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How clean air drives the economy

Living longer in Blue Zones

Pollen: our natural enemy

The airtist’s invisible art

«Water and air have become global garbage cans, but there is a solution – it’s only a matter of science!»

Love is in the air The green heroes, trends, and innovations shaping a more sustainable world.

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Swedish entrepreneur Sofie Allert believes algae can be part of an energy revolution.

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inside 04 FILTER The people, trends and innovations that contribute to a better and more sustainable world.

12 ALGAE ENERGISER Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth inspired Sofie Allert to try to change the world by unleashing the power of algae.

16 CLEAN AIR MAKES YOU MORE CREATIVE Did you know that people’s strategic skills are up to 288 per cent better in an environment with good air quality?

18 BLUE ZONES Fresh air and a good diet can contribute to a long and healthy life and there are some places in the world where people live exceptionally long lives.

«By providing people with the technology to make their air cleaner, I feel I can make a real difference.» BINGBING SHI, filtration specialist at Blueair, p. 56.

20 THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE AIR It’s estimated that by 2050 more than 70 per cent of people will live in cities so it’s time to talk about the future – and solutions for better air.

24 CLEAN AIR DRIVES THE ECONOMY It’s clear that many of the world’s biggest cities face major challenges when it comes to air quality. What’s not clear is the best way to tackle the problem.

26 ECOLIVING Whether in the bustling heart of Manhattan or on a tranquil Alpine slope, these hotels focus on sustainability and the environment.

28 INVISIBLE ALLIES Diatoms are not only beautiful. These tiny gems also help produce the oxygen we breathe.

30 THE AIRTIST Emily Parsons-Lord from Australia works with an invisible medium to create art works with oxygen.

32 UP IN THE AIR From gentle gusts to fierce gales, the wind can drive us crazy or keep us entertained.

40 MAN ON A MISSION Twenty years ago a conversation with Blueair’s founder inspired a decade-long quest for elegant and function product design.

42 EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE We know why we breathe. And we care about what we breathe. Now it’s time to give some thought to how we breathe.

46 DEEP BLUE Swedish freediver Annelie Pompe believes that humans are designed to spend time in – and under – the sea.

48 NATURAL ENEMY It is estimated that almost 30 per cent of people in industrialised countries are allergic to pollen.

50 THE AIRMAKERS No other air purifier has won as many design awards as the Blueair Sense. We meet the trio of designers behind it to find out more about the success story.

54 TRANSPARANCY Everyone should have the right to clean air – welcome to our world!

34 AN EYE FOR DETAIL Smart on the inside – and beautiful on the outside. Blueair leads the way in design and technical innovation.


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Breathe in.


o make a difference. That’s what this is all about. Blueair was founded 20 years

ago by the Swedish entrepreneur Bengt Rittri. His ambition was to give people the possibility of

breathing clean air. And that is still Blueair’s mission. Clean air continues to motivate us every day. Air pollution is currently one of the most critical environmental issues. It doesn’t respect country borders, it doesn’t mind if you’re rich or poor – we all breathe the same air. However, even though some environmental reports are alarming, it’s important to remember that there are solutions. And that’s what we want to bring to the fore in this magazine, those that share our vision: scientists, champions of the environment, entrepreneurs, architects, even entire cities. Those that are pioneering a more sustainable lifestyle by promoting the benefits of a cleaner world. That’s what this magazine is about. To spread knowledge and show that change is possible. That’s why this magazine isn’t focused solely on our air products – the issues we tackle are much bigger than that.

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ontribute to a b e at c t t th er ns

trends and inno , e l va tio op e P

Filter sustainable w ore o rld dm . an

Sky walker

It’s elementary

Oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (49 per cent by mass) and the third most common element in the universe.


