It is wonderful but tiring and sometimes frustrating being a parent and eventually life affirming. Though with it comes responsibility and one of the primary responsibilities is obviously for the health of our children. This is both physical and mental health. Both of these aspects of health in children are affected by the particle concentration in the air new research suggests. So whether to have an air purifier for a baby or child needs consideration.
We know that air purifiers are very capable of removing particles from the air but which would be most suitable for a home with a baby, young children or just children in general?
The Oransi EJ120, Coway 300S or the iQair HealthPro Plus are the best air purifiers for babies in a nursery or young children. The Oransi and Coway are quieter than the iQair but do not purify the air quite as well. The iQair has more highly specified filters and so is guaranteed to produce the cleanest air but is noisier.
Below I go into further details about these air purifiers.
First let’s establish why you should have an air purifier ideally during pregnancy and for your baby and children-
Health Effects of Air Pollution on Children
Evidence that air pollution permeates all parts of a child’s body was seen in a study where carbon particles from air pollution were found in the urine of children. This is evidence that like the rest of us, when we breathe in particles if they’re small enough, they can get into the deepest parts of our lungs and enter our bloodstream. The kidneys are constantly filtering out particles so that they end up in the urine. In this way the level of particles in the blood does not just keep increasing as new particles enter the bloodstream from the lungs but reaches a plateau.
Fine particulate air pollution is related to delayed psychomotor development and lower child intelligence. Particulate exposure at relatively low levels has been shown to alter brain structure in children. This was shown using MRI scans from 11,000 children aged 9 and 10 from cities in the United States. Areas of the brain associated with emotion were larger whereas other areas associated with thinking skills were smaller.
Air pollution as a child seems to affect the rate of decline in cognitive function with age. In one study, those with higher pollution levels in childhood had a faster rate of cognitive decline through to the age of 70 years old.
As mentioned above in the section on cognitive ability, children who breathe air with less pollution do better in exams.
Exposure to air pollution in childhood age 1 years was linked to an impairment of thinking skills in later life aged 70. So pollution exposure in childhood carries over into the adult.
Children who live in high ozone areas and play sports outside have an increased incidence of asthma. Also children you are exposed to particulate pollution are more likely to develop wheezing and asthma.
Particulate pollution is related to an increased incidence of chest infections in children who are then more likely to miss school.
Children who live near busy roads have more asthma. If they develop as much higher the levels of pollutants means that they are more likely to develop bronchitis-inflammation of the airways.
Particulate pollution seems to be related to an increased incidence of chest infections in children who are then more likely to miss school. In addition a short term increase in PM2.5, PM10 and nitrogen dioxide levels all lead to more respiratory problems needing primary care consultations.
Conversely, cleaner air was associated with fewer respiratory symptoms in children.
This seems to be a link between air pollution and childhood obesity.
Psychiatric health is also less good in children exposed to air pollution-they tend to be more anxious. Metabolic changes were found in the brains of 12-year-olds exposed to traffic related air pollution in this correlated with anxiety. There is also an increase in emergency psychiatric presentation by children to hospital with an increase in air pollution. Teenagers living in polluted areas of the 40% increased risk of psychosis. Children from areas with high pollution were 3 to 4 times more likely to have depression at the age of 18.
Childhood air pollution is linked to poorer mental health at age 18.
Increased Aging in Children in Response to Increased Indoor Air Pollution
A study from Europe, by measuring the amount of chemical change of our DNA, investigated the effect of air pollution on genetic age in children. By measuring the number and pattern of methyl groups added to the DNA, our genetic age can be calculated. This is part of a field of science known as epigenetics. There are various forms of these clocks but one, Horvath’s Grim Age Clock can predict when we will die fairly accurately. In children who are exposed to increased particulate matter indoors or tobacco smoke their epigenetic age was found to be increased.
So we can see effects of indoor air pollution on the genetics of aging in children.
Deaths in Children
6.6% of deaths of children aged 1 to 5 years old in the United States and 13.6% in Europe have been found to be attributable to fine particulate pollution.
Health advantages of air purifiers for foetus’s, babies and children
The central problem is that ultrafine particles, when breathed in can enter the bloodstream. From here they can be found in many organs but also on the fetal side of the placenta. This means that they have entered the mother’s bloodstream and crossed the placenta.
So in choosing an air purifier for a baby you will need one that will remove ultrafine particles as well as the larger particles.
HEPA air purifiers are not enough
The most harmful airborne particles are ultrafine particles which are 100 times smaller than those specified in the HEPA filtration standard. So even a true HEPA filter may not be enough to purify your indoor air.
We Need an Air Purifier Specified to Remove Ultrafine Particles
Not all air purifiers are specified to remove ultrafine particles but here are some that are-
- Oransi EJ120
- iQair HealthPro Plus
- Coway Airmega 400S, Coway 300S Coway AP-1512 HHS
1) Oransi EJ120-main feature extremely quiet once delivering 200 ft.³ per minute or purified air
Air Flow-could purify a room of 500 sq ft the noise level of 59db may force you to switch the air purifier down to its next lower setting and limit this to 300 sq ft for you
One of its main features is the very quiet and energy efficient German manufactured motor.
