Installing an air purifier in your car
In the UK, the amount of time spent in our cars has increased over the years. In 2013, the UK population, on average, spent one hour per day commuting with the average trip time increasing by 16% in one decade (from 20.4 minutes in 1995/1997)1. In our cars, we are exposed to a host of pollutants ranging from fine particle pollution to allergens to VOCs. While some pollutants are filtered out by the filters in our car’s cabin, many of them are not. Consumers looking to find air purifiers for their cars are able to choose from many options on today’s air purification market, but is it worth it and which options are the most interesting? Read below to learn more about in-car air purification.
Drivers in the UK
UK drivers spend about 600 hours per year in their vehicles just on day-to-day journeys alone2. On average, the breakdown of our day-to-day journeys is as follows:
- 430 hours spent to and from schools and colleges
- 134 hours spent commuting to and from work
- 26 hours spent driving to and from the supermarket
7 hours spent driving to and from medical visits (GP surgeries, hospitals)2
One study found that the average Brit will drive 592,920 miles (954,200 kilometres) in their lifetime which equates travelling around the Earth about 24 times3! Furthermore, as mentioned above, Brits spend about 600 hours per year (or 24 days) in their cars. This adds up to about 4 years in the average British lifetime. Eight months of that time is wasted stuck in traffic and two months looking for a parking space. As seen below, Bristol Street Motors has put together an interesting graphic comparing the time Brits spend on everyday journeys with iconic driving routes around the world. The average Brit, upon completing their day-to-day journeys throughout one year, will drive the equivalent of America’s Route 66 more than 18 times2.
Another graphic breaks down average yearly journey time by region in the UK. The South West drives more hours than other region2!
As interesting as these comparisons may be, all of this puts into perspective how much time we spend in our cars on a daily basis. Of course, these numbers do not reflect any extra trips outside of our daily routines that we may take throughout the year.
Exposure to air pollutants whilst driving
Driving in our cars can expose us to a variety of air pollutants, especially when we drive with the windows down or with the ventilation system set to bring in air from outside the vehicle.
Idling at intersections leads to the most air pollution for drivers
One study was conducted at signalised traffic intersections, one of the places where air pollution is highest due to the idling of many vehicles simultaneously. The results showed that a car’s ventilation system does not protect the driver from fine particle pollution or particulate matter (PM). The study found that levels of PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 were 40%, 16%, and 17% higher, respectively, at intersections compared to other driving conditions1. Another study found that a mere 2% of our commuting time spent at intersections could account for 25% of the total commuting exposure to particle pollutants4. Both studies claim that research in these areas continues to be limited but call for urgency in performing more similar studies.
Exposure to PM is linked to adverse health effects like respiratory disease, cancers such as lung cancer, heart disease, and even an increased risk of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
Driving with friends and family
Interestingly, trips where there are passengers in the car tend to be longer (9.1 miles or 14.6 kilometres) than trips where the driver is travelling alone (7.7 miles or 12.4 kilometres)5. Furthermore, those going on a long journey (say a UK-based holiday, long weekend away or day trip) are more likely to travel with friends or family than alone. Investing in an air purifier for your car, especially one with a HEPA filter, can help protect both you and your loved ones.
How can we protect ourselves from air pollution whilst driving?
Changing your car’s air filter at regular intervals is easy and recommended usually every 15,000 to 20,000 miles (24,000 to 32,000 kilometres)5. Unfortunately, keeping the air quality inside your vehicle at a healthy levelis a bit more challenging. Just like in our indoor spaces, it’s important to circulate stale air in your vehicle. This can be done by opening your windows and allowing air from the outdoors to enter. However, if the air outdoors is polluted, we do not want to expose ourselves to more polluted air. One study recommends that when driving through areas with high pollution, particularly intersections, we should keep our windows closed and ventilation systems turned off or set to recirculate the air within the cabin4.
A couple of small things we can do to reduce the risk of more polluted air in our vehicles are:
- Hoover regularly to pick up any fallen crumbs from lunch or kids’ snacks or pet hair that may accumulate. These all can lead to mould growth or allergen build-up which both contribute to reduced cabin air quality.
