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New Showroom Showcases Whole-Home Smart Air Purification Technology

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COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing to go viral during the pandemic—demand for indoor air quality has also seen an uptick in the last few years. “Clean air is the new clean water,” says Jerry McGuire, president of PuriFi, which recently opened a first-of-its-kind showroom showcasing indoor air quality features in Scottsdale (16447 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 109). “Thirty years ago, we didn’t drink purified water like we do today, and I think in much less time than that, we’ll be doing the same with air.” The Arizona-based company discovered that many consumers were interested in air purification technology but perplexed about where to begin. “What we’ve created is an education center for people to experience firsthand measured air-quality demonstrations of what a typical home environment looks like versus what a purified environment looks like,” McGuire says. “We show that to them with sensors and data.”

Q&A With PuriFi’s Jerry McGuire

Portrait of a man in a blue suit
PuriFi president Jerry McGuire

What is PuriFi?

Tell us about the store and what folks can expect when they visit.

Part of the genesis of that came from consumers and things that we heard from them—they didn’t know where to go to learn about air quality. They weren’t finding the information they needed in a big-box store, or they found conflicting information online.

What we’ve created is an education center for people to experience firsthand measured air-quality demonstrations of what a typical home environment looks like versus what a purified environment looks like. We demonstrate that to them with sensors and data.

Also, we have a 20-foot-by-10-foot LED wall in the store on which we broadcast a specialized laser visualization. These specialized lasers make the invisible visible, so beyond just measuring the pollution and putting numbers on a screen, we show people the pollution itself, because our eyes can’t see it.

An analogy to that is if you’ve ever looked out the window and the sun is shining through, and you can see all the particles flying around in the air. We do that in a hyper-intense way and put it on a screen so that people can see what’s in the air they breathe in a typical home versus what it might be like in a purified environment. They can then see that contrast and be a little more conscious of the choices and the tradeoffs that they’re making.

Common Air Pollutants in Your Home

What things in and outside of our homes can impact our indoor air quality?

We’ve made our buildings as tight as we can, and they don’t breathe as much as they used to. What happens is pollution comes in from outside. The particles that make up that pollution are too small and too light to ever leave the room or make it to an air filter, and then the house is no longer breathing, so it’s not exhausting either—you get this compound effect of accumulation inside of the home because of that.

Some other things that can affect it are things that we think are helpful—scented plug-ins and candles or so-called air fresheners that spray things into the air. We might enjoy the scent, but it’s generating particle pollution in our homes.

If you get particles out of the air along with ions that neutralize odors, you will have no smell in your home. That’s really what clean air smells like; it smells like nothing.

How does poor indoor air quality impact people?

During the pandemic, we got a significant increase in data and publications. What we’re finding from organizations like the American Lung Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health and others is that these ultrafine particles get into our lungs and bloodstream because they evade our body’s natural defense systems.

It affects cardiovascular health. We’re seeing increases in lung cancer in people who don’t smoke because of the pollution that they’re breathing in. And some recent data is tying it to neurological disorders. Those are some of the more intense aspects of it. Beyond that, there are some day-to-day living things that we run into such as allergies. Particles in the air are triggers for allergic responses and asthma or pulmonary responses, so the fewer particles in the air, the fewer triggers there are for those kinds of issues.

According to Arizona State University, odors are particles, so there are also nuisance-related factors, whether it’s smelling fish in the house 12 hours after you cooked it, or if you’ve got dogs and cats and they create their own set of odors sometimes, and you just want it to be pleasant inside of your home without needing to add pollution to it with aerosols or candles. Purifying your air is one of the best ways to get there.

Whole-Home Purification Systems: Why They Work

How do these whole-home systems work compared to other ways to improve a home’s air quality?

There are a couple of important categories to think about as it relates to strategies or technologies to try to solve air-quality problems with.

You have HVAC systems, which move the air; they can also bring in outdoor air.

The challenge is outdoor air is not always clean. We tend to call it fresh air, but it can be pretty contaminated. For example, Arizona is the fifth worst in ozone in the country and seventh worst in particulate pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

You have air filters that go inside those HVAC systems, and you’re hoping that the contaminants inside of your home are going to somehow be sucked up through your house into that filter and removed so that the air quality gets better.

Third, there are in-room air purifiers, which we’ve all seen in big-box or retail stores. You plug them into the wall and maybe they have their own filter, and it sits next to your couch. What we frequently see from consumers is they don’t know that there’s an air filter in there that needs to be changed or they forget to change it, which decreases its ability to turn over the air in the home and could increase the electricity cost of operating it.

A fourth category of technology is air duct-mounted devices, and they get installed in your HVAC system. It’s a pretty compact device. As soon as it’s activated it sends active molecules into the occupied space that are positively and negatively charged, and they go find their opposite pollutant in that space. Another way I say it is that these ions come into the room and they sweep the air clean on your behalf, much like a Roomba does on your floor.

With PuriFI’s whole home system, you get proof that it’s working. We deliver proof of performance and of the air quality every 90 seconds.

When you go to a whole-home technology like PuriFi, you are sweeping the entire environment clean from a central location. The energy consumption of the technology is 5 to 10 watts, so it’s a tenth of a light bulb in terms of energy consumption, and you get proven performance without having things all over the floor or remembering what filters I need to change in the air purifiers and consuming extra electricity.

How can people test air quality in their homes so they can understand where they’re starting from?

The good news is that air-quality sensors are available from many different outlets now. The key is to find a sensor that’s accurate because not all of them are.

The sensors that we use are 98.7% accurate on the ultrafine particles that are most dangerous to us. You’ve got to make sure that you’re able to analyze those most dangerous particle sizes accurately. Then you can plug it in or connect it to your phone, depending on which technology you buy, and trend it and track it, because what happens inside of our homes will affect their quality—it won’t be the same all the time.

I encourage people to make sure that they get all the information that they can, up to and including proof of performance from whatever technology or solution they look to bring it to their home because we’re dealing with invisible things. The only way to know if you make progress is to measure it.

We say clean air is the new clean water. Thirty years ago, we didn’t drink purified water like we do today, and I think in much less time than that, we’ll be doing the same with air.

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