[Music] so it feels great being out here in the open but studies show that in reality we spend 90 of our time indoors now with various studies pointing to covet 19 being potentially airborne is it time we pay more attention to the air we are breathing at home i bought myself an air purifier about five years ago when singapore was dealing with the regional haze crisis but you know what i haven’t been using it it’s been sitting here in my storeroom oh i think for the past three years so in this episode of talking point i want to find out if we really need air purifiers in our home and just how effective are these things sales for air purifiers surged when singapore was hit by the regional haze in 2018 and when the corvette 19 pandemic struck early this year demand spiked again retailers say sales went up by up to five times compared with the same period last year do you have any air purifiers at all yeah i do i do have a fire at home i ran the home studio so it’s very important to keep the air clean at home what made you get them worry about dust and allergies and do you find that it’s been effective when you breathe you actually feel that the air is thinner especially the smell you put it there the smell will go on there’s less dust and what i understand the filter can trap bacteria and viruses there’s growing evidence that suggests corvette 19 is airborne this means that if i am in a poorly ventilated enclosed space with an infected person i might contract the virus too of course we’re looking at an extended exposure of about 30 minutes but still it’s better to be safe than sorry i want to know if air purifiers can rid the air of the coronavirus so i’m going to the one place that will have all the answers about colvit 19.
singapore’s national center for infectious diseases dr glory joy tan specializes in controlling and preventing infection and was involved in developing a test to check symptoms for corvette 19 infections so is the air purifier able to catch those particles from the coronavirus based on our current understanding uh the main modality of transmission of covat19 remains primarily through respiratory droplets as well as contact transmission however there may be certain circumstances in which airborne transmission of covet-19 could occur and this may be in a setting where there are a lot of people within a very enclosed space doing very specific activities such as speaking in very loud voices or singing most of the air filters that we are talking about these days pride themselves on having an hipaa filter and the hipaa filter holds itself to a very high standard in that it’s specified to filter out up to i think 99.97 of particles this includes infective pathogens and viruses and so i guess an air purifier with a hepa filter would probably be quite effective especially if the air sort of circulates through the air purifier multiple times however having said that i think we should be mindful not to think of the air purifier as like a magic bullet i think the overall strategy to reduce one’s risk really would be to include things like frequent hand washing wiping of surfaces air purifier itself while it may provide an adjunct to improving the air quality shouldn’t be thought of as like the magic bullet to keeping ourselves safe from infective pathogens in general basic air purifiers come with what’s called hepa filters and activated carbon hepa filters are a grader filter that can remove microscopic particles in the air together with the activated carbon these air purifiers claim to remove harmful substances from the air by up to 99.9 percent an air purifier with a heaper filter may protect us from covert 19 in the air but as i’ve learned it’s no magic bullet covet 19 isn’t the only thing that’s lurking in our air many studies have reported that the air inside our homes is far dirtier than the air outside shocking isn’t it professor tom cox why has been studying indoor air quality for more than 30 years and he’s going to tell me what’s in every breath i take so professor tell me what would be some of the most common contaminants we find in the air i think we broadly can classify as three different categories the first is what we call the physical contaminants so these are principally dust the second category i think that much more pervasive it is gaseous it flows all around the place and we basically briefed it in and the third are things which are basically living organisms what we call the biological category and from these three categories where did they come from uh let’s take das for example the physical ones i’m sure that this is a very common household vacuum cleaner yeah one of the things that we must understand is that when it sucks in the dust you can see the filter inside over here the filter does not remove everything and this means sucking must come out and unfortunately the finer does basically follow the airstream out the final ones actually become airborne and this final one’s actually much more damaging because they’re small they remain airborne and they actually go much deeper in their lungs the other part that i’m going to mention may scare you a little bit okay when it is actually being sucked through this it actually churns that grinding so the bigger particles become smaller particles imagine your cockroach egg and the very thing that you actually don’t want this can ground and then maybe become very small particles they get born so when we vacuum our homes we remove the dust that is visible to the eye but inadvertently release finer pollutants which are invisible back into the air to avoid this proftam recommends using a vacuum cleaner with a water filter the water will prevent finer pollutants from being released back into the air what else contributes to pollutants in the air gaseous pollutants are one of the most important exposures that we must guard against thick cooking for example firstly there are two types of cooking one uses gas or town gas which is still quite common but you think the source of the heat is really because of the combustion of the town gas okay and that combustion will produce by-products and we are inhaling them not all of which are actually good for the body are there any other areas that would be of concern in our home i think there’s one one last category
