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Can You Inhale Microplastics? And Can Air Purifiers Offer Any Help?

Plastic is everywhere. Nearly everything we eat and drink contains microplastics that we then ingest. And the research is clear, microplastics are damaging our bodies. 

But did you know that microplastics are also found in the air we breathe? In fact, studies show we inhale a credit card’s worth of microplastics each week. Surprisingly, that’s roughly the same amount that’s ingested. 


Microplastics and the Health Impacts of Breathing Them In

Airborne microplastics, fine particles less than 5 millimeters in size, are just as concerning a health threat as those we ingest. Once inhaled, these minuscule plastic particles can linger in the respiratory system causing different types of damage to our bodies.

Research has shown that inhaled microplastics can cause inflammation throughout the body — not just in the respiratory system — as well as reduced lung function and even cardiovascular effects. While research is ongoing, long term exposure is thought to lead to immune system dysfunction and the development of different types of cancer.

With all that depressing health news, it’s no wonder consumers are becoming careful about the products they use. But up until now, most of the dialogue has been around plastic food packaging. 

Reducing unnecessary plastic, like those individually plastic-wrapped potatoes at the grocery store, and replacing plastic with healthier alternatives like glass and stainless steel is a great way to reduce environmental exposure.

That said, it seems little else has been written about how to protect your environment from microplastics that are airborne. Fortunately, there are simple ways to protect the air from microplastic contamination that’s found in nearly every household. 


How to Protect Your Air from Microplastics

Microplastics may be a common airborne issue, but the solution for removing them has been around for decades. That’s right, portable air purifiers with HEPA filtration can remove all sorts of indoor air contaminants, including microplastics. 

This kind of filter is great at capturing fine particles including bacteria, pollen, dust, viruses, and even microplastics from the air. That’s because it’s designed to capture and remove even the smallest of fine particles that are invisible to the naked eye.

To reduce the risks associated with inhaling airborne microplastics, all you need is an air purifier that’s sized appropriately for your space. The filters act as a barrier, trapping and removing particles from the air, reducing the concentration of microplastics indoors wherever they are running. 

It’s best to run an air purifier 24/7 to get the full benefit of its cleaning power. That’s because unlike an HVAC unit, which keeps the air in a certain temperature range by regularly conditioning the air with warmer or cooler air, an air purifier is consistently cleaning and removing contaminants from the air. 

If you run it once pets are shedding extra or people are sneezing, the air purifier will be working to treat the problem rather than help prevent it. These are signs the air quality has already worsened, unfortunately. And who wants to suffer when they don’t have to?

With an energy efficient air purifier, like the Mod+, you’ll never worry about the impact on your electrical bill. It’s engineered to efficiently and effectively run in the background 24/7 so you can breathe easier knowing it’s cleaning the air.


How HEPA Filters Work and What They’re Made Of

HEPA filters are made of a dense arrangement of fibers, creating a maze-like path for air to pass through. As air circulates, microplastic particles and other contaminants become entangled and trapped within the fibers, preventing them from re-entering the indoor environment. 

Oransi air purifiers use pleated HEPA material to capture these fine particles and remove them from whatever space they’re cleaning.

HEPA filters are designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns with an efficiency of 99.97%. This makes them very effective in trapping airborne microplastics, which typically range in size from 0.1 to 1 micron. 

Air purifiers with HEPA filtration act as a frontline defense against airborne microplastics. They help to create an environment with reduced concentrations of these potentially harmful particles. 


How to Choose the Right Air Purifier for Airborne Microplastics

When looking for the right air purifier to clean any indoor air issue, the two most important considerations are room size and filter type. 

First, consider the size of your space. Is the air purifier designed to handle that square footage and provide fresh air regularly to it? Will it struggle to clean your space because it’s designed for a much smaller room? Estimate the square footage of your space and then look for air purifiers that can handle that easily. 

The ideal healthy air flow from an air purifier is a full change of air every 12.5 minutes or 4.8 full air changes per hour. Some devices also highlight their performance every 30 minutes for 2 full air changes per hour. This is still decent air flow. 

For removing airborne microplastics, you’ll want to look for HEPA material in filters. Carbon filters are great for odors and VOCs (these are toxic gasses like when new furniture off-gasses). 

A word of caution though, the idea that the smell of a room and the health of a room are linked is not always the case. There could very well be a high concentration of microplastics, bacteria, or virus particles in a pleasant smelling room since these fine particles are typically odorless or masked easily by fragrance. 

Microplastics are everywhere in our environment and, while invisible, they're a very real health concern. And while so much of the conversation has been devoted to food packaging and what we ingest, it’s just as important to consider the air we breathe and what could be in it. 

For anyone wanting to limit health risks and live their best, longest life, there are some easy ways to limit microplastic exposure. Air purifiers with HEPA filters are a simple, effective way to protect your air from microplastics and a host of other indoor air contaminants. It’s the easiest peace of mind out there, with just the press of a button.