The CADR (clean air delivery rate) is 333 cfm for dust. The “coverage area up to 1,250 sq ft ” claim on the website must assume 2 air changes per hour and as you can see from the EPA table below is not consistent with EPA guidelines-
Not many manufacturers make this type of claim so that they must all feel forced to follow suit. However, the EPA would only consider this air purifier suitable for a room of 500 sq ft at best. This assumes 8ft high ceilings-still a big room. As pointed out above you would have to be quite tolerant of noise to run this air purifier on its top setting. This is the same for many if not most air purifiers.
So like virtually all air purifiers, noise is a very important factor that limits the size of room that this air purifier is suitable for and to which I now turn.
For use in a baby’s room or nursery we also need to consider the effect of noise on the baby or child’s developing hearing. I am a physician not a paediatrician but feel that any air cleaner should either be whisper quiet or outside the room entirely with the air pumped in.
So a real advantage of the Oransi is that it is very quiet on one setting down from the top setting. It can produce 200 cfm of clean air and produce only 33db of noise. This is about the same level of noise as a library and a bit quieter than light rain but noisier than a whisper. Even so, for an air purifier producing this much clean air it is impressive.
The EJ HEPA filter has an expected life of 12 months and is MERV 17 standard.
It is a superb air filter as it is specified to remove 99.98% of airborne particles down to a particle size of 20nm. This makes it one of only 2 consumer air purifier filters to give specifications down into the ultrafine particle range.
This filter is medical grade and easily removes
- house dust mite
- pet dander
- allergen in general
- smoke particles
- mold spores
Activated Carbon Filter
The EJ pleated carbon filter has a life of 8-10 months and removes chemical airborne pollutant such as volatile organic compounds. The amount of carbon in this filter is not specified but is slightly less than 1 lb as the filter media is specified to weigh 1lb.
The particulate filter needs replacing every 12months and costs about $100. In addition, the carbon filter needs a replacement every 8-12 months and costs $80.
Assuming that you will have 2 air purifiers, a nursery air purifier and an air purifier in the living area then using this as your nursery air purifier for 12 hours per day.
Electricity Costs assuming 12 cents per kilowatt hour will be about $50 over a year used 12 hours per day.
So total running will be about $300 per year to run the air purifier continuously. would cost about $150 per year.
The controls consist of a simple speed setting only. This may seem to be a disadvantage but air purifiers are best controlled through a smart home system. I suggest plugging the air purifier into a smart plug and controlling them through that. They need to activate 45 minutes before the baby child will be in the room. For this air purifier I would suggest using one setting down from the top setting which is nice and quiet. Like virtually all air purifiers the top setting is too noisy for day to day use.
Sensor-none but that is a good thing. The sensors built into air purifiers are not accurate enough to rely on for your health-please see this article. You need a more accurate separate air quality meter.
Dimensions 17″ x 19″ x 10″ (W x H x D)
Weight 27 lbs
Simple and functional.
10 year warranty
In general people seem happy with this air purifier 88% of reviews on Amazon are 4 or 5 stars. The issues that are raised are-
- Controls-too simple. To me this is a good thing the air purifier is best controlled with a smart home system.
- Controls-lack of sensor. Again to me this is a good thing the sensors built into air purifiers in general are not accurate enough to stake your health on.
- Controls-difficult to use in dark eg at night in the bedroom as the screen is LCD and so does not emit light. The fan speed controls are fairly flush with the surface so difficult to use in the dark.
- Design aesthetics-an occasional person does not like the look of the machine.
- Instructions of how to use were felt to be misleading. Show the filters in relation to the machine the wrong way round for insertion into the machine.
- Cost-Many people mentioned this. To me this is a top rank machine and the price is what one would expect.
Whilst it is really useful to have these reviews none of the reviews could of course check the crucial factor which is the reduction in particle count. It is that which will influence your health and possibly aging.
So this is a quiet machine on less than its top fan speed that does an excellent job at removing airborne pollutant. Both of these make it an excellent contender for a baby air purifier. So what can our next contender offer?-
2) iQair HealthPro Plus
For removing airborne particles the iQair HealthPro Plus is the consumer air purifier with the highest specification filtration system. Its Hyper-HEPA filter is specified to remove particles larger than 3nm in diameter. So It is certified to remove ultrafine particles better than any other air purifier. The Oransi may or may not remove particles less than 20nm efficiently and there are a substantial number of ultrafine particles in this size range. I think that it probably will, but we do not know for sure.
I have written an extensive article about The iQair HealthPro Plus here. Although its air purification specification is better than the Oransi EJ120 the problem is that it is noisier and that concerns me with a baby or children whose hearing is developing. There is a ducting kit for these air purifiers which I mention in the article and so you could use this to have the air purifier outside the nursery and clean air pumped into it.
These air purifiers have a large activated carbon filter with 5lb of carbon granules in it and so are great for removing chemical air pollutants and odors from the air.
So this air purifier is a great all round performer in improving indoor air quality.
