Your furniture is making you sick, and can an air purifier help?

A clean house has been on many minds lately, as the pandemic has revived concepts such as immunity, air pollution and hygiene. It is in this context that I was confronted with two related events: one in my private life, the other in work.

My 15 month old baby developed a cold, dry cough and itchy eyes shortly after we moved. The symptoms persisted for months, which the doctor attributed to “allergens floating around in most homes”. It was hideous and put a damper on our delusional dreams of sending him to kindergarten for a few hours a day.

Almost simultaneously, I received an email regarding the neighborhood’s latest air purifier, claiming to fight a dangerous but often overlooked pollutant: formaldehyde.

An air purifier with an activated carbon filter is the only option to remove formaldehyde from indoor air

Dr Slavica Vukovic, Internal Medicine Specialist, RAK Hospital

It turns out that the chemical I had naively associated with smelly smoothing treatments is also widely used to preserve furniture. While the material can ensure that your decor doesn’t decompose, it does mean that the furniture or rug in question can constantly emit tiny doses of gas.

“Formaldehyde can cause skin, eye and throat irritation, and even neurovegetative disorders,” explains Dr Slavica Vukovic, internal medicine specialist at RAK Hospital. “By inducing alterations in brain metabolism at the cellular level, prolonged exposure could be the cause of certain types of cancer.”

The solution is simple – and singular, according to Vukovic. “An air purifier with an activated carbon filter is the only option for removing formaldehyde from indoor air,” she says.

And that’s how I acquired the Purifier Cool Formaldehyde ventilator, Dyson’s latest gadget launched in the UAE in August. While joining a long list of companies that offer anti-formaldehyde purifiers (from Airpura and Honeywell to Molekule and Philips), the British brand claims that it is the only gadget that not only uses a sensor to semiconductor (instead of the traditional gel casing that eventually dries out) but also a catalytic filter that completely destroys formaldehyde, rather than just capturing it.

“Formaldehyde is third on the WHO Top 10 Pollutants list,” says David Hill, Dyson engineer and design manager for formaldehyde building technology. “It’s a powerful preservative which, while useful for controlling bacterial growth in your furniture, is not ideal for constant living. Stabilized wood floors, for example, can emit formaldehyde for years.

“The specification was to constantly destroy formaldehyde, not just capture it and keep it in your home. The catalytic filter, made up of microscopic panels, oxidizes and breaks down molecules into minute amounts of water and carbon dioxide, which are harmless.

The technology is revolutionary, as evidenced by the premium price of 2,700 Dh ($ 735). Air purifiers with this feature range between $ 120 and $ 999.

The machine also identifies and removes other particulate matter – from dust and pollen to mold spores, as well as a cocktail of gases such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide, which enter your home from the outside. , as well as by the use of scented candles, deodorants and even the stove. All of this is relayed through a display panel, which tells you how much harmful material is in a room at any given time, and then proceeds to erase it.

The display is a nice addition. Much like with a fitness tracker – where half the fun is knowing exactly how many steps you’ve taken or how many hours of deep sleep you’ve had – there is some satisfaction in seeing the size and level of the particles. and gaseous pollution in the air around you slowly dissipates.

The Dyson team recommend that you let the machine stay in automatic mode – because it will “increase when it needs cleaning and slow down when a part is clean,” according to Hill – and I have also found it useful to transport it around. ‘one room to another. through the day.

At five hours of use in a 24 hour period, the activated carbon filter should last about a year, after which it can be replaced with Dh300. The formaldehyde killer filter, however, will never need to be replaced.

“Where you stand depends on your lifestyle,” says Hill. “If you like to cook, you will find lots of pollutants in the kitchen. If you have allergies and have trouble sleeping, keep it in the bedroom so that you don’t get hit as hard by the pollen. According to the anecdotal reviews we’ve received so far, some people have even been able to cut back on their allergy meds.

Or, as in the case of this writer, eventually enrolled in the local preschool.

Other air purifiers to invest in


Winix 5300-2

USP: captures dust mites, animal dander and pollen

Price: Dh450 from Amazon


Philips 2000i series

USP: Reduce pollutants, allergens, odors, harmful gases and some bacteria

Price: Dh 1,989 from

Do crazy things

Airpura F600DLX

USP: Eliminates formaldehyde and VOCs released by common household products, building materials and pesticides

Price: 3,670 Dh on

Updated: September 22, 2021, 04:02

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