Air purification is catching on – but it may be doing more harm than good | 2/20/2019 | Staff
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I recently found myself in the surreal world of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas discussing the next generation of pollution sensors that one day you might find inside your phone. The exhibits I saw suggested the next big thing in home technology could be anything from intelligent cat litters to internet-enabled teapots, with everything powered by mysterious machine learning and the unfathomable blockchain.

But there was no escaping that air quality and air purification is now a seriously big thing in the consumer products world. Most major white goods manufacturers have a range of products. There are also plenty of start-ups offering new variants – including purifying robots that wander forlornly around your home and bizarre bio-inspired devices that blow air over the leaves of poor unsuspecting houseplants.

Europe - Tech - Gadgets - User - Base

If you live in Europe it could be easy to dismiss these as tech gadgets that may never catch on, but that would be badly misjudging the ever-expanding user base for home air filtration that already exists in Asia and beyond. These devices are for sale because people want them, and the market could be worth in excess of US$30 billion per year by 2023.

In some regards, indoor air purification is an individually empowering technology. In a well-sealed home, filtration-based purifiers clearly make a difference and can noticeably reduce concentrations of tiny harmful particles, particularly if the home is somewhere with lots of pollution outdoors, such as central Beijing or Delhi.

Evidence - Removal - Gases - Indoors - Compounds

The evidence for the removal of harmful gases indoors, including volatile organic compounds from paints and glues, is sketchier. Some systems get the gases to stick to a charcoal-based filter, but there is little independent data that shows these actually work. In other types of purifiers UV radiation is used to accelerate a chemical reaction that turns those gases into carbon dioxide...
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