Air Cleaners and Secondhand Smoke

Posted on 9 October 2019

What is Secondhand Smoke?
Most people today recognize the many adverse effects that smoking tobacco can have on their health. However, the potential risks of exposure to secondhand smoke are less commonly known.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke that is emitted by a lit cigarette or cigar, as well as the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker. While the smoke that comes directly from burning tobacco is more unhealthy than exhaled smoke, both contain known cancer-causing substances, and are therefore threaten the health of anyone who breathes it.

Cigarette smoke contains thousands of different chemical compounds, hundreds of which are known to have adverse effects on human health. From minor lung irritation and allergies to more serious life-threatening conditions like heart disease and cancer, secondhand smoke has the power to take the lives of people who have never smoked a single cigarette.

How Air Purifiers Reduce Secondhand Smoke
An air purifier works by drawing in air, passing it through a series of filters that work to trap particles and chemical pollutants, and then releasing clean air back into the room. Most people are aware of how an air purifier helps to remove pollen, mold, and dust to increase air quality, but an air purifier can also work to remove secondhand smoke.

Air purifiers work like magic on removing the offensive odors that smoking leaves behind, but they also effectively capture many of the toxic chemicals contained in secondhand smoke. They achieve this in two major ways.

The first way is by utilizing a HEPA filter. Originally designed to protect scientists working on the Manhattan Project, a HEPA filter can remove a wide range of particles from the air. True HEPA filters effectively remove 99.97 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns, the most difficult size for moat air purifiers to remove.

Cigarette smoke is made up of particles ranging in size from 4 microns to as tiny as .01 microns, most of which can be trapped in the fibers of a HEPA filter.  As it is burned and exhaled, tobacco smoke quickly thins and the particles reduce in size, becoming more difficult for even a quality filter to capture. The best way to remove the odors and impurities in secondhand smoke is to run an air purifier while someone is smoking rather than waiting until they are finished.

Air purifiers also combat secondhand smoke by employing an active carbon filter. Activated carbon is produced by exposing a source of carbon to extreme heat, causing it to become more porous and increasing its surface area. One tiny piece of activated carbon has so many pores that the surface area may be larger than a regulation football field. The porous surface of activated carbon works to absorb odors and chemicals as air passes through it.

Why You Should Choose Austin Air
The best way to protect your health from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke is to avoid exposure altogether. However, that may not always be a viable option. When secondhand smoke can’t be avoided, an air purifier is an effective way to improve air quality, reduce toxic chemicals in the air, and help protect you and your family from the ill effects of secondhand smoke.

Each Austin Air purifier contains both a true HEPA filter and an activated carbon to remove the odors and chemicals emitted in cigarette smoke.  Austin Air’s standard size models contain 5.6 m² of true medical-grade HEPA filtration medium as well as 6.8 kg of activated carbon. The junior size models are slightly smaller, but still contain 2.8 m² of HEPA filtration medium and 2.95 kg of activated carbon.

The Austin Air HealthMate Plus model line, which includes 450 Standard, is recommended for those who are particularly interested in removing secondhand smoke from the air they breathe.  The models in this line are the most effective at removing cigarette smoke, odor, and airborne chemicals, including benzene, a particularly harmful chemical found in cigarette smoke that has a direct link to cancer.

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