Robot vacuums can raise air pollution levels sixfold: study

11/28/2019 10:38 PM
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Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) Robot vacuums operating in enclosed spaces can increase the level of harmful airborne particles by a factor of six, according to study results released on Thursday.

The air quality risks caused by robot vacuums, while noteworthy, were nevertheless lower than those caused by traditional hand-operated vacuums, said Lin Yu-wen (林瑜雯), an associate professor in Fu Jen University's Department of Public Health, at a press conference held by the Taiwan Society of Indoor Environmental Quality and the Chan-yang Wang Trust.

The study found that hand-operated vacuums caused airborne particle levels to rise to 13 times their base level, while robot vacuums caused a corresponding sixfold rise after 10 minutes' use.

For both types of vacuum, only after 90 minutes did the levels of pollutants return to normal, Lin said.

According to Lin, the study also highlighted the air quality risks for families with children at home, as samples taken at a young child's height of 75 centimeters, and a crawling height of 45 centimeters each showed higher levels of pollution than those taken at an adult's height.

The study measured inhalable air particles known as PM2.5 -- particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, which can penetrate deeply into the lungs, causing respiratory tract infections, allergies and asthma-like symptoms.

To avoid causing respiratory damage, Lin recommended the use of surgical masks while vacuuming by hand at home, and allowing at least 90 minutes for the pollutants to settle afterwards.

Those using robot vacuums should turn them on when nobody is at home, Lin said.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)


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