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people who spend a lot of time in nature have bigger brains. (Yep, no kidding!) With this in mind, we can hardly imagine the brilliant ideas that must be hatched by the practitioners of highlining, a form of outdoor tightrope-walking. The highlining rope is often suspended in a picturesque setting, so that the walker is surrounded by fresh air and scenic spots as they precariously balance en route to their goal. One thing is certain: every step you take and every breath of fresh air you draw into your lungs can improve your life and make you more creative – whether that comes in the form of highlining, a serene hike, or a daily walk during your lunch break.


One foot forward, and then another. It’s not so strange that those first tentative steps we took as children were heartily applauded by our parents. Being able to go outside regularly and walk in the fresh air is so much more than an inexpensive form of travel. A research report from Stanford University entitled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs” noted that “walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after”. That is to say, you have more imaginative and exuberant ideas when you move your legs. Furthermore, the report states that the best original thinking occurs when walking outdoors, not to mention that

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Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde has come up with a gem of an idea: air-purifying towers that subject the carbon in smog to such enormous pressure that it is converted into diamonds. The diamond can then be used to fund more towers. Beginning in heavilypolluted Chinese cities, Roosegaarde inaugurated the first tower during Beijing Design Week in 2016. His goal is a future with cities so clean that “these towers are no longer needed”.


What’s that buzzing in the smog-filled air? Why, it’s an unmanned smog fighter! In 2014, Chinese media reported that drones fitted with a paragliding wing and a device to freeze smog particles in the air are to undergo testing. An exciting idea, although less reassuring was the news that particles frozen by the drones would then smash to the ground.



CLEANSING ARTIFICIAL RAIN We all know that the air can feel cleaner after it rains, but did you know that so-called cloud seeding has long been used to produce artificial rain? It’s a method that is now being studied as a way of helping to clean up smog in Delhi. However, there are concerns about the toxicity of silver iodide, the chemical compound used to start the process.



Two green forests stand tall amid the boisterousness of Milan. This is Bosco verticale, a pair of skyscrapers that house 400 residential units and have received incredible attention for their innovative green concept. The buildings’ 21,000 plants generate oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and reduce noise.

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Imagine a city of people running around screaming like a science fiction film. Well, if a new speculative proposal by Chinese designers Shi Jianwei, Hao Tian and Huang Haiyang comes to pass, it’s a situation we may face. The designers have proposed a series of squid-like creatures hovering high in the air that would be able to capture and process pollution in urban environments. The dream of fresh air has never looked more futuristic.

Sources: Wired, Bloomberg and Dezeen

Filter / New ideas



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«As I watched the wind’s choreography unfold, I felt sheltered, and at the same time, connected to a limitless sky.»



Sources: Wired, Bloomberg and Dezeen

Filter / Motion


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American artist and sculptor Janet Echelman lets air currents do the work for her – she creates large-scale, suspended sculptures in which the wind acts as a co-creative force. It all started when Echelman was visiting a fishing village in India. While there, she found that she could use fishing nets “to make volumetric form without heavy solid materials”, as she explained in a 2011 TED Talk, which has now been viewed by more than 1.7 million people. When Echelman hung up her first sculpture made from these fishing nets she saw how “their soft surfaces, revealed every ripple of wind, in constantly shifting patterns… As I watched the wind’s choreography unfold, I felt sheltered, and at the same time, connected to limitless sky.” Since then, Echelman has created increasingly spectacular public works for cities all around the world. She has also tried working with new materials and started using lighting to enhance the effect of what she calls “the wind’s choreography”. Her work has also been ranked number one in O, The Oprah Magazine’s list of ‘Fifty Things That Make You Say Wow!’

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Contaminated large cities


20 %

Limit for human life



About 10,000 years ago

35 %


Filter / Airpocalypse

Sea levels




12% of the world’s reefs have bleached due to climate changes.