that i mentioned which is the biologicals there are things which are very minor in nature the bacteria in particular most so if you smell something musky is actually an indication that it is mold infested and some of this mold they produce chemicals which are toxic to the body so it seems that the air in our homes is a hot bit of dangerous contaminants small debris such as dust harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and spores from mold they can enter our lungs leading to respiratory problems and chronic conditions such as heart disease and these days air purifiers don’t just come with heater filters they come with ionizers with uv light with ozone generators and they claim to kill microorganisms and remove harmful chemicals all of which can cost a hundred to over a thousand singapore dollars the bigger the coverage area the higher the cost so which one do i choose for my home [Music] only one way to find out i’m putting this machine to the test i’ve discovered that air purifiers with the hepa filter can help filter out the much-feared corvette 19 virus from the air but how effective is it against regular dust gas and biological pollutants such as more air purifiers now come with add-ons like ultraviolet light ozone generators and ionizers but do i really need them helping me figure this out is professor david chong he’s done extensive research on ways to improve indoor air quality in the tropics i’m meeting him today with muhammad jufri ahmad bajuri he’s been thinking of getting an air purifier for his home because his father-in-law and wife both suffer from asthma he believes an air purifier can rid his home of allergens like dust which usually triggers an attack but he’s not quite sure yet if it’s worth the investment there are so many air purifiers out in the market these days how should i go about choosing one it’s my personal opinion i would say the conventional hipaa filter okay right with activator carbon what is important is really something that is uh have been tested and proven which is the conventional hipaa filter and what we see in the back here i mean these are the dirt especially the outer frying particles that can be arrested by this hippa filter as the dirt accumulates over time the filter degrades and has to be replaced with a new one very often some of these come with not just the hipaa filter but also activated carbon activated carbon does absorb pollutants from the air in fact we use it a lot in commercial building when they have basically odour they may to some extent remove some of the chemicals but do take note our environment is very hot and humid so moisture content in the air is relatively high they will deteriorate with time i’ve heard about other you know purifiers coming with things like ozone generator ionized air or uv light do i need them in my air purifier there’s a word of caution that they may be effective but they’re also side effects for some of them you need to check with the professionals if you want to use those technologies while ultraviolet light can kill harmful microorganisms it can also hurt our eyes and skin injuring the cornea and increasing the risk of skin cancer ionizers and ozone generators on the other hand produce ozone and breathing in too much ozone can affect how our lungs function and make it more prone to infection so for a home setting all we need is essentially a basic heaper filter with activated carbon one that is suited for duffy’s bedroom costs about 500 singapore dollars only one thing left to do and that’s to test this in geoffrey’s home and to see just how effective it is in removing dust and other pollutants like bacteria and gases which could be dangerous to our health hi hi jeffrey hey hi you’re here i am here with the air purifier i’m not doofy’s only visitor today joey fung is an independent air quality inspector she runs tests to find out how much contaminants there are in the air in an enclosed space hi hi are you joey today she’s going to help me test the effectiveness of the air purifier by taking air pollutant readings in duffy’s home before and after we run the machine this is my bedroom okay so this is where you spend a lot of time and i guess you want the air to be good you know joey how do we check the air quality in this room firstly the ac has to be turned on and the door has to be closed because we need to contain the space so this is to test your temperature relative humidity
and come out outside for this is air velocity and velocity like whether it’s a breeze or not exactly whether it’s stuffy whether that’s strong okay so this is carbon monoxide this will be testing for vocs and formula height harmful gases if the results are bad we should be concerned about that one and this is also for a dust level your pm 2.5 and your pm10 so you can tell whether this is a dusty roof yes we can especially if you know you have sinuses asthmatic you know the triggers you want to know your dust level oh yeah all this dust problem next joey sets up a device that can tell how much mole and bacteria there is in the room basically we will put the agar plate inside and then it will suck the air and whatever is being transmitted onto the agar plate and then we send it back to our lab to analyze it so now we wait [Music] once the checks are complete it’s time to turn on the air purifier there we go leave it running for a while i’ll put it on auto for this experiment we will leave the air purifier running for about an hour and that should give a machine of this size enough time to purify the air in juffrey’s room joey heads back in to take the pollutant readings it will take about a week for the test results to be processed [Music] meantime i’m leaving the air purifier with juffy so that he can use it for longer to see if there is any discernible difference in the air quality of his home and we’re about to find out that he’s in for a shock i hear you’ve got the result from your test right this is alarming it’s almost four times over the limit one week ago i started my journey to find out how effective air purifiers are in removing dust and other airborne pollutants i conducted an experiment in muhammad jufi ahmad bajuri’s flat his father-in-law and wife both