Air and Water, needless to say are basic conditions for life and existence. Water pollution and its effects have been the subject of scientific research for quite some time for a significant reduction in waste disposal in water bodies and technologies for ensuring purified water for human consumption. However, air pollution and its negative impact on health have only recently bought air hygiene into focus.
Pure, clean air can be defined as natural atmosphere minus any particulate matter and detrimental gases. Air is a mixture of gases and other matter in varying composition which includes oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapour, soil, sand, smoke, coal, dust, fly ash particles, oil mist, gases, fumes, odors, paint, pollen, tobacco smoke and bacteria among many others. The sheer number of particulate matter present in air makes it the single biggest constituent both in terms of number and weight. Even in areas with professionally clean air, the number of particulate matter can be as high as 2 to 3 million particles per cubic ft, while in industrial areas it is known to even exceed 30 million particles per cubic ft. Particulate matter generally consists of dust, smoke, soil, sand, coal, fly ash bacteria, industrial debris and pollen. Gaseous pollutants in air are not as visible, but have a more damaging effect on health and environment. Removing them is also more difficult and cumbersome as it is hard to locate the source for successful control and elimination. Hydrocarbons, peroxides and oxides of nitrogen are some of the polluting gases often found in air, especially in industrial areas.
Advancements in medical science has led to availability of any number of medicines for treating viral infections and allergies. However prevention is only possible by ensuring clean air through elimination of organisms causing airborne diseases. Removing contaminants from air supply systems in buildings has positive impact both on health and economic well being, enough to justify the additional cost of operating and maintaining an air filter system. Some of the advantages are listed below
Strainer type filters and water sprays, which are neither very costly nor cumbersome to install and operate can work to reduce a good majority of the weightier particulate matter from the air, but the smaller particulate matter and the rest of the pollutants continue to remain.
Electronic air cleaners or Absolute air filters have the capability to provide high quality air filtration and air hygiene removing both big and small particulate matter as well as bacteria but they are expensive and need maintenance. Electronic air filters work by using a high voltage charge and capturing the dust particles and removing them on electrically charged plates . They are widely used in commercial and residential establishments. Absolute air filters are more widely used in industrial establishments.
Air hygiene, if not paid sufficient attention to, can have far reaching public health and environmental problems ranging from global warming, acid rain, and the deterioration of the ozone layer being a few of them. As they say, better safe than sorry.