How the pandemic focused attention on the air we breathe

Covid-19 forced many of us to spend more time inside our homes. And learning that the virus is airborne turned our attention to air quality in general. What are we breathing in that we cannot see, and how will it affect our health?

The average person spends 90% of their time indoors. Indoor air is considered to be 2 to 5 times (and even up to 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air.

Over time, our constant exposure to polluted indoor air can cause or exacerbate respiratory health problems. If you are an asthma sufferer, or prone to allergic reactions, then the danger is even higher.

To make matters worse, modern amenities such as double-glazing make it difficult for air born pollutants to be expelled naturally, necessitating a technological solution.

What is an air purifier?

Air purifiers work by essentially purifying indoor environments of airborne particles. Think of them as the opposite to a smell diffuser which adds particles to indoor air.

Unlike air filters, purifiers don’t just trap particles but actively purify the air which passes through them, neutralising potentially harmful particles for a fresher, cleaner living environment.

What specific particles and pollutants can air purifiers remove?

Polluting particles vary greatly in terms of their size and point of origin. These particles are measured in terms of microns (a unit of length equal to one-millionth of a meter).

Air purifiers such as the Braun Scan & Clean can filtrate a range of different particles, from 0.03 microns – the size of an airborne virus. For a more comprehensive list, see the below:

.005 – 0.3Viruses
0.1 - 4Tobacco smoke
.3 – 60Bacteria
.5 – 10+Household dust
2.5 - 10Pet dander
3 - 40Mould spores
10 - 100Pollen

What is ifD® filtration technology?

Air purifiers use different technologies to remove pollutants from the air. ifD® is an advanced, patented system found in leading brands, like Braun. ifD® uses a fan to circulate the air in a room and force it through the ifD® filter. A high voltage source actively charges the filter, forcing particles to be captured in alternating layers of extruded co-polymer flutes, which look like honeycomb.

As air exits the air purifier, it is charged by an ionizer. The charged air molecules (ions) attached their charge to particles (like dust) that are floating in the room. Then, the charged particles are pulled into the product inlet grille and pass into the ifD® filter.

The positively charged filter attracts the negatively charged dust particles, trapping them against the multiple layers of the ifD® filter.

Filters can capture 99-99.9% of microscopic particles from 2 to 0.3 microns in size.*

*Based on independent testing, report 103408404COL-001. From the air that passes through the filter, 0.3 microns and larger. This air purifier has not been tested on the virus that causes COVID-19.

How to use an air purifier

First choose the best location for your air purifier. Ideally, this is a space that is unobstructed on all four sides – important for optimal air circulation.

Make sure to point the flow in the right direction. In large rooms, ensure that the flow of clean air is directed nearby, where you will receive the best benefit from it. In smaller rooms, this is less of a problem as it will be easier for the machine to purify all the air around it. Also, be sure to keep surrounding windows and doors tightly closed to stop pollutants from getting in, and your newly cleaned air from escaping.

Once on, try and leave the machine running for as long as possible, especially in homes with an abundance of pets, or where people smoke.

And be sure to change your filters regularly, or at least as much as the manufacturer of the machine recommends.

Get cleaner air effortlessly with the Braun Scan & Clean Air purifier Cleaner air by design™

The Braun Scan & Clean Air purifier doesn’t just look the part, it also delivers outstanding performance with its innovative and easy to use tech.

Key benefits:

  • It cleans up the air in real time
  • Captures up to 99.9% of viruses similar in size to H1N1 and certain coronaviruses*
  • Effortless to use in your home

Key features:

  • Air quality sensor
  • Automatic start mode
  • Triple filtration catches up to 99.9% of PM 2.5 up to 0.3 microns
  • Permanent & washable filter
  • 4 air cleaning levels, from low to high
  • Patented ifD technology.

*Based on independent testing, report 103408404COL-001. Results are based upon (1) the testing of the reduction of the MS2 virus after 2 hours of use, operated at the High setting; and (2) airborne virus particle size of 0.1 microns or larger that pass though the filter. The particle size of the MS2 virus is similar in size to H1N1 and certain coronaviruses. Testing performed at Intertek, Columbus, OH. This air purifier has not been tested on the virus that causes Covid-19.

What else can you do to help purify the air in your house?

As well as using an air purifier, there are various other ways you can improve the air quality inside your home – many of which are free! Here are some suggestions:

  • Open your windows – Open your windows for as little as five minutes a day to alleviate harmful indoor air pollutants. It’s simple yet effective, and completely free.
  • Introduce house plants – Other than providing nice décor, house plants naturally filter out common volatile organic compounds from your indoor air. For example, spider plants are known to sequester benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
  • Take your shoes off at the door – Potentially harmful particles such as pesticides, pollen, fungi and bacteria are commonly transferred into the house via people’s shoes. That’s why it’s important to take them off at the door to stop the spread.
  • Groom your pets – Brushing your pets (especially dogs and cats) outdoors, and vacuuming floors and furnishings regularly is a great way to alleviate pet dander.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning chemicals – Many common household cleaners contain toxic chemicals which can irritate your eyes, nose, and lungs. Consider using greener alternatives, such as vinegar, baking soda, citrus juice and/or essential oils.
  • Get rid of mould – Mould likes to grow in dark, dank places such as basements, bathrooms, and porchways. To avoid the proliferation of mould spores, kill any signs of fungus growth as soon as you notice it.

