As the Covid-19 pandemic raged, news reports show that sales of electronic air cleaners have surged due to concerns about airborne disease transmission.
As the Covid-19 pandemic raged, news reports show that sales of electronic air cleaners have surged due to concerns about airborne disease transmission. But a research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that the benefits to indoor air quality of one type of purifying system can be offset by the generation of other pollutants that are harmful to health.
Led by Associate Professor Nga Lee “Sally” Ng in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the team evaluated the effect of a hydroxyl radical generator in an office setting. Hydroxyl radicals react with odors and pollutants, decomposing them, and hydroxyl radical generators have been marketed to inactivate pathogens such as coronaviruses.
However, Ng’s study found that in the process of cleaning the air, the hydroxyl radicals generated by the device reacted with volatile organic compounds present in the indoor space. This led to chemical reactions that quickly formed organic acids and secondary organic aerosols that can cause health problems. Secondary organic aerosols is a major component of PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5 mm), and exposure to PM2.5 has been associated with cardiopulmonary diseases and millions of deaths per year.
Read more at: Georgia Institute of Technology