Buying an air purifier for care homes
Elderly individuals, alongside pregnant women and children, are one of the most at-risk groups in suffering the effects of air pollution. With the advancement of medical technologies and quality of life, our life expectancies are at an all-time high. In the UK alone, 23% of the population now consists of individuals over the age of 60, with approximately 418,000 people living in care homes1. Facilities like care homes often expose residents to the dangers of indoor air pollution, putting residents at even greater risk since elderly individuals spend the majority of their time indoors. Read more about indoor air pollution in care homes and how an air purifier for care homes can help.
The elderly population is vulnerable
When studies examine the effect of air pollution on the elderly, they tend to focus more on the short-term impact rather than the long-term. Those studies have found that air pollution has a disproportionate impact on elderly individuals. Exposure often leads to increased hospitalisation for respiratory tract infections (like pneumonia) and aggravation of chronic disease. Air pollution exposure also leads to premature death in people of all ages, but especially in older people and children.
Studies point to the following:
- An American study reported higher hospital admissions amongst the elderly as a result of black carbon, PM2.5, and carbon monoxide (CO)
- A study in Barcelona, Spain, found that an increase in SO2 concentrations causes increased hospitalisations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms by 9% in summer and 6% in winter for individuals over 65
- A Canadian study reported increased urgent care admissions for asthma in the elderly2
In Australia, another study found inequalities in exposure to air pollution according to age. A higher proportion of elderly people are exposed to greater concentrations of PM2.5 and NO2 compared to other populations3.
Symptoms of indoor air pollution exposure in the elderly
Due to the fact that air pollutants are suspended in the air, these chemicals typically gain access to the body via inhalation. Since elderly populations already have fragile pulmonary health, respiratory symptoms are the most commonly-caused indications of air pollution exposure.
A 2015 study performed on 600 people from 50 different care homes detailed respiratory symptoms caused by poor air quality6. Wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and asthma symptoms are all commonly reported. Air pollutant exposure, particularly NO2 and PM10, has been linked to reduced cognitive function and memory loss in the elderly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared care home residents and those who spend time there to be at high risk due to their age and/or health status6.
Sources of indoor air pollution in care homes
Several studies have focused their research on indoor air pollution levels in care homes (also referred to as nursing homes or long-term care facilities). In many places around the globe, indoor air quality (IAQ) in care homes is not regulated or monitored regularly. This leaves residents at risk of poor IAQ which, as a result, impacts our elderly populations’ health, well-being, and quality of life4.
Care home residents, and elderly people in general, spend upwards of 95% of their time indoors. This equates to about 19 to 20 hours per day compared to 16 to 17 hours per day on average for younger populations5. This is generally due to reduced mobility and puts them at a higher risk than most of exposure to indoor air pollutants. The following indoor air pollutants are most commonly found in care homes:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- This includes formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, that was reportedly found in six different studies performed on care homes throughout Europe, South Korea, and the United States
- This is due to the use of products for cleaning, disinfecting, hygiene, and healthcare
- Airborne microorganisms (fungi and bacteria)
- Many viruses, such as COVID-19, can remain in aerosols in the air for extended periods of time after someone sneezes, coughs, or talks
- Emergent compounds and PAHs
- PM10, PM2.5, and ultrafine particles (UFP)
- Multiple studies showed concentrations of PM2.5 in care homes that exceed the WHO’s recommendations for indoor air quality
- PM of all sizes was found in the highest quantities in bedrooms and in living rooms of the facilities
- Dust mites can be found in furnishings like curtains, rugs, carpets, or fabric-covered sofas
- Inorganic air pollutants
- The pollutants of this type most commonly found in care homes are carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ground-level ozone (O3), and nitrogen oxides
- Incontinence or side effects of medical treatments or infections may lead to unpleasant airborne smells that disturb other residents and staff5
The above pollutants have various sources. Indoor air pollutants often come from outdoor pollutants that enter indoor spaces through windows or doors. These pollutants then become trapped due to the airtight nature of buildings, especially newer buildings, and lack of adequate ventilation. These pollutants are also emitted by the buildings themselves (insulation, building materials, and products used for construction), leading to sick building syndrome (SBS) that can cause residents to fall ill.
Additionally, care homes can facilitate the spread of disease and infections between residents, caretakers, and visitors. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, viral transmission of COVID was common between care home residents. This was often due to exposure by non-caretaker staff and families who unknowingly carried the virus and contaminated residents. These residents then spread COVID amongst each other. Seasonal flu epidemics, bronchitis, and other viral or bacterial infections and diseases can all spread this way in a care home.
