Green lungs resembling a tree surrounded by clean air and plants symbolizing the importance of healthy air quality and eco-friendly air purifiers.
March 29, 2024
 in 
Lifestyle

Breathing Clean: Exploring 3 Eco-Friendly Air Purifiers and Natural Methods to Enhance Indoor Air Quality

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ood, clean air is one of those basic necessities of human life and yet, it’s something that is increasingly neglected. It doesn’t help that we tend to think of air pollution as something that only happens outdoors when in fact, at least 4% of global deaths are related to indoor air pollution issues.

The air we breathe in our homes and offices has a huge impact on respiratory and immune health so how can we make sure it’s cleaner? And better yet, how can we do so in a way that doesn’t accidentally add to pollution and environmental woes? Those are exactly the questions we’re here to answer.

In this article, we’ll break down why indoor air quality matters so much, common pollutants to avoid, and three of our favorite eco-friendly air purifiers that can be used to clear up your air. Let’s take a deep breath and dive in …

Table of  Contents

Why is Indoor Air Quality So Important?

The EPA defines indoor air quality as

“the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants”.

The main signifier of bad air quality is the health of the humans being exposed to it – that’s also why paying attention to indoor air quality matters so much.

Bad air quality and being exposed to air pollutants while indoors can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritation in the nose and throat
  • Disease
  • The worsening of existing diseases.

These symptoms will sometimes ease as soon as people step out of areas with bad air quality but there are also long-term effects that can rear their heads years after first exposure. 

Something that adds to the problem is that most Americans spend at least 90% of their time indoors so if your indoor air quality is bad, that means that the majority of the air you’re breathing is doing your health a disservice. Many pollutants are also 2 to 5 times more concentrated indoors than they would be outside, making your level of exposure that much more risky.

Many of us have the idea that being indoors makes you safer but when it comes to air pollution, that just isn’t the case. Serious health issues can arise from bad indoor air quality, which is why, though air purifiers can seem like an annoying extra investment, they’re often worth adding to your spaces.

Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants

The actual chemicals that cause indoor air pollution are almost endless. They’re also almost impossible to spot. Instead, the best way to limit indoor air pollutants is to look at the most common sources. Each of the following has been listed by the EPA and CDC as cause for concern:

  • Gas space heaters, wood stoves, and gas ranges: These produce pollutants such as radon, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other particulates which all pose a risk to respiratory health.
  • Building materials such as particle board, plywood paneling, and fiberboard: Wooden flooring and cabinetry can contain urea-formaldehyde resins that can be especially dangerous to asthmatics. Exposure can also cause nausea and burning in the eyes and throat.
  • Remodeling activities that disturb asbestos-containing materials: When there’s cutting or sanding of millboard, asbestos shingles, etc. it can create elevated concentrations of asbestos in the air. Considering how carcinogenic this pollutant is, it’s always something to be wary of.
  • Biological agents such as animal dander, mildew, mold, dust mites, etc.: Hygiene and proper ventilation are usually the big issues with these pollutants. We tend to think of air pollution as mostly being hazardous, synthetic chemicals but improper building management can lead to overgrowth of mildew, etc. which are perfectly natural, and still very harmful to our air quality.
  • Air fresheners and products for household cleaning and maintenance: What’s so tricky is that often the things we’re using in our homes to keep things clean and smelling good are also sometimes the problem. They often contain fragrances and ingredients such as styrene (a possible carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor) which add to air pollution issues. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also present in many cleaning products and shown to be as bad for our air quality as car fumes.
  • External air pollution: Pesticides, or the burning of fuel and waste materials nearby can also affect how good your indoor air quality is. 

Some of the things listed here are intermittent causes of air pollution, such as gas burners, but what’s terrifying about the resins on our furniture or the air fresheners we use is that they may be emitting pollutants constantly. 

