With fewer cars on the streets, airplane-free skies, and heavy industry on hold, there was no doubt how much cleaner the air was during the lockdown.
Now the ills of air pollution are back in the spotlight.
Scientists warn that the air we breathe can be filled with toxic gases like nitrogen oxides (from diesel fumes) and microscopic particles (from gas boilers, paints, and air fresheners), pollen, and mold spores, which damage the lungs and even air can enter the bloodstream, causing health problems.
Louise Atkinson tried different methods to purify the air around her so you don't have to, but what did she do with the four different methods? Image: warehouse
With Covid on the forefront, air pollution is a potential problem for everyone, not just people with asthma or breathing problems.
So what can we do to make sure that the air we breathe is as clean as possible? We're testing some high-tech devices that promise to purify the air around you …
Airbubbl filters (£ 249.99, airbubbl.com)
Expectations: Filters 95 percent of the viruses (including Covid) and "contaminated particles" in the air, and floods your vehicle with more than 30,000 liters of clean air every hour.
It is increasingly used in taxis, in the cab of buses and in some ambulance vehicles, but is available to every car user.
First up was the Airbubble filter (Image: £ 249.99, airbubbl.com) which filters 95 percent of viruses in the air, including coronaviruses that could be swirling around your car
How it works: A cylindrical black box is strapped to the headrest of the passenger seat and plugged into the cigarette lighter.
A fan sucks air into the device, where it is passed through “nano-carbon filters”. These remove microscopic particles that could float in the air after coughing, talking or breathing, as well as toxic particles from diesel fumes and other gases that enter the car via the air intake units. Clean air is then pumped out at each end.
JUDGMENT: It is extremely easy to use (just "plug and play") and hums softly when switched on. Science is convincing and reassuring that it can filter out coronavirus particles. The investment is worth it if you spend a lot of time driving through heavily polluted city centers. 5/5
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool cleaner (£ 549, dyson.co.uk)
Expectations: Regulates temperature and removes allergens and toxic fumes.
The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool cleaner (£ 549, dyson.co.uk) is designed to remove allergens and toxic fumes from the air that are trapped in the filter
How it works: Sensors detect pollutants detected by the filter (a display records pollutant levels) and clean air (hot or cold) is pumped out. The base swings to project air around a room. It can be controlled via an app.
JUDGMENT: While this is expensive and bulky, it works as both a cooler and a heater. It's easy to use and quieter than most air purifiers, and even has a night mode button. Filters cost £ 30 and should be replaced every year. 5/5
PlantBox (from £ 60 for three, growrevolution.com) plus plants (around £ 5 each) from garden centers
Expectations: Plants have been shown to filter out microscopic toxins in the air. NASA studies of indoor pollution show that certain species – including ivy, peace lily, and mother-in-law – can purify the air more effectively than many air purifiers.
You can create your own plant wall with this modular shelf made from recycled plastic.
Indoor pollution studies show that certain types of plants – including ivy, peace lily, and mother-in-law – can purify the air more effectively than many air purifiers. PlantBox (from £ 60 for three, growrevolution.com) plus plants (around £ 5 each) from garden centers
How it works: Plants purify the air through photosynthesis and absorb water, light, carbon dioxide, toxic gases, and "volatile organic compounds" in the air to make sugar. They create clean oxygen as a by-product.
The NASA study says you would need one plant in a 100 square foot room and 15 to 18 plants for a 1,800 square foot house (a medium-sized three bedroom house).
JUDGMENT: I have collected air filter plants in my house, but suppose I need a virtual jungle of plants to see measurable improvement in air quality. A “plant wall” means that I can pack 15 to 18 plants into one room without dramatically rearranging the furniture.
I liked the PlantBox, which looks like a bookcase made of black plastic tubs, each with a self-watering reservoir.
By stacking two "units" I can create a plant wall out of air purifiers. It looks fabulous and requires minimal attention. 5/5
BreezoMeter (picture) and AirVisual (available free of charge in the App Store)
Expectations: These apps allow you to plan your outdoor activities wisely to avoid exposure to poor air quality.
This helpful app will help you monitor air pollution in places you want to visit and suggest the best times to get there when the pollution is less of a threat. BreezoMeter (picture) and AirVisual (available free of charge in the App Store)
How they work: They collect data on pollution and pollen levels from government monitoring stations as well as weather and traffic data around the world to show you where you are or where you are going in real time.
The apps will also send you an alert when you are in a heavily polluted area and let you find out if you have been exposed to excessive pollution in the past 24 hours.
JUDGMENT: A good idea if you have asthma, hay fever, or lung problems. It is very comforting to see that the air quality in my Oxfordshire home is as "excellent" as I would expect. 4/5
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