Here is a demonstration of the iQair HealthPro Plus in action-
3) Coway Air Purifiers
The Coway air purifiers the 300S and 400S are really excellent, and the new filters are specified to deal with particle sizes down to 10 nm. This is not quite as good as the IQ air HealthPro plus which will remove particles as small as 3 nm in diameter.
However the Coway 400 and Coway 300 machines are substantially quieter. Further information about be found in this article-“Best Quiet Air Purifiers“.
The Coway AP-1512 HHS is an excellent machine, but it is not as quiet as the largest Coway air purifiers or the Oransi. In addition it is not filter particles as small as the IQ air HealthPro plus. A brief review of it can be found here –”Best Air Purifier for Smoke“
Measurement of Air Quality in Your Room
Unfortunately, particles that injure health are not visible, and we cannot sense them in any way. So checking that your air purifier is lowering the particle count you really need an air quality meter. Otherwise it is all too easy to do things such as switching down the speed of the air purifier when going to sleep in the bedroom and not realizing that the particle count is far too high.
In Buying an Air Purifier for a Baby Should You Buy a Spare One?
Smoke particles are particularly damaging and during wild fires can reach very high concentrations. So especially if you live in a wildfire area I would suggest that you have a backup plan for the baby in case of an air purifier malfunction. For most people this will not mean buying 2 air purifiers for the baby as this will be too expensive and air purifiers are fairly fault free.
It may mean having at least one more air purifier than occupied bedrooms so that if one does breakdown, you can use the one you have in the daytime living space (likely to be louder) for your bedroom and swop your bedroom air purifier to the nursery.
So why not just buy another one if one breaks down? This would be fine were it not for the fact that in wildfire season the best air purifiers soon sell out.
UV light is not central to the removing of harmful particles. In fact, it is uncommon for the most expensive air cleaners to have them. This is simply because they do not remove pollutant particles. It is very important that whichever air purifier you buy it should not act as an ozone generator. This is because ozone is toxic to the lungs. So it is best to avoid ionizing air purifiers and those with UV light.
You may also need a humidifier if you have very dry air, usually occurs during the winter. An ideal relative humidity range is 30-50%.
Other Ways of Helping Your Baby Have Clean Air
- Avoid any smoking in the home. Smoking cigarettes is so good at producing fine particles that can enter the lungs it is used to test air purifiers.
- Vacuum regularly-you will be busy with a new baby so you may wish to buy a robotic vacuum cleaner if you have not already got one. Avoid letting the baby into the vacuumed room for at least and hour after vacuuming to let any dust that it has agitated into the air to settle.
Also this article contains many helpful tips on reducing airborne particles and chemicals-“How can I reduce air pollution in my home“
Conclusion-best air purifier for a baby
The health impact of airborne particles on children is becoming obvious. So it is perfectly reasonable to try to lower your child’s exposure to particles when around your home. There are only a few air purifiers on the market that specify their filters will remove ultrafine particles, which is a higher specification than a standard HEPA air purifier. Arguably the best 4 are the Oransi EJ 120, Coway 300S, Coway 400S and the iQair HealthPro Plus. So these machines are the main contenders for best nursery air purifier. Ultrafine particles as small as 4 nanometer diameter can easily get into the bloodstream and only the iQair is certified to remove these.
The IQ air is specified to remove particles as small as 3 nm. The Oransi only specifies that will remove particles that are more than 20 nm in diameter efficiently and the Coways particles down to 10nm. However, the Oransi and Coways are much quieter on one setting down from the maximum when delivering 200 ft.³ per minute are purified air than the IQ Air HealthPro Plus is.
So in choosing the best air purifier for a baby/nursery it is a trade-off of absolute specification versus noise. I am not a pediatrician but I would be concerned about the development of the child’s hearing in a noisy environment and so wish to keep the noise down to a minimum.
In this case the Oransi EJ120 or Coway 300S or 400S, depending on room size are the obvious choices, but be careful not to run any at its maximum setting. If you are going to have an air purifier in the same room as the child then it needs to be as far away from the child as possible. This is because sound intensity falls off very quickly with distance from the sound-the inverse square law.
If you can minimize the noise from the IQ air HealthPro Plus as outlined above then it would be the best choice. A possible way of doing this would be to use the adaptor tube that fits on the top of the machine and goes through a wall so that the iQair machine is actually outside the room. Please see this article. Rather than take space up in another room or corridor, the air purifier could be in an attic with the tube connected to a vent in the ceiling.
Whatever you decide to do with regards air purification for a baby or child, you should run it past your pediatrician.
Although perfect air purification might be possible for a nursery/bedroom and possibly one other room in the house where the child will spend a long time, it is not really practical for all rooms in the house.
So you should consider upgrading your HVAC filter is something that is either HEPA quality or approaching HEPA quality. I have written an article about upgrading an HVAC system here and here. As well as changing the filter you will need to have the HVAC fan on all the time that your child is not in their air purified room. It is only when the HVAC fan is blowing air through the filter that the air in the house will be purified.In this way every room in your house can have much better quality air than you currently have.
However, the most important rule of all is to buy a good air quality meter and to aim for an PM 2.5 of less than 5 ug/m3 and as close to zero as possible or a reduction in particle count of at least 80% – whichever your meter measures.