Did you think that oxygen was permanent and something you could take for granted? Take a deep breath and think again. Researchers now believe that global warming is one reason why oxygen is reducing at an increasing rate. When the icecaps melt and the ocean becomes warmer, organic materials such as algae drop down to the ocean’s depths to decompose. The consequence? Consumption of oxygen increases the acidification of the ocean. In this, the natural world is like a game of dominoes: once one brick falls, the rest soon follows. The greatest changes are visible in the areas around the Arctic, where oxygen levels have dropped by up to five per cent.

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* Blueair provides clean air for Fairmont Hotel in Beijing.

An appetite for smog The fight against air pollution is producing increasingly innovative solutions. How about buildings that “eat” carbon dioxide? German company Prosolve created a coral-shaped facade made of specially designed modules that, with help from the sun’s rays, consume carbon dioxide. In Mexico City, which is heavily affected by pollution, these facades have been tested with success in locations including the Torre de Especialidades hospital where, according to Prosolve engineers, they neutralise the daily emissions of a thousand cars.


Could traffic jams be used for books and taxi rides for tattoos? Graviky Labs of New Delhi has developed a method for producing ink by extracting carbon from the exhaust gases of engines with the help of a filter that attaches to the tail pipe. “One of our employees had the idea when his white shirt developed black dots in just a few hours from all the pollutants present in the air,” says co-founder Nikhil Kaushik. The company recently launched its AIR-INK project on Kickstarter.

«Water and air, the two essential elements on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.» Jacques Yves Costeau, scientist

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Filter / Design

“The hotel industry is sadly late in offering clean indoor air,” says Uusitalo, “and there are only a few that have air purifiers for their guests. What you can do is be sure to have the windows and doors closed and not ventilate unnecessarily, to make sure outside pollution doesn’t come in. I try to stay in a newer hotel with good standards, as they usually have a ventilation system with a good filter to achieve a better indoor climate.” What if it’s a polluted city? “One idea is to choose a hotel on the outskirts of the city where it is less polluted,” advises Uusitalo. “If you are a tourist, or can otherwise control the timing of your trip, research how the pollution level varies over the year. In China*, for example, many coal plants start up and run in the autumn and winter. December to February is generally more polluted than spring and summer.” Uusitalo also recommends getting a face mask as a way to protect yourself from air pollution. This advice, he explains, is all part of Blueair’s wider mission: “We strive to help as many people as possible to get clean air.”




How do you get the best air quality when staying at hotels in some of the world’s greatest cities? Daniel Uusitalo, business development manager at Blueair, clocks up 120 travel days a year and has picked up a few tips along the way.


Tips for upgrading hotel air

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have begun testing a new method of reducing air pollutants by spraying the road with titanium oxide. They found that smog could be reduced by up to 45 per cent compared with an unsprayed section of road. The coating pulls nitrogen oxides out of the air and converts them into less dangerous nitrates.

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Everybody is a star Look up at the sky at night. Try to get far away from the lights of the city, where the stars and their constellations can really twinkle in the darkness. Then consider these facts: 1. After hydrogen and helium, oxygen is the universe’s most common element. 2. Our body consists of about two thirds oxygen. 3. More than one fifth of our atmosphere is made up of oxygen. 4. Scientists believe that oxygen was formed during the birth and development of the stars after the Big Bang. Take a breath and exhale. See how the sky glimmers. And then try to grasp the fact that your body is crafted from a material forged during the birth of the stars.


Laura Ingalls Wilder, author



It is said that celebrities such as Madonna inhale puffs of pure oxygen that sharpen the senses. The treatment is now available at luxury hotel chains such as the Ritz-Carlton, which stocks Oxygen Plus (O+). O+ that consists of a compact tube containing 95 per cent oxygen that can be used by visitors cities with polluted air, according to specialist travel website Luxury Daily.

Three house plants that have purifying powers.