Natural and Simple Ways to Improve Air Quality

Besides obvious fixes like no indoor smoking and making sure to heat your home safely in the winter, here are a few other simple, natural ways to improve your air quality:

  • Check your furniture and building materials: Especially with treated wood items, it’s so important to know what has been used on them to reduce possible formaldehyde exposure.
  • Always check for asbestos before renovations: Doing a bit of DIY might seem like a fun weekend activity but if you’re in an older building, check that you’re not accidentally disturbing asbestos-containing tiles, etc.
  • Ventilate: Cross-ventilation and improved airflow are some of the most natural ways you can improve your air quality. Things like mold and mildew thrive in stagnant air so make sure to open windows and doors when you can and get things moving.
  • Look out for leaks and damp issues: Leaks and too much humidity in a home can lead to overgrowth of mold and bacteria which in turn can bring your air quality down. Before spending lots of money on air purifiers, simply fixing these issues will already set you up for cleaner air.
  • Fill Your Space with Houseplants: Some houseplants are super-powerful air purifiers. English Ivy, Barberton Daisies, Snake Plans, and spider plants are just some of nature’s best toxin removers.
  • Cut down on aerosol sprays: Aerosol propellants contain all kinds of chemicals that are hazardous to both the planet’s health and our own. Cutting back on aerosol products is one of the best ways to reduce indoor air quality pollution.
  • Clean up mold, mildew, and dust with natural products: Vinegar, bicarbonate soda, and essential oils like Tea Tree oil can provide major anti-fungal and mold-cleaning power without any nasty ingredients that might add to your air pollution woes.

Are Eco-Friendly Air Purifiers as Effective as Conventional Ones?

All air purifiers use some kind of filtration and absorption system to filter out the nastiest chemicals circling your air. Whether eco-friendly air purifiers are as effective as conventional ones is tough to say without comparing technologies directly. Overall, conventional ones tend to offer high efficacy for lower prices but as this study discusses, there are plenty of sustainable air purifiers emerging that do an excellent job of filtering out pollutants.

Another eco-friendly way to purify your indoor air would be to invest in a living wall or green building:

According to a study shared by the National Institutes of Health, buildings growing plants all along the outside walls to create a natural filtration system (also known as green buildings) have displayed "fewer respiratory symptom reports in children, and better physical and mental health".

Are Eco-Friendly Air Purifiers More Expensive?

Unfortunately, yes. This is because the technology tends to be far newer. Many also use more sustainable and better sourced materials which can again add to the price. However, many eco-friendly air purifiers are designed to last longer, need filters replaced less frequently, or even have washable filters that will save you money on long-term maintenance costs.

3 Eco-Friendly Air Purifiers

1. Briiv

This brand has won multiple design and sustainability awards for its revolutionary approach to air purification. They’ve managed to create something that not only looks beautiful in your home but uses nature’s best defenses against air pollution for your benefit.

The Briiv air filter uses 90% natural materials, 78% natural filters, and has been shown to improve the air quality in 387ft² space in just an hour. Architectural Digest gave a full Briiv filter review and noted the long-lasting filters and calming use of moss as highlights of the design.

How it Works: Briiv’s natural air purifiers use 3 main filtration layers to clean up your air. Let’s break it down:

  • Natural dried moss sits at the top to not only create a beautiful visual moment but also to filter out common allergens such as pollen and pet dander.
  • Underneath that is a coconut husk filter which traps dirt, dust, smoke, and other harmful substances from the air. Both this and the moss can be composted at home when their use ends.
  • The final piece of the natural air purification puzzle is Briiv’s unique combination nano matrix which combines activated charcoal from waste walnut husks with nanofibers to remove odors and very fine, harmful particles from the air.

What it Removes: Pet dander, dust, PM10 to PM2.5 particles.

Maintenance: The brand offers a one-year filter set that lasts 12 months. Besides changing this set out once a year, there’s little maintenance to worry about. The brand also offers replacements on specific parts if need be, so that if the system breaks, customers don’t necessarily have to replace the whole thing.

Price: $415 with a 2-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy.

Sustainability:

  • Made from mostly natural and compostable materials.
  • Briiv produces 80.57% less CO2 over the life of the device than any other purifier.
  • One tree planted for every product sold.
  • Long-lasting design.
  • Low energy use.
  • Certified B Corp.

