Clean Tech

The business of clean air

V Rishi Kumar | Updated on January 19, 2018


For that fresh breath, air purifiers are spreading quickly into the Indian market, writes V Rishi Kumar

In October last year, when Philips rolled out its new campaign for air purifiers highlighting the malady of indoor air pollution –- “Keep the air in your home free from dust, bacteria and viruses...Every breath matters,” it went viral. Soon many other companies joined the fray and today the consumer is spoilt for choice. But does the range of products available in the market deliver on their hard-sell?

This is a question that keeps Dr Vyakaranam Nageshwar, a Hyderabad-based allergy specialist, busy these days. As president of the Integrated Allergy Standards of India, a non-profit scientific body, he screens many utility products in the market and is engaged in charting standards so that people become aware of product features and choose the best option available. Many queries directed at Dr Nageshwar relate to several brands of air purifiers in the market.

The doctor is of the firm view that no contraption can match good clean natural air although he admits it does help in certain environments. Says he: “While there is no doubt that air purifiers are useful at homes for asthmatics and other people; in hospitals for patients with certain infectious diseases; and at offices and in cars, there is no direct substitute to natural air and ultra-violet rays from the sun. So be it at home or in a car, one must allow fresh air and natural light to pass through to refresh the air.”

The right product

As options abound in the marketplace, the first step is to identify the air purifier that matches the size of the room where you intend to install it. The second important criterion is after sales maintenance offered by the manufacturer, since it is important to change filters in any purifier, though the frequency of this exercise varies from place to place.

It may have to be changed every six months or only replaced annually. But unless this is done, the purifier becomes inefficient.

Dr Nageshwar is quick to add that one must avoid using air purifiers in environments where people with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and H1N1 flu virus are accommodated. And in the case of asthmatics, these devices must only be used after consulting an expert. Randomly picking up an air purifier from the market is not advisable.

Air purifiers in their early form evolved from the air purification technology used in aircraft to discharge polluted air to freshen the interior during flight. A very rudimentary version of the device was introduced in India about 20 years ago.

Today, it has been redesigned and upgraded to handle dust, allergens, microbes, odour and employs the HEPA or high-efficiency particulate arrestance air filters. With e-commerce sites also offering air purifiers, there is enough choice to confuse a buyer. A number of major brands are offering products ranging from about ₹8,000 to ₹80,000 depending upon the size of the room. In addition, Eureka Forbes has an Aeroguard glow, a special bulb priced at ₹1,400 useful to purify a small area. But there are products for commercial usage which go up to ₹80,000 to ₹1 lakh per unit. Lately, small offices, clinics and commercial establishments are seeking air purification solutions. Shashank Sinha, Marketing Head for Eureka Forbes, says, “The quality air we breathe is vital for our well-being. Awareness of indoor pollution is very low and given the increasing pollution levels in the country, air purifiers set up with right specifications can help address polluted air efficiently, thereby ensuring quality health.”

No standards yet

According to him, currently there are no standards for air purifiers in the country. Most companies source them from Chinese manufacturers and sell them in the country.

“I am sure it won’t be long before Bureau of Indian Standards, a national body for product quality certification comes out with some standardised norms,” says Sinha.

Rahul Goel, President, Livpure which also has its product in the market, says “Indoor air is over 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.

With people spending more than 12 hours on an average within the confines of a home, it becomes necessary to ensure cleaner and pure air.” These and other manufactures have also introduced Wi-Fi enabled air purifiers.

Since these devices take about 30 to 60 minutes to clean up the air, one can switch them on using a mobile phone through remote control an hour before reaching home.

In the US, Europe and China, the market has grown in recent times. In India it is still in a nascent stage worth ₹100 crore. However, at the rapid pace it is showing growth it is expected to touch ₹500 crore in the next two years.

Clean air, thanks to pollution, is becoming big business.

Published on January 19, 2016

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