As well as being particularly good at transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen, the Areca Palm has the ability to remove specific pollutants from the air. Mother-in-law’s Tongue, also known as the Bedroom Plant, has the remarkable ability to produce oxygen throughout the night. In addition, it has been recognised by Nasa for its ability to filter carcinogenic benzene – which is found in cigarette smoke, dyes and plastics – from the air. A Money Plant is a living, miniature treatment facility, filtering dangerous pollutants from the air. It needs watering only once a week.


The element oxygen was actually discovered twice. In the 1770s, both the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele and the Englishman John Priestley produced oxygen in their laboratories, entirely independently of one another.

Our modest hero The oxygen molecule O2 has no smell and is invisible to the naked eye, but it is essential for life in both the water and on land. In contrast, its highly toxic cousin ozone, designated O3, is much more flagrant, announcing its presence with a sharp odour.

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Researchers find a way to measure air quality through Instagram. A group of researchers at Nanyang University in Singapore has come up with a method of measuring air quality by analysing social media feeds. Each year more than three trillion images are uploaded on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Researchers found that by analysing the images they could begin to gain an insight into our climate. Careful study can reveal patterns in the weather systems that they depict. Interaction between air masses in different locations can also be seen, thanks to the geographical spread of social media usage. Fortunately, the method can be automated. As it gets rolled out more widely, it will likely tell us a great deal more about our future climate.


Filter / Oxygen

«Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.»

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A sherpa who lived in the Himalayas in Nepal, Tenzing Norgay was the first to reach the top of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. He passed his expertise on to his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay who is also a mountaineer.






John Evelyn was a British scientist who wrote one of the first known reports on air pollution, Fumifugium, in 1661. Among the subjects: the problem with coal-smoke pollution in London.


Born in Paris in 1841, Berthe Morisot was one of the impressionist artists who preferred to paint outdoors and inspired countless others to leave their studios and step out into the light. Her own works include sun-drenched scenery and fresh sea views.

Forrest Bird invented the first ventilator designed for the mass market. In 1970, he also created a respirator for children, which greatly decreased respirationrelated mortality.





Filter / Air Heroes

The current Mayor of Paris, Ann Hidalgo, has fought for traffic restrictions to reduce smog and stated that she wants to “divide by around half the number of polluting private cars in the French capital”.



American Larry Winiarski created the Rocket stove recently. It can drastically reduce fuel consumption and emission of toxic gases during cooking in developing countries.



Five years ago, at the age of 17, American scientist Naomi Shah invented air filters with biological membranes to be used in ventilation to improve the lives of asthma patients.



First to complete a round-the-world flight in a solar-powered plane last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Swiss pioneers have also started an organisation with the aim of widening the use of clean technology.

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algae energiser 12

Interview Swedish entreprenuer Sofie Allert believes algae can be part of an energy revolution.

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Half of the oxygen on Earth comes from algae.

Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 inspired Sofie Allert to try to change the world by unleashing the power of algae.


Oskar Hammarkrantz Bruno Ehrs


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When Sofie Allert was growing up in Skövde, a small town in southern Sweden, her dad worked liming lakes. It gave her an early insight into the environmental damage that industry can wreak. “Environmental destruction is very real for me,” she says. “What we destroyed, we have to fix. This and Al Gore’s film got me to pursue environmental issues and environmental research.” With this in mind, Allert started studying biotechnology at Chalmer’s University, a college in Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast. It was during her graduate work that she came into contact with algae and met Angela Wulff, a professor of marine ecology. “I wanted to find a way to use algae in industrial products as a sustainable raw material, but could not get past the fact that we have long, cold and

dark winters in Sweden,” she says. That was when Wulff told her that an Arctic expedition had discovered that algae could tolerate low temperature and light conditions, as well as growing under ice. “Angela and I were a match made in heaven,” says Allert. “I visualised the problem and she had the solution.” Allert went on to Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship, where she began to turn her ideas and research into reality. “Very good research and many fantastic ideas will never enter the market, but just remain in institutions,” she says. “I’m as much an environmentalist as an entrepreneur. If we want to change anything, we have to live by the rules of the economic game.” As a result of meeting Wulff and her time at the School, Allert founded the

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Sofie Allert Raised: Skövde Lives: Gothenburg Age: 26 Is: CEO of Swedish Algae Factory How I recharge: “Going out to our algae farm in Kungshamn and just getting out in the ocean and forest and seeing how amazing nature is, makes you understand what you are fighting for.”