How to reduce air pollution in care homes
Ventilation is always recommended in all indoor spaces but especially care homes and similar facilities that house many residents. Unfortunately, opening windows and doors may be difficult for occupants that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and draughts of cold air entering their space. It may also pose a safety risk.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Government of Canada released a statement recommending HEPA-certified air purifiers in care homes. Devices containing HEPA filters serve as an excellent way to rid the air of air pollutants and keep residents safe from the dangers these pollutants may cause to their health8.
How does an air purifier for care homes work?
An air purifier (also known as an air steriliser or air cleaner) works by using a powerful fan to pull in polluted air, treat that air to remove its pollutants and contaminants, and recirculate the purified air back into the room.
Due to the variety of products on the market, air purifiers can offer a variety of filtration technologies. Eoleaf’s devices provide 8 different filtration technologies all within one, convenient device! Within our layers of filtration are the following technologies:
- Pre-filter – removes particles larger than one micron
- Natural bamboo fibre filter – particle filtration capabilities
- Lysozyme and silver ion coating – antibacterial and antifungal properties
- Medical-grade HEPA H13 filter – HEPA filters are the only filters guaranteed to capture 99.97% of particles down to a size of 0.01 microns (including fine and ultrafine particles)
- Note: a device containing a ‘HEPA-type’ filter, though cheaper, does not guarantee the same level of filtration as a HEPA-certified filter!
- Activated carbon filter – combats odours and VOCs released through cleaning products, construction materials, or new furniture
- Photocatalysis – binds to VOCs and other types of chemical pollution
- Ultraviolet (UVC) sterilisation – removes all airborne viruses and bacteria
- Ionisation (negative ions) – fights against smoke and fine particles
Read more about our proprietary filtration layers here.
The benefits of an air purifier for care homes
Installing an air purifier in a care home can bring countless benefits to residents, staff, and visitors alike. They can:
Reduce the risk of airborne contamination (including COVID-19)
By removing airborne viruses and bacteria, an air purifier can help avoid the spread of pathogens and infections. Some of these may include COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory viruses. It may also help reduce the incidence of respiratory allergies, eye and throat irritation, and respiratory infections like bronchitis. The areas where installing an air purifier for a care home would be the most useful may be:
- Living rooms
- Dining rooms
- Rooms used for group activities
- Break rooms
- Other communal spaces
Fight unpleasant odours
Care homes may have many sources of bad odours. An air purifier for care homes that is equipped with an activated carbon filter can help combat odours. Odours in care homes can be sourced from incontinence, food preparation and consumption areas, and/or bedrooms. This can help improve daily quality of life for both residents and caregivers. Perhaps more importantly, air purifiers can remove the smells of cleaning and sanitising products. The odour of bleach used for disinfection, for example, is strong and unpleasant. An air purifier equipped with odour-fighting capabilities can avoid accompanying discomfort.
Provide staff with better working conditions
An air purifier for care homes can provide a superior level of comfort for staff working in these facilities. These devices guarantee superior indoor air quality in a care home. This protects employees from air that may make them sick, especially whilst working with residents that are ill. Without fear of cross-contamination, care home employees can feel more confident and relaxed in their working environments. These health measures increase productivity and enhance job performance. Incidentally, studies have also shown improved productivity and job performance to be a result of combatting indoor air pollution in office environments9! Additionally, air purifiers can provide staff members who are responsible for cleaning with an added level of protection from inhaling fumes caused by cleaning and sanitation products.
Take advantage of the ‘Purified Air’ label
This label helps to promote your care home as a business that looks after its residents and employees by putting their health first. It provides a feeling of comfort to visitors who visit your establishment who would be: 1) less likely to accidentally bring pathogens into your care home that could harm their loved ones and 2) put themselves at risk of contracting illnesses in your facility. The ‘Purified Air’ label designates your care home as one with healthy and purified air.
How to choose an air purifier for care homes?
With so many devices from which to choose, it may feel overwhelming whilst sifting through your options. When choosing an air purifier for a care home, it is important to keep certain factors in mind.
