A few weeks ago I wrote about various ways to find the outdoor air quality in your location but now I have my own air monitors and I just borrowed a high-end air filter and monitoring system for indoor use.
My interest in the subject arises from recent very bad air quality as a result of fires in California that not only affected outdoor conditions, but indoors as well.
As I mentioned in that recent post, there are official and unofficial air monitoring sensors around the country and many of the unofficial ones come from a company called Purple Air. To find out what’s involved in installing and monitoring these devices, I asked the company to send me both an outdoor and indoor sensor. The outdoor one (the $249 Purple Air-II) is mounted on the side of my house and the indoor ($199 Purple Air PA-I-Indoor) is sitting on a table in my home office. The outdoor model can also be used indoors, but must be hung on a wall.
Both required access to my home Wi-Fi network and, once configured, report their data to Purple Air’s servers. Purple Air then displays the data on a map which can optionally be public or private. I chose public so that my neighbors can know the results. The outdoor air at my house is likely to be the same as that of nearby homes while the indoor air quality may or may not be related to outside conditions. There are other factors that affect indoor air including off-gassing from equipment, dust, and even fine particles from laser printers. Purple Air also has a monitor with an SD-card slot that works even if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi.
When viewing data from PurpleAir.com, consider changing the setting in the box that pops up from “none” to LRAPA so that it’s consistent with reporting from the EPA’s official sensors. Also, once you’ve located your house on a map, the URL (web address) will change for that exact location so if you save it, you can quickly go back to that location.
High-end air filter
Monitoring your indoor or outdoor air is one thing, but — while you can’t change outdoor air, you can filter the air inside your house. Any good quality air filter will help but some are better than others. A HEPA filter, for example, will capture more pollutants than less expensive ones. For years I’ve been using a Dyson Pure Hot Plus Cool filter to not only clean the air in my bedroom but heat it in the winter and apply its fan during hot weather. Some models are Wi-Fi equipped so you can monitor and control them via an app or via Alexa or Google Voice. The filter I have also has sensors that report the air quality, temperature and humidity in the room as well as outdoor air quality and temperature from internet sources. Dyson filters aren’t cheap. The one I have costs $550 at Costco though I got it on sale for less.
This week, Molekule loaned me its new Air Pro air purifier and sensor. This device, which costs $1,199 (currently available for $999) is advertised as a “professional grade air purifier for your home or business.” In an interview, CEO Jaya Rao told me that the device has very advanced technology (called PECO) that “is capable of not just filtering the air but also destroying at the microscopic level the pollutants in the air including mold and bacteria.” I don’t have the lab equipment to test that assertion but I can say that the air quality in the room where I am using it went from moderate to good, based on the report from the Purple Air sensor in that room.
The Molekule is said to able to detect and filter out or destroy PM10 (coarse particles), PM 2.5 (fine) and PM1 (microfine). The device, which is so elegantly designed that it looks like it could have come from Apple, has a color display and control panel that reports pollutant levels and comes with an app that lets you remotely monitor room pollutants and control the device.