2. One Life Air

This ultra-quiet, ultra-neat eco-friendly air purifier is perfect for anyone who needs something to work silently while they work or sleep. The product also comes with an app and smart system that allows you to track on your phone how many particles are in the air. The major claim of this air purifier is that it’s able to filter out particles 30x smaller than conventional HEPA filters.

How it Works: Built-in laser sensors in the eco-friendly air purifier work to detect air pollutants, humidity, and temperature levels. Futuristic technology like electrostatic charging and pollution magnets then catch and neutralize pollutants to create cleaner air.

Maintenance: With a completely washable filter unit that can go in the dishwasher, you don’t even need to replace the filters on this non-toxic air purifier.

What it Removes: Viruses, bacteria, mold spores, VOC, kitchen smoke, pollen, etc.

Price: $649

Sustainability:

  • Energy efficient.
  • Washable filter.
  • Features recycled plastics and solid, fast-growing bamboo.

3. Moss Air

Moss Air is a highly innovative home humidifier and air purifier that uses live, growing moss to regulate the air in a space. It’s by far the most zen, natural air purifier we’ve come across (and the prettiest). It doesn’t pack quite the same punch in terms of removing VOCs and particulates as something like the Briiv Filter, but it’s great for anyone wanting to reduce exposure to allergens and light air pollution in their homes.

How it Works: The air purifier is essentially a Frost Moss terrarium that uses a water tank and live moss to remove fine dust and carbon dioxide from the air

Maintenance: The main bit of care this device requires is filling the water tank which is then used to mist the moss. The natural air purifier also needs to be charged (it has a battery life of 8 hours). Otherwise, it sustains itself.

What it Removes: Fine dust and carbon dioxide.

Price: $109

Sustainability:

  • The moss filter lasts 5-10 years which means very little waste is created.

Crisp, Clear, Air

Whether you’re dealing with dust and pollen allergies, or worried about VOCs and other harmful chemicals in the air, an air purifier can be a great way to reduce your exposure and invest in your health. If you’re able to, consider going with an eco-friendly air purifier while you’re at it.

They tend to cost more up-front but more sustainable materials and less long-term maintenance bring their own benefits. It’s also just so exciting to see brands coming up with more natural and innovative solutions to the problem of indoor air quality. What’s the point of cleaning our air if we’re just adding to the pollution issues in other ways, right?

FAQs About Eco-Friendly Air Purifiers

How does Briiv filter work?

A Briiv Filter works by using a mix of dried moss, coconut husk, and other natural elements alongside nanofibers to filter pollutants from the air.

What is the difference between Briiv and Briiv Pro?

The difference between the Briiv and Briiv Pro is that the Pro has the added feature of AI to monitor what’s in your air to streamline the functioning of the device.

Should I wash air purifier filter?

You should only wash an air purifier filter if the product states that it’s washable. For example, the Briiv filter can’t be washed whereas those in the One Life Air purifier can be.

What plant purifies the air the most?

The plants that purify the air the most are: Snake Plants, Peace Lilies, and Aloe Vera plants. However, There’s no single plant that’s been proven to purify the air the most.

What plant removes 78% of airborne mold?

The plant that removes 78% of airborne mold is the English Ivy which does this through its roots and leaves. It should be noted however that this kind of efficacy would change depending on how many of these plants you have, how well they grow in a space, and how many external pollutants are entering your home.

What plant removes mold from the air?

English Ivy is a plant that removes mold from the air, but Palms, Snake Plants, and Peace Lilies are also good at this.

How many plants does it take to purify the air in a room?

Depending on how large a room is, it can take about 5 to 10 plants to help purify a room. No number of plants is considered an adequate replacement for proper air purifiers, however. Plants are great purifying assistants but if you’re dealing with a serious air quality problem, they’re unlikely to be enough to solve the issue alone.

What are 4 plants that remove mold and condensation from your home?

Peace Lilies, Boston Ferns, Spider Plants, and English Ivy are 4 plants that can absorb moisture and condensation through their leaves and in doing so, help remove mold.