The device’s performance
You want to ensure that your air cleaner will renew the air at least five times per hour. Be sure to check your device’s CADR, or Clean Air Delivery Rate, as well as making sure that it is properly sized to your space. An air purifier’s Clean Air Delivery Rate can help you determine if it will have sufficient performance for your space. Sizing is also important: if you are looking to install an air purifier in a large, communal room like a living room or a room where activities are performed, you will need a device that is sized for larger spaces (or even multiple devices). Eoleaf’s AEROPRO 150 is our professional model made to clear the air of rooms up to 120 m2 (1300 square feet). The opposite is true for smaller rooms like bedrooms: devices sized for smaller spaces up to 40 m2 (450 square feet), like Eoleaf’s AEROPRO 40, would suit your needs. These devices are all hospital-grade air purifiers and perfect for care homes.
Energy consumption and maintenance
An air steriliser device for care homes should be eco-friendly and economical, consuming minimal energy. It should also be both durable and powerful when used for a care home, designed to withstand many hours of use.
Maintenance is also an important factor to consider: all air purifiers require filters to be replaced at regular intervals, but only high-quality filters like Eoleaf’s require filters once annually. Lower-quality filters sometimes require filter changes multiple times per year.
Elderly individuals, especially those who are ill, require rest and minimal disturbance whilst living in a care home. A quiet air purifier with multiple fan settings is ideal: Eoleaf’s air purifiers offer four fan speeds to cater to your specific environment. Our devices also offer a convenient Automatic mode which detects new pollutants for you and increases and decreases fan speed as needed!
A care home requires a safe, risk-free air purifier. That means a device that cannot overheat whilst running on high speed, potentially putting many residents at risk. Also, a device that does not release any emissions like ozone that can further contaminate the air is important. Eoleaf’s devices are certified ozone-free.
Choose the correct placement
Correct placement of your device can dramatically improve your air steriliser’s ability to improve your care home’s indoor air quality. Avoid placing it against walls, in corners, and where it will be blocked by furniture or other obstacles. Ideally, it should be placed centrally in a communal room where air flow is optimal. If you choose an air purifier like Eoleaf’s that is easily transportable (it comes with wheels!), then you can move it from room to room as needed.
Do not hesitate to reach out to our team of air purification experts anytime for help in choosing the right device(s) for your care home’s needs. We also encourage you to read through our Buying Guide to learn more about all of the considerations involved in purchasing and owning an air purifier before buying your air purifier.
1 Facts & stats - older people in the UK. MHA. (2023). https://www.mha.org.uk/get-involved/policy-influencing/facts-stats/
2 Simoni M, Baldacci S, Maio S, Cerrai S, Sarno G, Viegi G. Adverse effects of outdoor pollution in the elderly. J Thorac Dis. 2015 Jan;7(1):34-45. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.12.10. PMID: 25694816; PMCID: PMC4311079.
3 Cooper, N., Green, D., & Knibbs, L. D. (2019). Inequalities in exposure to the air pollutants PM2.5 and no2 in Australia. Environmental Research Letters, 14(11), 115005. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab486a
4 Reddy M, Heidarinejad M, Stephens B, Rubinstein I. Adequate indoor air quality in nursing homes: An unmet medical need. Sci Total Environ. 2021 Apr 15;765:144273. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144273. Epub 2020 Dec 24. PMID: 33401060.
5 Mata, T.M.; Felgueiras, F.; Martins, A.A.; Monteiro, H.; Ferraz, M.P.; Oliveira, G.M.; Gabriel, M.F.; Silva, G.V. Indoor Air Quality in Elderly Centers: Pollutants Emission and Health Effects. Environments 2022, 9, 86. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3298/9/7/86
6 Bentayeb, M., Norback, D., Bednarek, M., Bernard, A., Cai, G., Cerrai, S., Eleftheriou, K. K., Gratziou, C., Holst, G. J., Lavaud, F., Nasilowski, J., Sestini, P., Sarno, G., Sigsgaard, T., Wieslander, G., Zielinski, J., Viegi, G., & Annesi-Maesano, I. (2015). Indoor air quality, ventilation and respiratory health in elderly residents living in nursing homes in Europe. European Respiratory Journal, 45(5), 1228–1238. https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/45/5/1228
7 WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Selected Pollutants. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010. Executive summary. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK138699/
8 Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada. (2021, April 12). Using Ventilation and filtration to reduce aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/guidance-documents/guide-ltch-ventilation-covid-19-pandemic.html
9 Kelly, F. J., & Fussell, J. C. (2019). Improving Indoor Air Quality, health and performance within environments where people live, travel, learn and work. Atmospheric Environment, 200, 90–109. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1352231018308410