There are a lot of confusing claims circulating about air purifiers and their capabilities. The root of this problem is a lack of testing standards, which makes it difficult to measure product efficacy evenly.
Imagine a world where every high school student could hire a private party to administer their own version of an S.A.T. And the results would be considered valid and equal. Preposterous right?
Yet this is what’s happening in the air purification industry.
There are two key issues here:
First, each company has the freedom to independently hire their own privately held testing facility where self-defined measures (and money) often determine the quality of the laboratory and therefore the results of the test.
Second and the bigger issue- the majority of these tests are being run in laboratory controlled environments. Some testing chambers are as small as shoe box while others are the size of a small room.
Other factors, such as temperature and relative humidity, can be adjusted to deliver optimal product performance, but may have little resemblance to a real-world, livable environment. While there is a place for laboratory-controlled testing, such as testing against SARS-CoV-2 or other harmful pathogens, the ever-changing dynamics of indoor air are far more complex.
Indoor air quality is a complicated science. Measuring air quality is not as simple as measuring pathogen levels in controlled environments. Other factors influencing air quality include mold, allergens, volatile organic compounds, and odors. The air we breathe is constantly changing due to the conditions (including temperature and humidity) of the room we’re in, plus the materials and the people in the room.
Lab testing can’t possibly be the most accurate measure to determine efficacy of these products when facing the dynamic circumstances that put these devices to the test in real life.
It’s time for our industry to find a standard of field testing in real world situations that give all devices a fair reading and chance to demonstrate their capabilities.