«Algae are perfect for purifying water of toxic substances like nitrogen and phosphorus, but also as fish feed, fertiliser and fuel for fish farms.» Swedish Algae Factory in 2014, a company that now operates an algae farm on the west coast of Sweden. By 2030, she aims to have 100 algae factories around the world. “The first product we are aiming to get on the market from the algae we grow is their silicon shells,” she says. “These shells are natural nanomaterials with completely amazing properties.” Although algae live on the bottom of dark oceans and lakes, their shells are so sensitive that they can capture even the slightest ray of sunlight, enabling them to survive and multiply. When this became clear to Allert, she immediately saw an unexpected business opportunity in the solar panel industry. Tests have shown that by adding the shells to solar

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panels, it is possible to increase their energy producing potential. “We are talking about a future energy revolution – scientists believe that in line with the current development of solar panels, diatoms can contribute an increase in efficiency up to 60 per cent,” she says. In other words, there are untapped treasures at the bottom of the world’s oceans – and not only from an energy perspective: “The algae are perfect for purifying water of toxic substances like nitrogen and phosphorus, but also as fish feed, fertiliser and fuel for fish farms.” In recent years Allert and the Swedish Algae Factory have been showered by awards. Among them, she has been named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in western Sweden and the

company has been awarded the Zennström Green Mentorship Award, instituted by Niklas Zennström, the entrepreneur behind Skype. Nowadays Allert jokingly describes herself as a true algae nerd and believes that algae is an untapped resource for the production of future sustainable products. And given that algae absorb carbon at a faster rate than other crops, without the need for arable land or freshwater, they also have fewer of the industrial downsides of other sustainable projects. Instead, algae thrive in waste water or salt water. “The fact that people haven’t taken better advantage of the potential of algae is probably only due to tradition and old beliefs and maybe also because the algae bloom gave them kind of a bad reputation, in that they are also seen as a bit disgusting and slimy,” she says. “But algae are responsible for half of all the oxygen production on Earth, so without them we wouldn’t exist.” ●

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Sofie Allert in focus. Earlier in the day she’d met with the speaker of the Swedish Parliament to talk about her work.

THE FUTURE The goal is 100 algae factories in 2030.

Allert on Sweden’s west coast where she has set up an algae farm.

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Scientists believe adding shells from algae to solar panels could increase energy efficiency by as much as 60 per cent.

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clean air makes you more creative Text Blanca SjĂśstedt Photo Bruno Ehrs

Take a deep breath: Did you know that people’s strategic skills are up to 288 per cent better in an environment with good air quality?

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PURE FACTS It’s not unusual that the air you’re breathing inside your home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Under extreme circumstances it can be up to 100 times worse according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.



«Given that we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, it’s remarkable how often the indoor environment is neglected.»

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Most people know that it’s important to have clean air, especially in the workplace. How many of us have been trapped in a crowded meeting room and witnessed how the suffocating environment makes ideas become sluggish and turbid, to the point of inducing yawns? An interesting experiment was performed recently at Harvard University. It compared working conditions in environments with good and bad air. For six days, participants were placed in workplaces with varying air qualities. The aim was to discover how chemicals from furnishings affect our health and how ventilation aids productivity – an issue that has become more important

as buildings are sealed for energyconserving measures. At the end of each of the working day, the participants’ capacities were tested. The results were astounding and the researchers concluded: ● If you want advice from someone, make sure they are in an environment with good air. People’s strategic skills are 288 per cent better in an environment with good air quality. ● Clean air does wonders for our crisis management skills, which are 131 per cent sharper in clean air than in a room with poor air quality. ● Our ability to handle large amounts of information is almost three times better in an environment with good air. Given that we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, it is remarkable how often the indoor environment is neglected. According to National Education Association one third of the schools in the United States has a problem with the air quality. How can any child be expected to succeed in these circumstances? ●

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The secret

LOMO LINDA US Having a strong faith is not a bad idea for those who want to live a long life. In Lomo Linda one third of the inhabitants belong to the Seventh-Day Adventists church.


