Did you know that second hand tobacco smoke contains over 250 harmful chemicals? Some air purifiers are specially designed to remove much much more of these harmful chemicals than others. This is an area we have a real expertise in and one which confuses some people more than most. Read on for our advice on coping with tobacco smoke in the home.
What size are tobacco smoke particles?
The most common size range of particles in tobacco smoke ( and incidentally marijuana smoke too ) is 0.3 to 0.5 microns, however a high number of the most harmful particles are as small as 0.1 micron. To put that into perspective, you could fit around 1000 single microns ontothe head of a common pin.
Can an air purifier actually filter out particles that small?
This is a key question! In short, some can, many cannot. This is where choosing the correct air purifier becomes most critical. The most effective type of air purifier to use to remove tobacco smoke is called a ‘Hepa’ air purifier ( Hepa stands for High Efficient Particulate Arrestor).The grey area however is that there are different ‘grades’ of Hepa filter, and not all of these have the ability to take out the finer, most hazardous particles above. You can walk into most High Street stores these days, such as John Lewis or Argos, and purchase what appears to be a very impressive ‘Hepa’ air purifier. Some of these are fairly inexpensive, others can cost hundreds of pounds. However, a close look at the fine print (specification) almost always confirms that the Hepa filter inside the air purifier is only effective at removing particles down to 0.3 microns, and is therefore incapable of removing vast amounts of the most harmful airborne pollutants which are smaller than 0.3 microns. The most effective hepa air purifiers for tobacco smoke removal will contain Hepa filters capable of removing particles right down to 0.1microns. That is not to say that basic hepa air purifiers with 0.3 micron filters do not have a role to play, they can still be very effective for removing the larger less harmful pollutants like pet dander , plant spores and pollens.
So, any air purifier with a proper Hepa filter will remove tobacco smoke?
Not quite. The filter is only one third of the solution, getting all that smokey air actually in to the filter is another third and removing the actual smell of the smoke is the final third! If you think about it, no matter how good the Hepa filter is, if the fan that sucks the smoky air into that filter is too weak to draw all the air in the room towards it quickly enough, then the filter is almost irrelevant. So, ideally the correct combination is a good Hepa filter ( filtering particles down to 0.1 microns ), coupled with a fan motor which is powerful enough to actually suck all that smoky air into it as fast as possible ( ideally around 5 times every hour in your specific room size). And finally, the last part of the jigsaw is removing the actual smell of the smoke.
How do you remove the smell of the smoke?