Low blood oxygen levels provide important and early indicators of poor respiratory health and deterioration. That’s why it’s important to understand your levels and act on them quickly.

Understanding blood oxygen

Blood oxygen levels indicate the amount of oxygen saturation in the blood. This helps you assess the presence of hypoxemia (low oxygen levels). It is also used by healthcare professionals to establish diagnosis and severity of heart disease.

Measuring your blood oxygen levels regularly is a good way to track your respiratory health and spot any deterioration. This can help to ensure more timely medical intervention if required.

Who needs to keep track of their blood oxygen levels?

While anyone concerned with the status of their health may wish to keep track of their blood oxygen levels, it’s particularly relevant for specific groups:

  • People with health conditions that compromise lung function – such as COPD (chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease) and sleep apnoea
  • People with temporarily compromised respiratory function due to illness (e.g. pneumonia or Covid-19)
  • People who suffer from cardiovascular diseases
  • Athletes wishing to track their performance levels, or who are engaging in high altitude activities (e.g. hiking and mountaineering)

How to get a reading from a finger-clip pulse oximeter

Using a pulse oximeter is simple and can be done from home without the assistance of a medical professional.

The first step is to wash your hands. Also, make sure the finger you’re going to use is free of nail polish or a false nail.

Make sure your hand is warm to the touch – rest it on your chest for 5 mins to make sure.

Attach the clip to your index finger (between your thumb and middle finger). Make sure your finger is fully inserted and not pressed hard into a surface. Turn the device on and keep your finger steady.

When the pulse oximeter displays your reading, write the numbers down in your diary. One measures how fast your heart is beating (BPM) and the other measures how much oxygen is in your blood.

What’s normal?

A ‘normal’ heart rate changes with age:*

Newborn–2 years: 100–180 bpm

2–10years: 60–140 bpm

10 years–adult: 50-100 bpm

But with blood oxygen levels (SpO2), while 95% or above is typically considered normal, it’s not always clear cut, as we discuss in the next section.


What constitutes low blood oxygen levels?

According to the World Health Organisation, oxygen saturation ≥ 95% is considered normal in people aged 12 years or older

Oxygen Saturation Levels
ReadingABG Level*O Sat result**
Below Normal< 80 mm Hg< 95%
Normal> 80 mm Hg95% to 100%

*Arterial Blood Gas
**Oxygen Saturation

However, with diseases such as COPD or other lung diseases, these ranges may not apply. For example, people with severe COPD may maintain their SpO2 levels between 88-92%. A doctor or consultant will be able to advise on the normal range their specific condition.

Be advised that below normal blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia) can be extremely serious, potentially causing complications in body tissue and organs. You should always consult a medical professional if reading falls below the normal range.

What can cause a drop in oxygen levels?

Low blood oxygen levels are a key indicator for compromised lung function, such as COPD (chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease) and sleep apnoea. It might also be a sign that respiratory function is temporarily compromised, often due to a temporary illness such as pneumonia.

Those with Covid-19 may also have low blood oxygen levels, even if they feel relatively well. Low oxygen levels can be an early warning sign to get tested or seek medical care.

It’s important to note that while Covid-19 may cause someone to have low blood oxygen levels, low blood oxygen levels in themselves are not necessarily indicative of infection. If you are worried, get tested or seek medical advice, especially if you have been near someone with the illness.

What is a pulse oximeter?

A pulse oximeter accurately measures oxygen saturation, pulse rate, and pulse amplitude, enabling users to track their respiratory health.

In more detail:

The principle of pulse oximetry is based on the difference in the selective absorption of red light by oxygenated blood compared to deoxygenated blood.

They work by transmitting a red and infrared light through a person’s finger and onto a detector inside a finger clip. This detects how much of the light has been absorbed by the oxygenated blood. The transmitted light is then analysed using a microprocessor which provides a % spO2 value.

These devices have been used by medical professionals for almost 50 years, although the technology has moved on significantly in that time. Devices have been adapted for home use and are now smaller, cheaper, easier to use and more accurate.

Leading the sector – the Braun Pulse oximeter 1

The Braun Pulse oximeter 1 is the ideal choice for customers for various reasons.

Key benefits:

  • Measures oxygen levels with clinically validated accuracy (meeting European standards CE)
  • Built to last, with a 2-year warranty
  • Trusted, well-known brand

Key features:

  • Comfortable finger clip design
  • Back-lit OLED display – for easy viewing and reading
  • Simple, push-button, rotating display – 4 different directions, 6 different displays
  • Automatic shut-off when the finger is removed

How to promote normal oxygen levels in your blood

There are several ways you can help your body improve blood oxygen retention.
Here are some starters for ten:*

  • Fresh air – Spending time outside, going for walks or even just opening the window can help increase oxygen availability to your lungs
  • Quit smoking – in just two weeks, people who have given up cigarettes find that circulation and overall oxygen levels improve significantly
  • Grow plants – certain houseplants can remove carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into your home
  • Do some breathing exercises – 'yoga' style deep breathing exercises can open your airways and increase oxygen intake