suffer from asthma so he’s hoping that an air purifier can help to alleviate their symptoms since we last met joffrey’s been using the air purifier regularly at home so you’ve had the air purifier for about a week now have you noticed any improvement in the air at home wow yes a lot of improvements steve yeah my family seems to be more restful and calm is it yes okay well let’s find out what the results actually tell us sure let’s go yeah let’s go [Music] hi joey joey hi nice to see you guys again yeah i hear you’ve got the results from your test right overall in general the number seems good but there are a few parameters that i want to highlight that it’s a bit concerning you see in a rate color size what is tvoc right it’s total volatile organic compounds which means chemical gases which can be commonly found in like a disinfectant perfume sprays herjan all these household products so the ideal is 1000 parts per billion this obviously has exceeded limit of a thousand ppp this is alarming it’s just almost four times over the limit is it dangerous prolonged exposure for elevator amount yes even with the air purifier turned on it’s still on the high side so you might have to take note on that what are the other things that may contribute to to this number formula is a subset of tvoc commonly found in newly ventilated spaces varnishes newly painted house newly bought furnitures that gives off the gases but in this particular case because your formula height is zero so it’s largely still on like your household products what about cleaning if you clean the floor with detergent yes all these have very little amount that contributes together there’s one more one the other one it’s total bacteria count anyway it has reduced significantly after the airport fires on that’s actually quite a significant drop i’m impressed geoffrey had switched on the air purifier in his room for just one hour and the results overall were quite positive the levels of chemical gases such as benzene dust bacteria and mole all dropped so geoffrey what do you think actually i’m quite surprised all this while i’ve been not knowing that i’m having this air pollution in my own home but since the air profile was installed in my home for the past one week i realized changes in my family for sure especially my dad once in a while he will start to sneeze yeah and that sneeze will you know become more stronger and stronger he will be we need a pump asthma but this week i mean it’s a bit quieter for me oh i can sleep with them so are you convinced you think you would like to have an air purifier running you know all the time
i’m very very convinced joey’s test proved that the air purifier really does help to clean the air but i wonder if there are alternatives out there for those of us who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an air purifier i’m going to try and find out from an international authority on indoor air professor chandrasekhar is an indoor air quality consultant who also studies heating ventilation and air conditioning systems what are the other options besides having an air purifier at home the fundamental word is ventilation and ventilation means you’ve got to let the air from outside come into the house into the rooms and that provide that kind of dilution that can take place let me talk about this unit that we are seeing here this is fan filter unit there is a fan and there’s also a filter okay and what it does is it takes the air from outside and then you have air from outside providing nice ventilation into the room so you see that the air is actually blowing into the room right and this is coming from outside and this is what ventilation is all about this fan filter unit is a motorized research prototype for removing harmful airborne particles from recirculating air and it is not yet available commercially i’m sure it costs quite a bit of money too right there is a cost to it but it requires a proper installation you cannot just pick it up from somewhere and install it yourself are there other alternatives that will allow for this same idea to work similar effect certainly we open the windows everywhere in the hub sure what we expect is air from outside through natural ventilation comes into the house now it’ll be great if we had very high wind speeds but in singapore we don’t usually experience high wind speeds as you can see not much you depend on the wind speed and the direction of the wind to let the outside air come in we can facilitate that by perhaps placing a pedestal fire and you can expect the same thing to function a little bit like the fan filter to draw the air in the idea is facilitate cross-ventilation whenever you can that’s the whole purpose of what we’re talking about here does the air conditioner or the air conditioning system provide any kind of filtration for the air
that i’m breathing there is a filter that’s attached to the air conditioning unit but that’s the basic minimum they wouldn’t be removing the fine particles professor chandra’s research also shows that when you sleep in an air-conditioned room the amount of carbon dioxide can be up to six times more than the levels outdoors lowering the relative concentration of fresh air and triggering headaches and possibly fatigue would it make sense then to therefore be in the air condition room for a few hours and then stop it switch it off that’s the right strategy just have to be mindful of the fact when you open the windows don’t open it straight away after turning the air conditioning off right for the simple reason our outside air is very hot and humid warm and humid if you like if that egg comes in the surfaces are cold there could be potentially some condensation over time and then we have other issues like mold growing and stuff like that chemicals harmful gases dirt mole and bacteria we can’t see them but they’re all in the air and in our homes they can also be created as we do things we can’t avoid like cooking and cleaning so do i need an air purifier at home well i’ve discovered that this machine can help remove the bad air so perhaps it’s time i start using mine again but i’ve also learned that it’s incredibly important to keep your home well ventilated so that every breath you take can be a fresher