What An Air Purifier For Smoke Can Do For You
If you or someone in your house smokes, investing in an air purifier for smoke is essential for the well-being of everyone in the house.
While all air purifiers are well equipped to handle large particles of dust, pollen or other allergens, only the best air purifiers can handle smoke.
Why Is Smoke Harmful?
According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco smoke is made up of around 7,000 chemicals. Of these, at least 250 are harmful, and 69 are known to cause cancer.
In a 2014 report of the Surgeon General, it was estimated that smoking caused around 480,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S.
Tobacco smoke is nearly just as harmful to nonsmokers as it is for smokers. Nonsmokers can inhale two types of tobacco smoke, sidestream smoke, and mainstream smoke. Sidestream smoke is the smoke released by burning tobacco. This is the same smoke inhaled by smokers. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that comes out when exhaled by a smoker.
Tobacco smoke in all its forms is highly dangerous for adults, but even more so for children, elderly people or those in poor health. At its best, tobacco smoke can lower one’s immunity. This can lead to serious health issues further down the line. Children can get ear infections, pneumonia, and even SIDS.
Apart from cancer, tobacco smoke can also lead to heart disease and fertility issues. Pregnant women and their babies are also at risk if exposed to tobacco smoke for longer periods of time.
All smoke is harmful to some degree. Wood smoke can also damage your lungs and irritate your nose and throat. Burnt plastic releases all sorts of toxic chemicals in the air. In short, you don’t want smoke around the house.
What Is Smoke Made Up Of?
Most smoke, including tobacco, is made up of two types of matter: particulate matter and gaseous pollutants.
Particulate matter is the largest component of smoke. It is actually a combination of solids and liquids. These are the particles you can see in smoke.
However, some particulate matter is not visible with the naked eye. Some can be as small as 0.1 microns. At this size, particulate matter can easily enter your lungs, causing heavy breathing and irritation.
Gaseous pollutants are the gases released when tobacco is burned. Some of these gases are known to contribute to the development of cancer and lung and heart issues.
How an Air Purifier for Smoke Can Help
Air purifiers for smoking can trap some of the harmful pollutant matter that makes up smoke. They are particularly efficient in homes with a moderate amount of tobacco smoke. To a certain extent, air purifiers can also help reduce tobacco odor.
Note that most air purifiers are not able to trap the smallest smoke particles, nor handle the gaseous pollutants. That’s because most homeowners are interested in air purifiers that can handle common allergens, such as pollen, dust or pet dander. These allergen particles are much larger than what you find in smoke.
Air purifiers use different types of filtering systems to clean the air. These filtering systems are designed to catch all sorts of airborne particles and gases. Each filter is good at catching some things, but you won’t find a filter that can capture everything
Some, such as HEPA filters or ionized air purifiers, are better at getting rid of particulate matter. These filters will help get rid of the larger harmful particles of tobacco smoke.
Activated carbon filters, on the other hand, are better at capturing gases. When it comes to tobacco smoke, these filters can trap most of the harmful gaseous pollutants. Activated charcoal filters also help with tobacco smoke odor.
How to Choose the Best Air Purifier for Smoke
There several types of air purifiers available on the market. You can find ionizer air purifiers, ozone air purifiers, or UV air purifiers, to name a few. However, arguably the best air purifiers for smoking are those that use HEPA and activated carbon filters.
There are air purifiers that use HEPA filtering systems. These are the ones we briefly mentioned earlier. They use HEPA filters and air fans to bring in air from the room through the HEPA filters and then push the clean air back out. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air.
A commercial HEPA filter is designed to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. To give you an idea of what that means, car emissions are between 1 and 60 microns in size. There are also HEPA filters that can capture particles even smaller than that, but these are generally used in electronics and pharmaceutical companies.
HEPA filters are very efficient when it comes to removing particles from the air. However, they are not very good at handling gases or odors.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters, or simply carbon filters, use a form of carbon that has been processed to become highly porous. Carbon filters are very good at handling things such as chemical emissions, gases and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
They are not very good at handling large particles, however. Activated carbon filters must be replaced on a regular basis to maintain efficiency.
Which Air Purifier Is Best?
The truth is no air purifier will completely eliminate all tobacco smoke components. Your best option is to use a combination of air purifying systems.
A hybrid air purifier that incorporates both true HEPA filters and activated carbon is your best bet at handling both the particulate matter and gaseous pollutants in tobacco smoke.
When purchasing an air purifier for smoke, be sure to check the MERC rating of your HEPA filter. The MERV rating indicates the size of the particles the filter can capture. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles the HEPA filter can stop. The MERV rating goes from 1 to 20, with 20 being the highest possible rating. You won’t really find commercial HEPA filters that go that high.
You should also be mindful of the level of carbon in your carbon filter. You’ll want a filter that has a high level of carbon, so you don’t have to replace it as often. Replacing your carbon filter when it is full is absolutely essential to keeping your air purifying system efficient. A full carbon filter can release the gases it has accumulated back into the air if it isn’t replaced on time.
Be sure to check the actual power of the air purifier you are purchasing, as well. If your air purifier takes a long time to suck in the air and pass it through the filters, you won’t really get rid of the tobacco smoke. That’s because tobacco smoke is at its densest when it leaves the cigarette. After it’s passed out and starts floating up, it gets thinner and thinner, and harder to capture.
What Else Can You Do Against Tobacco Smoke?
The easiest thing you can do to get rid of tobacco smoke and smell in your house is to stop smoking in the house, of course. However, if that’s not really an option, the least you can do is make sure you, or the person who smokes, only does so in one room. This will make it easier for the air purifier to keep the smoke in check.
You should also keep your air purifier running overnight, if at all possible. That way, the purifier has a better chance of getting all the air in the room in and filtering it.
If quitting is not on the table, perhaps it would be better to look into in-duct air purifiers. In the long run, they are less expensive than portable air purifiers. They are less noisy and can manage the air quality of your entire home. They also have a better chance of capturing more smoke than smaller air purifiers.
Getting rid of smoke in your house might sound complicated, but with the help of someone who’s in the know, you’ll be sure to find the best solution! Call Air Hawk AC at (813) 929-4295 if you’re in the area for an evaluation and find out what indoor air quality solutions are right for you!