Do You Need An Air Purifier In Singapore Right NOW?

Singapore has been battling the haze since, well, a long time – which usually explains when there’s a spike in air purifier purchases.

But new, unlinked Covid-19 cases are now causing an increased worry regarding the virus’s mode of transmission, and whether getting an air purifier might be a good safety precaution to take in Singapore. Specifically, last month the infection cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital sent a nationwide word-of-mouth caution about the possibility of the virus being airborne. Plus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted in March 2020 that Covid-19 may be transmitted via “airborne droplets”. But how useful are air purifiers in combating the pandemic, and do you really need one in your home? Here’s how to decide for yourself, plus purchasing tips and some recommended models, if you want to invest in one.

Air purifiers: Can they prevent Covid?

When battling the haze, these devices are useful in filtering out pollutants, especially the tiny and hazardous PM2.5 particles (measuring 2.5 microns) – an air pollutant associated with vehicle emissions and the haze.

However, if an air purifier is effective in trapping PM2.5 haze particles, will it prove the same for the Covid-19 virus particles? Short answer: Maybe.

“Air cleaners and HVAC filters are designed to filter pollutants or contaminants out of the air that passes thru them,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has explained on its site. “Air cleaning and filtration can help reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses.”

That being said, the agency cautions: “By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and other public health agencies, including social distancing and mask wearing, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors.”

Having natural ventilation is also key, Associate Professor Ernest Chua from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Mechanical Engineering told The Straits Times earlier this month. He noted, “Air purifiers work with small volumes of air flow rates to reduce indoor pollutants and contaminants. Ventilation is the preferred option for spaces of different sizes, while air purifiers are effective in handling small spaces, particularly when they are unable to get enough outside air for dilution.”

The National Environment Agency (NEA) from Singapore concurs. “Members of the public do not need to buy or use air purifiers at home, but may improve ventilation via natural means such as opening doors and windows as much as possible,” a spokesman told the newspaper. (There are some places where air purifiers or air filtration systems are essential, however – where people breathe in recirculated air for sometimes hours at a time, such as on an airplane, reported Healthline in May 2021.)

The bottom line? Using an air purifiers may not be completely pointless, particularly in confined spaces with poor ventilation where the risk of transmission (of any pollutant or virus) is high. So, if you would still feel safer with an air purifier in your home for whatever reason (haze, asthma, new baby, etc.), here’s how to find a good one:

What to look for in an air purifier

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1. Pre-filter: This is available in most air purifiers. It traps larger particles like hair and is maintained by washing. 2. Activated carbon filter: This helps to trap particles like dust, chemicals and lint. It also removes odour. 3. High-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filter: These trap microscopic particles like bacteria and germs floating in the air. This is what you might want to go for when buying air purifiers in Singapore. In short, you would want one that comes with a Hepa filter. Joey Feng, a sales manager at Air and Odor Management, advised consumers to look at model specifications as a clearer indicator of how useful the machines are in getting rid of particles. Air purifiers which come with high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters, for example, can get rid of particles of 0.1 to 0.3 microns in size. They have strong filters which trap particles within fine meshes of fibreglass. Dr. Jason Phua, head and senior consultant in the division of respiratory and critical care medicine at the National University Hospital, advised the public to “consider an indoor air purifier that is fitted with a Hepa filter”.

Best air purifiers to consider buying

1. Dyson Pure Cool Cryptomic™ Air Purifier

dyson air purifier
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Price: $1,098

Available at Lazada.

2. Honeywell HPA710 Air Purifier

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Price: $669

Available at Lazada.

3. LEVOIT Core 300 True HEPA Air Purifier

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Price: $194.90

Available at Lazada.

4. Sharp Air Purifier With Mosquito Function

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Price: $549

Available at Lazada.

5. Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier Pro

xiaomi air purifier
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Price: $268

Available at Lazada.

Some text adapted from Audrey Tan of The Straits Times, 13 March 2014 / Additional reporting by Willaine G. Tan Don’t miss out! Like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram.

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