- Forbid smoking in your vehicle. No cigarette smoke in your car means no first-hand, second-hand, or third-hand smoke or residue!
If your car is new and/or still has that new car smell, this is a further source of air pollution as this smell contains formaldehyde, one of the most dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde can be released for up to two years in new vehicles by the seats and other materials used to build a car’s interior. Furthermore, if you are experiencing bad odours in your vehicle, beware of air fresheners which may also release harmful VOCs (and know that fewer than 10% of the volatile ingredients in air fresheners are disclosed to the public)6.
A high-quality car air purifier with multiple, complementary technologies (like a HEPA filter for fine particles and an activated carbon filter for VOCs and bad odours) can help with all of the above.
Where to install an air purifier for your car?
There are many types of air purifiers designed for use in a vehicle, each offering different technologies and features. Before making your purchase of an air purifier for your car, be sure to check that your vehicle is compatible with the device. Eoleaf’s Pure CAR is compatible with all vehicles thanks to the simple system of two straps it uses to keep it in place. It is easy to install: it attaches right onto the back of either of your front seat’s headrests! See below for a diagram showing how the Pure CAR is installed:
This secure system guarantees that the Pure CAR poses no danger to kids or pets sitting in the back seat. Please note that all air purifiers designed for use in a vehicle may have different designs and should be mounted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Keep your vehicle’s cabin air pollutant-free with Eoleaf
The average cabin filter installed in vehicles has limited filtration technologies, typically capable of removing some odours and larger particles like dust7. You will need an air purifier to protect yourself from smaller particles like PM. Unfortunately, not just any air purifier will do the trick in removing all pollutants from your vehicle’s cabin air.
Eoleaf’s Pure CAR air purifier uses its two integrated fans to completely clean your vehicle’s cabin in just a few minutes. It uses 6 different filtration technologies to purify your vehicle’s cabin air: first, the pre-filter filters hair and particles larger than 1 μm. Next, a HEPA-certified filter focuses on all particles with a diameter greater than or equal to 0.01 μm: this includes all fine particles including PM2.5, germs, and allergens. An air purifier for your car with a HEPA filter serves as an excellent protection against fine particle pollution of all types. Eoleaf’s Pure CAR air purifiers all come equipped with HEPA filters!
Following the HEPA filter is a bacteria separation filter coated with lysozyme followed by an activated carbon filter which is effective at combatting odours and VOCs. Finally, the last filtration technology used is negative ion purification with a density of 5 million pcs/cm3, another effective measure against fine particles. The result is cabin air free of pollutants, leaving you protected against the air pollution around you on your journeys.
1 Kumar, P., & Goel, A. (2016). Concentration Dynamics of coarse and fine particulate matter at and around signalised traffic intersections. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 18(9), 1220–1235. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/EM/C6EM00215C
2 Drivers in England Spend 25 Days Per Year In Their Cars. Bristol Street Motors. (2023). Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.bristolstreet.co.uk/news/drivers-in-england-spend-25-days-per-year-in-their-cars/
3 Hull, R. (2019, November 14). The average UK driver spends almost 4 years at the wheel in a lifetime. This is Money. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-7685131/The-average-UK-driver-spends-4-YEARS-wheel-lifetime.html
4 Goel, A. & Kumar, P. (2015). Characterisation of nanoparticle emissions and exposure at traffic intersections through fast–response mobile and sequential measurements. Atmospheric Environment, 107, 374–390. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1352231015001193?via%3Dihub
5 Yurday, E. (2022, December 14). Average car journeys in the UK. NimbleFins. https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/largest-car-insurance-companies/average-car-journey-uk
6 Steinemann, A. (2017). Ten questions concerning air fresheners and indoor built environments. Building and Environment, 111, 279–284. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316304334?via%3Dihub
7 Wakefield, C. (2023, January 4). Air Purifiers for cars: Everything you need to know. Kelley Blue Book. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.kbb.com/car-advice/cabin-air-purifiers/