With the outbreak of the mosquito-borne dengue fever in Singapore this year, it seems prudent to stock up on mosquito repellent and traps.
And as the haze is another perennial issue here, would it not be perfect if there was a device that could catch mosquitoes and clean the air at the same time?
Sharp's air purifier (FP-JM40E-B) claims to do both. As a bonus, it is also said to inhibit bacteria and viruses in the air through the release of charged ions.
Its mosquito catcher function relies on a combination of ultraviolet light and a black finish to lure mosquitoes to the openings at the back of the air purifier, where they will be sucked in and caught by a glue sheet.
Sharp says a laboratory test conducted with the Institute for Medical Research in Malaysia found that its air purifier could reduce up to 91 per cent of Culex mosquitoes and, more importantly, up to 73 per cent of the Aedes variant that spreads dengue.
To find out its real-world efficacy, I left the Sharp air purifier turned on 24/7 in my home. Three weeks later, there was just one dead mosquito on the glue sheet.
Of course, I had some inkling that the mosquito catcher is not quite up to scratch. During the test period, I was bitten several times by mosquitoes while seated near the air purifier. And in one of my prouder moments, I actually killed two mosquitoes with a single squirt of insecticide within a metre of the air purifier.
The insecticide incident showed that the Sharp air purifier is competent at its primary task of cleaning the air. Within 30 seconds of the insecticide being released near it, the device's LED indicator (dubbed the Cleanliness monitor) changed from blue to red to signal the presence of impurities in the air. The air purifier then automatically increased the fan speed to remove the unpleasant odour of the insecticide. Air quality was back to a healthy level in under 10 minutes.
Sharp says that the air purifier can fight certain types of flu viruses by releasing charged hydrogen and oxygen ions. The ions would bond to the surface of airborne viruses and inhibit their infectiousness, according to studies conducted by Sharp with a number of research institutes.
Inside the air purifier are three different types of filters - a pre-filter that removes larger particles, a carbon filter that removes unpleasant odours and a Hepa filter that removes up to 99.7 per cent of particulate matter, including fine particles of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5).
Users are prompted via light indicators on the air purifier's control panel to change the filters or replace the glue sheet. The process is simple and takes a few minutes. Depending on the environment and usage, the filters ($79 each) are said to last about two years while the glue sheet ($19) about two months.
• Responds to bad odours quickly
• Relatively quiet
• Not too successful at catching mosquitoes
COVERAGE: 30 sq m
NOISE LEVEL: 15 to 45 dB
DIMENSIONS: 397 x 591 x 289mm
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
At the Auto fan setting, this model is quiet - you probably will not notice its presence. At its maximum fan speed, the noise is that of an electric fan at moderate speed.
Compared with other air purifiers, this model lacks modern functions such as support for a smartphone app.
While I have no complaints about its ability to purify the air, its mosquito-catching feature does not quite live up to expectations.