Atmospheric pollution is a hot topic right now, but did you know that indoor air quality is often two to five times worse than what’s outside? If not, you’ll be hearing (and thinking) a lot more about this in 2020, as new air-purification technology allows us to assess the quality of the air we breathe and to take the steps necessary to improve it.
New peer-reviewed data clearly articulates that air pollution—especially ultrafine particles generated from burning substances like natural gas, wood, and incense—has the potential to harm every organ in the body. Chemicals given off by carpets, paint, and cleaning supplies can also linger in the air and cause health issues, according to the American Lung Association. “The particles of concern are the ones you can’t see,” says Jake Read, advanced design engineer at Dyson. As more new information emerges, experts predict that the global air purifier market will grow at a healthy rate of 9 to 12 percent annually between now and 2023, which would have it valued at over $33 billion in three years time.
“The particles of concern are the ones you can’t see.” —Jake Read, advanced design engineer at Dyson
The race is on to create a product that meets this rising consumer demand. Companies like Dyson and Molekule have recognized that people are willing to pay a premium—upwards of $700, in some cases—for towering air purification units that remove and destroy pollutants from the air, many of which we bring into our own homes in the form of cleaning products or aerosol beauty products like dry shampoo. Yet, with two-thirds of the population expected to live in cities by 2050 (where real estate is scarce), device manufacturers are turning their focus to innovations that take up minimal square-footage. Air purification brand Intellipure, for example, recognizes consumers’ desire to save space—its most compact model is currently a best-seller—and plans to launch more wall-mounted, vertically integrated products in 2020.
One of the most important recent changes to the air purification market is that you no longer have to spend a fortune for an air purifier to be effective. Priced between $100 and $300, highly rated products from Blueair and Coway are more affordable yet still small and stylish enough to blend into their surroundings.
Air-quality sensors that allow users to gauge the level of impurities in their homes are also becoming more accessible to the average consumer. “Previously, you would have had to spend hundreds of dollars for a single reading from an indoor air quality expert equipped with a handheld laser particle counter to measure the air quality in your home,” says Vinny Lobdell, global president of Intellipure. “Now, you can buy a sensor for less than $200 and connect it right to your smartphone to know the quality of the air in your home at all times.” The Kaiterra Laser Egg+ Chemical ($170) connects to your smartphone to measure and report on several types of air pollution, whereas the more affordable Temtop M10 Air Quality Monitor ($79) keeps it simple without smartphone connectivity—a glance at the display gives you real-time readings.
Intellipure is taking sensor tech a step further by developing a program to monitor outdoor and indoor air quality and help you understand the difference. “It may alert you that your bedroom is high in particulate matter, but the outdoor air quality is better—so, open a window,” says Lobdell. “What you’ll see is a shift away from portable units to integrated systems that are controlled by your home’s HVAC system or something like Google Nest…The fastest growing part of our business is integrated HVAC systems.”
Lobdell and Read agree that new wearable technology could even make it possible to take air-quality measurements on the go with you. For example, when you’re walking to work, your smartphone may guide you to the path with the best air quality. Dyson has already been experimenting on this front: As part of a 2019 study, the company worked with Kings College London to outfit 250 school children with backpacks equipped with air quality monitors. Armed with the knowledge of 490 million measurements, 31 percent of the children changed their daily commute to and from school in order to reduce their exposure to London’s air pollution.
This research proves that when we have the tools to understand air quality, we make better choices. Environmental circumstances may have created a need for the air purification market, but it is the educated consumer who will push it forward—and breathe a little easier at home.