Buying an air purifier for odours
Unpleasant smells can be distracting and can even create a hostile living or working environment. Oftentimes, unpleasant smells can be more than just irritating– they can be deleterious to our health if they are sourced from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), for example. This form of chemical pollution can be found in most aspects of our daily lives and can have serious health effects. Read on to learn more about odours and VOCs and how an air purifier can help.
Odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Odours, simply put, are chemical molecules (or particles) that are released into the air by a substance. Substances that are more volatile give off more molecules, leading to a stronger smell, especially indoors. Smells move freely throughout the air via diffusion, allowing them to spread1.
Common odours found indoors come from the kitchen or bathroom. In the kitchen, smells from cooking, the refrigerator, the rubbish bin, waste compactors, and sinks, and the drain can release particles into the air and become nuisances. In the bathroom, dirty laundry, moisture and potentially mould from the shower, and bodily odours can all be culprits.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also responsible for odours in the home. VOCs are gases that are released into the air typically as a result of human-made products and processes. Many VOCs are known to cause direct harm to human health by causing eye, nose, throat irritation and respiratory distress like trouble breathing or coughing. Prolonged exposure to these particles can lead to serious disease like lung and heart conditions, kidney and liver damage, and impairment to the central nervous system. Some, notably formaldehyde and benzene, are carcinogenic.
VOCs levels are often 2 to 5 times higher inside the home than they are outside, regardless of living in an urban or rural setting. Seeing that we spend 90% of our time indoors (on average), VOCs pose a significant threat to our health2.
Sources of VOCs
VOCs have a wide range of sources indoors, in both the home and the office, including:
- Paints and lacquers
- Newly purchased furnishings like rugs, fabric, or furniture
- These products can release VOCs, including formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen, for several years
- Cleaning supplies
- Cosmetics and deodorants
- Air fresheners, deodorisers, cosmetics, and candles
- Tobacco smoke
- Building materials like insulation, carpeting, wood composites, and linoleum
- Maintenance products like sealants, adhesives, coatings, and wood treatments
- Burning of wood and natural gas
- Office equipment (like computers, printers, copiers, toners, copy paper, correction fluid, craft material, and permanent markers)
- Glues and adhesives3
The level of danger posed by VOCs and similar particles present in your indoor air is determined by: 1) the specific compound, 2) the amount of the compound to which a person is exposed, 3) duration of exposure, and 4) the level of sensitivity of the individual. VOC exposure in the workplace can lead to reduced productivity – due to sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms and, according to a recent study, decreased cognitive scores4 – and increased costs. An analysis by the American Department of Human Services (DHS) found that VOCs in the workplace can cost a business almost the equivalent of its operating costs as a result of absenteeism5.
The advantages of buying an air purifier for odours
Using an air purifier to combat odours and VOCs is a decision that may lead to both short-term and long-term benefits for your health at home and at work. Naturally, removing these particles from your air can protect you from the aforementioned dangers they cause such as increased risk of disease and cancer.
Some air purifiers are able to fight unpleasant odours found in the home like those found in the kitchen or bathroom. Smells from cooking, food in the refrigerator, rubbish bins and waste compactors, sinks, dishwashers, laundry rooms, and microwaves can all be responsible for creating bad odours in the home. An air purifier, especially those equipped with activated carbon filters like Eoleaf’s devices, can help remove these smells from your and improve your quality of life.
Odour removal is equally useful in the workplace particularly if ventilation is not possible, severely improving well-being. Odours, VOCs, and other types of indoor air pollution particles build up in stale air, leading to negative health impacts. Some businesses that may benefit the most from the removal of odours are places like gyms and sports centres: an air purifier can remove the smell of sweat. For typical office buildings, the elimination of odours may remove negative associations employees have with their place of work, a factor that may have taken a severe toll on their moods and emotions. Removal of VOCs from the air may help to improve productivity and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
How to choose an air purifier to combat odours
Multiple factors must be considered before purchasing an air purifier to combat odours.
The size of your space
Do you live in a large home? A small apartment? Is your device destined for a large office space? Properly sizing your air purifier is crucial to ensure that it properly removes contaminated particles from your space. Eoleaf, for example, offers multiple sizes of air purifier: the AEROPRO 40 for spaces of up to 40 m2, the AEROPRO 100 for spaces of up to 80 m2, and the AEROPRO 150 for spaces of up to 120 m2. We also offer a device for your car!
Another important thing to consider before you make your purchase is to ensure that your air purifier has the filters needed to combat the contaminants in your air at home or in the office. If you are looking to filter out odours, a standard air purifier may not be sufficient (many standard air purifiers are not designed to filter out odours or VOCs). To fight persistent odours, make sure that your air purifier comes with an activated carbon filter and ensure that you change it once a year.
Energy consumption, budget, and noise level
Other factors like energy consumption, budget, and noise level are all equally important and should be on your checklist of things to verify before investing in an air purifier. Refer to our Buying Guide to read more about what to look for in your air purifier before making your purchase.
1 Lavelle, N. (2017, November 13). Appliance of Science: How are smells made?. Irish Examiner. https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/arid-20462718.html
2 Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, March 15). What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? . EPA. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs
3 Smith, D. (2021, May 27). VOCs in the Office: Sources and health impacts to know about. Kaiterra. https://learn.kaiterra.com/en/resources/vocs-in-the-office
4 Allen, J. G., MacNaughton, P., Satish, U., Santanam, S., Vallarino, J., & Spengler, J. D. (2016). Associations of cognitive function scores with carbon dioxide, ventilation, and volatile organic compound exposures in office workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of green and conventional office environments. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(6), 805–812. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1510037
5 Belshé, S. K. (1996, July). Volatile organic compounds. California Department of Health Services. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/EHLB/AQS/Pages/VOCs.aspx