Dear Air Purifier Manufacturers

An Introduction

Air purifiers are machines that help us breathe cleaner air when for some reason the air quality indoors is bad. There are a lot of companies and models out there for costumers to choose and most of them offer some kind of High-efficiency particulate air filtration aka (HEPA).

HEPA filters are made by compressing randomly together thin fibers of glass or synthetic material like PP+PET with diameters between 0.5 and 2.0 microns. The air space between HEPA filter fibers is typically much greater than 0.3 μm.

HEPA Fiber2_0094
Clean HEPA fibres

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Nanoparticles in the air we breathe

What are nanoparticles?

Let’s dive into nanoparticles or as the atmospheric scientists call them ultrafine particles (UFP) or PM0.1. The term nanoparticles applies to material engineering, eventually, both terms are the same thing. A nanoparticle is a microscopic particle with at least one dimension less than 100nm. One nanometer (1nm) is only three to five atoms wide.

Recent research suggests these nanoparticles could be responsible for illness and death beyond our current understanding. We know that PM2.5 is quite small and can penetrate deep inside our bodies and it can reach even the alveolar sacs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs.
PM2.5 is around 2,500 nanometers (nm) in diameter. However, nanoparticles are 100nm (0.1μm) or less. In comparison, they are 25 times smaller, as a result, they can reach any organ in our bodies.

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See The Air – Proof that air pollution kills

Since my first book “See The Air | The Essential Guide for Optimal Air Quality in Your Life“ was published back in 2017 many have read it, and many have followed my example and tried to write and describe the problem too.

There is some interest in the field, and I want to contribute even more by gathering all the available information regarding air pollution and its impact on health in this book. My intention here is clear, I want to shock people and authorities and make it clear that there is proof. Air pollution kills millions of people every year, and there is no excuse not to listen to brilliant scientists and the noble work they have done.

The book is available in digital and paperback form.

or

Local Haze v1.4 + uRAD Monitors

I have already mentioned this app on a previous post but I was waiting for this update anxiously as it brings more sensors to the app. Local Haze is an app for iOS devices that helps consumers easily view and understand air quality data, in particular, Particulate Matter with aerodynamic diameters less than or equal to 2.5 microns (μm) also known as PM2.5.

What’s new?

Amazingly, the team behind Local Haze was able to connect to the uRAD Monitors API, as a result users and communities will be able to see PM2.5 data right from their phone or tablet with just a tap. Additionally, the users can now view PM1.0 and PM10 values when the sensors support these measurements.

This update to the Local Haze app also benefits Smoggie users and especially my volunteers around the world since it allows users to view and monitor the data from these devices.

Of course, the app supports many more data sources like PurpleAir, Luftdaten (with over 11,000 online devices), AirNow, US Department of State, uRADMonitors, and more to come.

iphone local haze
Local Haze v1.4, Smoggie Volunteer in Barcelona, Spain

Why is it important?

The easier and more comfortable we present data to the average people the more likely it is for them to embrace the technologies which are designed to increase awareness and to combat air pollution. People love their phones and they spend a great deal of time interacting with them, by porting air quality data to such devices, with the help of a free app, then it enables them to interact with their environment/communities.

Right now, while people all over the world are patiently waiting to go outdoors again, trying out Local Haze will show you the air quality outside your door. The covid-19 pandemic helped us see how air quality has improved significantly in cities all over the world and understand that urban air pollution is anthropogenic. It’s up to all of us to keep improving the way we live and the air we breathe.

Is Covid-19, the catalyst to become more aware of the air pollution crisis?

It’s been a huge topic the fact that air quality in cities has improved dramatically since the lockdown began. Huge coverage from media all around the world. Most surprisingly, I get emails from people telling me that now they are able to see in much further distances on the horizon and the air smells clean as the air pollutants are not present in the atmosphere and I quote below a couple of the emails.

I thought of you this morning….with everyone staying home the pollution has almost went away…the air smells so good… (Texas, USA)

…it is amazing now we can see clearly the horizon from my house… (Los Angeles, USA)

With many examples like here in Madrid, air pollution falls 56% in the second half of March. In London, there is 28μg/m3 less NO2 in the atmosphere and in Edinburgh a whopping 37% decrease of NO2.

Which leads me to the conclusion that now people are more aware of the air pollution than before covid-19. People were used to living in polluted environments & didn’t understand the difference. If your whole life you live in an area where the AQ is poor you don’t expect more, you just take it as it is and unfortunately, without complaining. Most of the times you can’t even do anything as it doesn’t depend on you, some simple examples are when a neighbour is burning wood and when you leave near a busy road.

The other day I was asked what can we do to educate older generations about the issue. It is complicated because once you finish your studies and you start working or searching for a job, your mind is occupied with the need to support you and your family economically and you don’t care about the environment. A healthy and stable economy is a key ingredient to make everyone aware of our responsibility on this planet.

We need effective governance on long-term health and climate issues with the same willpower as are showing with this pandemic − covid-19.

Djinn vs COVID-19

In September 2019, I reviewed a great air quality monitor called Djinn. One of the unique features of this device is the algorithms that are running in its core. The team of Djinn was able to move even further their technology by designing a respiratory virus risk among others analytics on their dashboard, which is very handy during the covid-19 pandemic.

respiratory virus activity

The team took part in the “A Call for Actiontowards building the data infrastructure and ecosystem we need to tackle pandemics and other dynamic societal and environmental threats.Read More »

Series of Innovators: Insplorion

Starting with Insplorion AB, I am going to feature a series of articles about innovators in the field of air quality monitoring. My aim with these articles is to push the industry into the right direction. I don’t see air pollution as a way to make money but as a way to fix a problem, so by creating the right tools (sensors, air quality monitors, software, etc) we can shape the future towards a sustainable and less polluted environment.

Introduction

Insplorion AB was founded in 2010 in Sweden, Europe by a team of professionals, Bengt Kasemo, Elin Larsson Langhammer, Christoph Langhammer and Igor Zoric. Although it is relatively a small company with less than 20 employees it is very active in nanotechnology, product research and sensor development. Insplorion’s core technology is the NanoPlasmonic Sensing (NPS),at least in my opinion, which you can read and learn how it works more on the interview below.

Interview

1. Tell us a bit about your motivation in developing air quality sensors?

We were approached by an entrepreneur who wanted to make a portable air quality device. He had scanned the market for all sensor technologies and not found any functional, especially for NO2. All current sensors were either too bulky, way too pricy or not sensitive or stable enough.  When we dug deeper into the field, we confirm the problem and saw that the unmet need in the expanding air quality sensor market fitted very well with our core advantages: sensitive yet robust, and easy to miniaturize. Read More »