By now most of us are aware that smoking is dangerous for our health. But what’s equally dangerous is being exposed to secondhand smoke.
There are not just one but two sources of secondhand smoke: the smoke that comes directly off of the cigar or cigarette, and the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker. While the smoke that comes from the burning tobacco is more dangerous, both sources contain dangerous carcinogens that can negatively impact the health of anyone who inhales them.
The Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Your Health
Did you know that the smoke from burning tobacco contains thousands of chemicals and hundreds of those chemicals have been found to be dangerous to human health? Health experts believe that chronic contact with secondhand smoke can cause some serious health problems, particularly among children and seniors.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is known to cause everything from lung and eye irritation to asthma, heart disease and even cancer. You don’t have to be a smoker yourself to experience serious and permanent damage from tobacco use.
The Lingering Smell of Secondhand Smoke
Beyond the health dangers of secondhand smoke, there’s also the fact that it, well, stinks. Chemicals such as tar and resin are what create that lingering smoke you see and smell in the air. This smoke can then stick to every surface of your home including walls, ceilings, floors, drapery, furniture and more. Essentially, anything with a porous surface will attract this lingering smoke, causing your entire house to smell not-so-fresh.
It’s not as easy as opening a window to remove this smoke smell, either. Secondhand smoke can linger for days, months and even years, depending on how often and how much the people in your home have smoked. And, beyond the smell, if secondhand smoke is allowed to linger in the air, it eventually produces a yellowish-brown sticky material that discolors your drapes, furniture and walls.
How Does an Air Purifier Help with Secondhand Smoke?
The primary function of an air purifier is to clean the air in a single room or entire house. Special filters are used to remove both particulate pollutants and gaseous pollutants. The cleaned air is then released back into the home’s environment, and this cycle continues.
You may already know that air purifiers are often used to remove certain allergens from the air such as mold spores, pollens, pet dander and dust mites, but many will also remove that lingering secondhand smoke. And the best news is, not only will your house smell fresher, but an air purifier will ensure you and your family don’t inhale those dangerous chemicals we mentioned.
What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Secondhand Smoke
Can an air purifier remove the secondhand smoke from your home? The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is, “Yes, provided you purchase the right one.” Here are some things to look for in a unit:
The Right Filtrations Systems
Some air purifiers come with HEPA filtration systems, some come with activated carbon filtration systems, and some come with both systems. You want to purchase a unit that comes with both systems. The truth is, after tobacco has been burned, it creates both particulate matter and gaseous matter.
HEPA filters are great at removing microscopic particles from the air. How tiny are we talking about? True HEPA filters can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. To get an idea of how small that is, consider that a typical human hair is between 50 and 75 microns in size. The particulate matter in cigarette smoke is between 4 and .01 microns, so an air purifier will remove a majority of it.
The other pollutant matter in smoke are those dangerous gaseous chemicals. As good as a HEPA filter is at removing particulate matter, it simply cannot trap gaseous matter. For that you need an activated carbon filter.
Activated carbon filters a created by exposing a piece of carbon fiber to extremely high heat. This heat “activates” the carbon, causing it to become extremely porous. A small piece of activated carbon can have the internal surface area of a football field. This allows it to trap odor-causing gases.
Select the Right Size
The next most important thing is to consider is purchasing the right size unit for your needs. While there are whole-house units available, these can be quite pricey and are required to be installed by professional HVAC professionals, which adds even more cost.
Our customers have found that purchasing one or two units and placing them in the most used rooms, or in this case, the rooms where people smoke, works great and costs less. But it’s important that you get the right size unit.
Much like how an air conditioner can only cool and dehumidify a certain-sized room, air purifiers are built with specific specs in mind. You’ll want to measure your room(s) to get the square footage of each, then look for units that can accommodate that size.
Affordable Replacement Filters
Your air purifier is only efficient if you keep your filters clean. Remember, your filters will be trapping a lot of “stuff” inside. After a certain period of time, your filters will become so filthy with this stuff, that they won’t be able to trap any more.
You’ll want to choose a unit that uses filters that don’t cost an arm or a leg to replace. Also, follow to manufacturer’s guidelines on how often to replace them. If you have heavy smokers in your home, you may have to replace your filters more frequently.
Also, a word of caution: you may be tempted to purchase units that come with washable filter plates, but these have shown to be not as efficient or effective.
Look for a Warranty
Even the best-built units can have defects, so it’s important to look for one that comes with a good warranty – typically a 3 to 5-year warranty.
No one should live with secondhand smoke. If you or your loved one are adamant about smoking inside your home, then we encourage you to begin using an air purifier to make your home’s air healthier.