-olds make up the fastest growing age segment in the world.

The local wine, Cannonau, has three times more antioxidants than regular wine, which is said to explain why there is nowhere in the world where people live as long as in Sardinia.

Research shows that there is nowhere in the world where stress levels are as low as in Nicoya. It is even visible in people’s DNA.

Breathing clean, pollution-free air is one of the most important factors for a long and healthy life.

Clean air and a good diet can contribute to a long and healthy life but there are some places in the world where people live exceptionally long lives. Here’s why!


blue zones Text Anna Borg

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For interesting further reading, we recommend Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die by Diane Kochilas (Rodale Books, 2014).

people are older than 100.




The secret

In Okinawa they follow the principle of “Hara hachi bu” which means eating in moderation and stopping before you get full.


of the food in Blue Zones comes from plants.

What’s the secret to the places where inhabitants live longer than elsewhere? That’s the question Belgian researcher Michel Poulain and his Italian colleague Gianni Pes asked when they discovered the high proportion of 100-year-olds in the Sardinian mountains. They marked the spot in blue and the term “Blue Zones” was coined. Since then, more areas have had their names circled, such as Loma Linda in the United States, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece and Okinawa in Japan. When you compare how people live in these places, ten common factors have been found:

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1 2 3

Daily exercise. Those who live the longest move a lot in their everyday lives, often without thinking about it. A sense of purpose. Feeling that you have responsibilities can extend your life by up to seven years. Gearing down. Stress contributes to a variety of age-related diseases, so it is important to find ways to cut down on stress or learn to manage it better. For example, in Sardinia, people take naps in the afternoon. Eating in moderation. People in Blue Zones tend to eat until they are not hungry any more, not until they are stuffed. Eating more beans. Those who live the longest eat more plant-based foods, often beans. They also eat less meat.

4 5


Drinking wine. Moderate wine drinkers live longer than those who never drink wine. One to two glasses a day in good company is the recommendation. Belonging. Gathering in a faith community around once a month, for example, can increase your lifespan by up to 14 years. Prioritising family. Live close to your parents, find a partner for life, and dedicate time to your children. A healthy social environment. Those who live in Blue Zones have a social network that supports their life choices. Breathing clean, pollution-free air is one of the most important factors for a long and healthy life.


8 9


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there’s something in the air Photo Magnus

Torsne Text Dan Jordan City living Blueair_20-23_Storstad_Alt.indd 20

It’s estimated that by 2050 more than 70 per cent of people will live in cities so it’s time to talk about the future – and solutions for better air.

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The Big Apple is often hit by huge waves of pollen in the spring. An air purifier tackles the problem.

It’s time to clean up our cities. From left to right: Blue by Blueair, the easygoing air purifier. Blueair Pro L, extremely efficient yet silent. Blueair Sense+, award-winning design.


Blueair Sense+ has won numerous awards, among them the prestigious Red Dot Design Award.


City living

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From left to right: Blueair Classic 280i, perfect for smaller rooms. Blueair Aware, a smart way to find out about air quality. Blueair Sense+. Blueair Pro L. Not all models are available in every market.

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When air pollution spiked in 2016, sales of air purifiers soared by 300 per cent.

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40 per cent of school children in the city have reduced lung capacity due to bad air, according to the World Health Organization.


