A(ir)pocalypse and Our Hazy Horizon
Disclaimer: I borrowed the term airpocalypse, it’s not original. It was the title of an NPR article. Thanks NPR.
Woah nelly. I knew it was bad, having been before, but I had told myself that it wasn’t ALWAYS bad. Turns out I was undeservingly giving China the benefit of that doubt (though, I have had a number of people tell me that it’s gotten MUCH better; they are actively trying to mitigate the problem). On a clear day, you can see a few hundred meter patch of blue sky above your head; go outside of that small perimeter, though, and all you get is smoggy, hazy, polluted air.
I’ve decided that I’ll keep the kids locked inside our castle/apartment with an air purifier pumping. And when we venture out, I’ll make them wear one of these.
Thus, I’ve embarked upon a rigorous! analysis of which air purifier will best keep the lungs and brains of my children pure and clean. We already own an Austin Air Healthmate back in the US (which we didn’t ship because of voltage issues – not realizing that the same unit would cost more than triple what it does in the states). We chose this model for a number of reasons, namely, the long shelf life of the filter (manufacturer claims 5 years, though I’ve read mixed reviews – if I can get three, I’d be happy), the broad filtering capacity (bacteria/viruses, VOC’s, small particulates, miscellaneous gases, etc.), and the space coverage (up to 1500 square feet – under optimal conditions, of course). Due to the fact that this unit will literally cost us over $2000 AND the fact that the air quality really is THAT bad, I decided to do a bit more homework.
The only other contenders (worthy of discussion and easily found in Shenzhen) seem to be either IQAir or Blueair (both still imported and VERY expensive). They have varying degrees of filtration capabilities and both require filters to be changed anywhere from every 6 months to every year. IQAir can cover up to 1125 square feet and the largest area the Blueair models are rated to is 698 square feet. Both are Energy Star qualified. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty in regards to the filtering technology, I’ll leave that to the engineers of the world who have the time to research such things. THE SHORT OF IT: they are all very thoroughly and well reviewed.
None add any aesthetic value to the room (though the Austin Air models do come in 5 different colors), so with ugly as the baseline measurement, beauty can’t play a role in the decision… unfortunately (why are form AND function so difficult to execute well together?).
Based on the maintenance requirements, in addition to the area coverage, I still think that Austin Air Healthmate is the best bang for our buck. However, as my husband has pointed out, there is something to pulling out a nasty filter every 6 months and getting mentally reassured that your investment was actually worth it (we used to joke that our Austin model was like a sugar pill – we weren’t really sure how effective it really was – and perhaps only as effective as we let ourselves believe).
In the end, we somewhat impulsively purchased two Blueair purifiers (wanted to be done with it and I think the mister was tired of our conversations regularly, somehow veering back to air purifiers – how truly boring, eh?), the 303 and the 510b. The 303 for the kids room, the 510b for living space. We’ll see in 6 months how much crap they’ve sequestered from our polluted air, but as I look out at the hazy horizon, I’m content even if they are just overpriced, gigantic, sugar pills.