir purifiers.
Once you’ve decided on your purifier, determine where you want the filter in your home and make sure that it’s large enough to cover the square footage of the space. Some air purifiers are better at filtering out viruses while others are better at filtering out allergens, dust and mould, so take a look at your families’ needs to see what type of air purifier is the most suitable.
Cleaning And Household Supplies
Believe it or not, many common cleaning products may actually be destroying your air quality. Many of these products contain VOCs and even bleach and ammonia-based cleaning products can react to create dangerous pollutants in your home. Even products that are labelled as “green” can still contain solvents that are bad for your health. This also goes for beauty products like deodorants, perfumes, lotions and even candles. Just because it smells great, doesn’t mean it belongs on your body or in your home. Thankfully there are other natural alternatives that are easy to switch to. Try out these local eco-friendly beauty brands for some alternatives that will help you breathe easier.
While having any indoor plant in your home will help with air quality, there are certain types that are more effective than others. NASA actually performed a study in the late 80s that listed the best plants at removing airborne toxins, carcinogens, dust and germs. Here are some its top picks:
- English Ivy
- Boston Fern
- Gerber Daisy
- Spider Plant
- Weeping Fig
- Devil’s Ivy
- Broadleaf Lady Palm
- Bamboo Palm
- Chinese Evergreen
- Peace Lily
- Rubber Plant
Air conditioners are an essential appliance if you live in Hong Kong. However, most people don’t take the time to clean them which can mean that dust, allergens, bacteria, fungi, mould, pollutants and more can be recirculated into your home every time you turn them on. A real risk is Legionnaires’ disease which is caused by Legionella bacteria that can grow and build up in your air conditioning unit. Be sure to take the time to clean out the filter of your air conditioners every month to prevent build up and get the units cleaned bi-annually by professionals to help maintain your air quality.