The use of tobacco products in the home makes achieving the highest quality indoor air very challenging. The best home air purifiers that utilize HEPA filters and activated carbon technologies are proven to combat the pollution of a smoker’s indoor air, but totally eliminating all smoke particles is difficult if the air is continually exposed to tobacco smoke. However, by taking a holistic approach to your indoor air quality and using appropriate filters, keeping indoor air clean is possible.
How to choose the best air purifiers for removing tobacco smoke
Did you know that second hand tobacco smoke contains over 250 harmful chemicals? Some air purifiers are specially designed to remove much much more of these harmful chemicals than others. This is an area we have a real expertise in and one which confuses some people more than most. Read on for our advice on coping with tobacco smoke in the home.
What size are tobacco smoke particles?
The most common size range of particles in tobacco smoke ( and incidentally marijuana smoke too ) is 0.3 to 0.5 microns, however a high number of the most harmful particles are as small as 0.1 micron. To put that into perspective, you could fit around 1000 single microns onto the head of a common pin.
Can an air purifier actually filter out particles that small?
This is a key question! In short, some can, many cannot. This is where choosing the correct air purifier becomes most critical. The most effective type of air purifier to use to remove tobacco smoke is called a ‘Hepa’ air purifier ( Hepa stands for High Efficient Particulate Arrestor).The grey area however is that there are different ‘grades’ of Hepa filter, and not all of these have the ability to take out the finer, most hazardous particles above. You can walk into most High Street stores these days, such as John Lewis or Argos, and purchase what appears to be a very impressive ‘Hepa’ air purifier. Some of these are fairly inexpensive, others can cost hundreds of pounds. However, a close look at the fine print (specification) almost always confirms that the Hepa filter inside the air purifier is only effective at removing particles down to 0.3 microns, and is therefore incapable of removing vast amounts of the most harmful airborne pollutants which are smaller than 0.3 microns. The most effective hepa air purifiers for tobacco smoke removal will contain Hepa filters capable of removing particles right down to 0.1microns. That is not to say that basic hepa air purifiers with 0.3 micron filters do not have a role to play, they can still be very effective for removing the larger less harmful pollutants like pet dander , plant spores and pollens.
So, any air purifier with a proper Hepa filter will remove tobacco smoke?
Not quite. The filter is only one third of the solution, getting all that smokey air actually in to the filter is another third and removing the actual smell of the smoke is the final third! If you think about it, no matter how good the Hepa filter is, if the fan that sucks the smoky air into that filter is too weak to draw all the air in the room towards it quickly enough, then the filter is almost irrelevant. So, ideally the correct combination is a good Hepa filter ( filtering particles down to 0.1 microns ), coupled with a fan motor which is powerful enough to actually suck all that smoky air into it as fast as possible ( ideally around 5 times every hour in your specific room size). And finally, the last part of the jigsaw is removing the actual smell of the smoke.
Target The Source
Although fairly obvious to most, the best method to keep your home’s indoor air healthy and safe is by eliminating indoor smoking. However, that is often not a possible solution, especially if you are not the smoker. For families with a smoker in the home, smoking is a real danger, especially to those with compromised immune systems, like allergy and asthma sufferers, infants, and the elderly. Scientific research shows that tobacco smoke, and inhaling secondhand smoke, is hazardous to your health.
Consider The Risks
When smoke is present inside the residence, where the air is 2-5x more polluted than outdoors, the health risks are arguably greater. Even if just one smoker uses tobacco products inside your home, the whole residence, including guests, suffer the harmful effects. By smoking cigars and cigarettes outdoors instead of indoors, the source of smoke particles is removed from within your home.
Allergies Are Made Worse
Allergy or asthma sufferers who live with an indoor smoker may frequently experience sinus problems and allergy attacks. It is common for smoke particles and chemicals in the air to cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions. To keep your home’s indoor air safe, especially for asthma and allergy sufferers, encourage cigar smokers to use tobacco products outdoors or in a designated room. Cigar smoke particles are denser than those found in cigarette smoke, so it is important that cigar smokers avoid contaminating the indoor air with harmful smoke. Cigars emit significant pollution, odor, and smoke particles. With the isolation of the smoker and the source of the dangerous smoke particles, a home air purifier for smoke will more effectively remove any remaining particles, odors, or chemicals in the indoor air.
Not Just Ash & Soot
Indoor air pollution caused by the use of cigars or cigarettes is difficult to get rid of entirely due to the behaviors of the smoke particles once they are airborne. When smoke is released into the home, an extraordinary amount of toxins and contaminants stick to walls, furniture, and many other household objects. The toxins may also adhere to a carpet, bedding, and even light bulbs.
Cheaper Air Purifiers Won’t Keep Up
Once the contaminants from the smoke have attached to objects in the room, they start to off-gas toxins. The off-gassing of the pollutants is a constant exercise, and since the smoker is likely to contribute more cigar or cigarette toxins, an air purifier has a great challenge in reducing smoke cleaning the indoor air. While neither air purifiers nor HVAC filters can intake contaminants that have adhered to household objects, a quality air purifier inside a smoker’s home will work to keep up with new smoke particles. Because smoke toxins are regularly released into the air, we recommend that the air purifier run throughout the entire day to reduce smoke and continually clean your home’s air.
An Alternative Way To Smoke Indoors
Another approach is to set up an isolated “smoking room” that is equipped with an outside vented exhaust fan. You can block off any cold air returns and turn the fan on when smoking a cigarette. Once a smoking routine or personal smoking room has been established, an air purifier may be brought in to help clean the air inside your home. Since the smoke is isolated in this scenario, air purifiers will be much more effective at removing any residual smoke particles. By filtering the contaminated air, everyone – including asthma and allergy sufferers – can breathe easier.
A High Performance Air Purifier
The Austin Air Allergy Machine contains a military carbon cloth and a combination of contaminant removers, making it one of the best air purifiers for smoke. Alen air purifiers offer an optional specially-engineered HEPA-FreshPlus filter that contains patented media to absorb odors and chemicals from the air. The AllerAir 5000 DS is the best recommended cigarette smoke air purifier, specifically designed to remove the chemicals in the air that are produced by tobacco smoke.