Air Purifiers and Odor Reduction: A Molekule Review
This post is sponsored by Molekule
Do you find yourself frequently opening a door or window to get rid of strong or unpleasant smells in your home? Do you often need to step outside for a breath of fresh air? Perhaps you made a delicious meal, but its scent is permeating your clothing and furniture. Or maybe you’ve just mopped your floors with a household cleaner that is now irritating your sinuses. Regardless of their origin, unwanted household odors are a common, everyday occurrence. With the help of our cleaning tips and our review of Molekule’s breakthrough air purifier technology, you’ll be on your way to breathing fresher air in your own home. Read on to learn more about the science behind odors and the cleantech that may improve the indoor air you breathe.
Understanding Odorants and VOCs
First, let’s understand where odors come from and what they are. An odorant, or scent, is any chemical compound that is volatile enough to be sensed by our olfactory system. The olfactory system is just a fancy way of saying “sense of smell.” Humans can detect thousands of scents. Most odors are made up of organic compounds that are made up of molecules. The more volatile the molecules in these compounds, the more likely your olfactory senses will pick up on a smell. Heat and humidity can make scent molecules more volatile, causing the odor to be stronger for your olfactory receptors to detect (consider a dumpster in the summer heat).
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals, some of which produce smells, that are present in all homes at one point or another. These VOCs can come from common products such as air fresheners, cleaning products, paint, carpet, cosmetics, cooking, and other sources such as building materials or upholstery. Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) can also be found in your home, typically emitted from different stages of mold and mildew growth.
According to a recent study, 98.3% of Americans are exposed to fragranced products at least once a week. This means that fragranced consumer products are a primary source of indoor air pollutants. These products include cleaning supplies, air fresheners, soaps, and several other personal care products. The study also found that 34.7% of the U.S. population reported health issues when exposed to fragranced products. Fragranced products are known to release VOCs such as limonene and formaldehyde. Exposure to fragranced products can cause adverse health effects such as respiratory troubles, trigger asthma attacks, and headaches.
The Origins of Common Household Odors
Now that you know more about how odors are formed, it’s time to take a closer look at what causes problematic smells, and where these scents are likely to lurk.
If you cook with any regularity, it’s a no-brainer that your kitchen is where you most frequently notice odors, from the appetizing (fresh-baked cookies) to the offensive (spoiled food in the fridge). Your kitchen can also be home to mold and mildew growth, particularly in or around the sink and trash can. The use of common fragranced kitchen cleaners used to disinfect your counters, floors, and appliances also releases VOCs and smells into the air.
Bedrooms / Living Room
New furnishings, mattresses, and carpeting can release VOCs such as ethylene glycol and formaldehyde. Like the paint, finishes, glue, and other substances used to manufacture a new piece of furniture settle, they release VOCs into the air through a process known as “off-gassing.” Additionally, your couches and carpets can absorb odors and smoke generated from cooking.
Bathrooms / Laundry
It’s no mystery that bathrooms are home to many odors, especially considering the amount of moisture found in them. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are particularly prone to mold and mildew growth, due to the prevalence of water in these rooms. Damp, warm, and dark conditions are perfect for MVOCs like mold and mildew to thrive. Washing machines full of damp clothing are at risk of developing mildew growth, potentially leaving your clothes smelling musty rather than fresh and clean. Furthermore, the regular use of fragranced household cleaners for toilets, tiles, and sinks means VOCs are never gone too long from your bathroom.
You might be thinking there is no way you’re exposed to so many different household smells every day. Perhaps you can only name a couple of times you’ve noticed a significant scent in your home in recent days. This could mean you’re experiencing habituation, a diminishing of your sensitivity to distinguish odors over a period of time due to constant exposure. When constantly exposed to the same scent, your brain ignores that smell and focuses instead on scents that are different from those you’re used to. It’s why you don’t notice your own body odor over time, or why you no longer smell the scent of your pets on your carpets or furniture.
Air Purification and Household Smells
There are a few ways to address unwanted odors in your home. When ventilating with open windows and doors is not enough, you might consider investing in an air purifier as a solution. However, not all air purifiers are effective at removing substances like VOCs from the air while also filtering for larger pollutants.
HEPA Air Filtering
Traditional air purification methods rely on HEPA filters that are designed to capture 99.97% of pollutants as small as 0.3 microns. HEPA filters work to trap air pollutants such as pet dander, pollen, and dust, but the VOC gasses that produce odors are 1000 times smaller than what the HEPA standard even tests for...
Carbon Air Filtering
When seeking to address VOCs in particular, many turn to carbon air filters. These filters use activated carbon that works to adsorb airborne chemicals. Adsorption allows the VOC molecules to cling to the outside of the carbon, thereby trapping the gasses on the carbon. This works as long as there is room on the carbon for adsorption to happen. Over time, the carbon becomes oversaturated and can no longer trap pollutants. Depending on how large a room and how many VOCs it needs to filter, this means the efficacy of carbon air filters can vary significantly.
Changes in temperature and humidity can also cause some trapped VOCs in the carbon to be released once more. If you notice the carbon filter is emitting an odor, it’s a sign that the filter is full and might be off-gassing. It’s best to replace the filter at this point. Unlike HEPA filters, dedicated carbon filters cannot remove particulate pollutants such as dust, pollen, or the larger particles in smoke.
Molekule’s PECO Technology vs Household Odors
Enter Molekule air purifiers and their breakthrough Photo Electrochemical Oxidation, or PECO, technology. This patented technology works by destroying a wide range of pollutants, including VOCs, rather than simply trapping or adsorbing them. Pollutants are broken down at the molecular level inside the PECO-Filter’s nano-particle coated surface. A low-energy UV-A light in the Molekule unit shines on the coated filter surface. This creates an oxidation reaction that produces free radicals that work to filter and destroy air pollutants.
Because Molekule PECO filters work at a microscopic level, they’re able to filter even gaseous organic pollutants, as well as larger particulate allergens. In fact, a nationally recognized third-party lab conducted a Molekule review of the air purifier’s PECO technology and found that it successfully reduced the concentration of these three common VOCs over the course of 24 hours: formaldehyde, toluene, and D-limonene. All three VOCs tested are known household irritants commonly found in cleaning products, paint, furniture lacquers, and more.
Molekule air purifiers make an excellent whole-home solution. The Molekule Air is designed for rooms up to 600 square feet, making them ideal for living rooms as well as kitchen and dining rooms. The Molekule Air Mini can filter the air in rooms of up to 250 square feet, making them ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Molekule air purifiers have a 360-degree air intake for the most efficient filtering. Run a Molekule on the highest fan speed while cooking to filter and destroy VOCs before they’re absorbed into your furniture and clothing, or while using fragranced cleaning products to help remove VOCs as they occur. Molekule’s innovative PECO filtering technology makes for an excellent smell reduction solution for your home, and the 20 years of science behind it backs this claim. Household scents and VOCs contribute to indoor air pollution, but you can breathe easier knowing Molekule’s PECO air purifiers will leave your home with fresher air.