City living

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Each year, the cost of air pollution is a staggering five trillion dollars, a sum that can be hard to comprehend in its enormity. By way of comparison, there are only one trillion insects on earth, and only 1.4 trillion cubic metres of water. Air pollution is one of the world’s most serious issues. It causes one in every 10 deaths worldwide, with the problem especially acute in cities. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 87 per cent of all urban areas have unhealthy air. Despite this alarming statistic, we can be cautiously optimistic about the future. In the past few years, a broad political consensus has emerged and governments across the world are now in agreement on the need for a solution. Later this year, London will introduce another congestion tax, called the T-charge, that will target older, emissions-heavy vehicles in the existing congestion charge area. If you build a new development in Singapore you have to replace the same amount of greenery that was used. Copenhagen is considering a car-free day each week. In Hamburg, bicycle lanes have been the recipient of major investment, while Milan has offered free public transport into the city to inhabitants who leave their cars behind. Mexico City, Paris, Madrid and Athens, meanwhile, have pledged to ban diesel vehicles by 2025. The Mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, even wants to ban all forms of motorised traffic. The effects of such measures are immediate. In the early 2000s, Rajshai in Bangladesh was the world’s most polluted city. After the city focused on building sidewalks and bike paths, and coating roads with dust-reducing surfaces, however, its carbon dioxide emissions have halved. Air quality has improved dramatically. Less conventional solutions have also proven effective. Since 2014, in Beijing, authorities have banned barbecues, with a special police unit tasked with ensuring that meat is only grilled indoors or inhabitants will face a fine. Although such measures might make us laugh, in the future China may come to be seen as a leading light in environmental protection. More than 300 green eco-cities have already been built in China, all of which have been designed to encourage clean air, environmental respect and sustainable lifestyles. �

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It’s clear that many of the world’s biggest cities face major challenges when it comes to air quality. What’s not clear is the best way to tackle the problem. Blueair investigates.

Text Martin Gelin




t’s a video clip you can’t easily forget – a fixed camera showing how the air above a highway in Beijing turns from blue to brown over the course of a few hours. In recent years this kind of nightmarish imagery of Beijing’s polluted air has become a recurring reminder of the air quality crisis in many of the world’s metropolises. In China, there has long been talk of an “airpocalypse”. According to a report last year from the Berkeley Center, 1.6 million Chinese people die each year from diseases directly linked to pollution, such as asthma, strokes, lung cancer and heart attacks. These account for more than 4,000 deaths a day. Health experts have compared breathing the air in Beijing with smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. According to Greenpeace, more than 90 per cent of major cities in China have air that is hazardous to health. However the situation in Beijing and other Chinese cities is not unique. In the majority of cities around the world the air is so polluted that it causes deaths as well as provoking health risks among their inhabitants. Although many of these cities have started to address these problems, the situation is not quickly solvable. In the United States, Los Angeles has long been the city with the worst air. As early as the 1940s, Los Angeles had such serious problems with smog and pollution that city residents were at one time convinced that they had been the victims of chemical warfare from Japan. But Los Angeles’s attempts

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to address the problems in the past half century are also encouraging. In a speech a few years ago, the then President Obama said, “You wouldn’t want your children growing up in Beijing right now, because they couldn’t breathe. But the truth is that that also used to be the case in Los Angeles, as late as 1970.” Even today, Los Angeles still has a huge problem. In the metropolitan area around the city, three million people live with asthma, diabetes and heart disease caused by smog and polluted air. The occurrence of asthma is twice as high as the national average. In California more people die from polluted air than from traffic accidents or crime.

Breathing the air in Beijing has been compared to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Since the 1970s, things have been slowly moving in the right direction. Local authorities and companies have jointly sought to improve the air in Los Angeles. A series of environmental regulations introduced in the 1970s are still in force today and have contributed to factories and cars in Los Angeles no longer poisoning the air to the same degree. Investments in

public transportation and a sharp increase in electric and hybrid cars have also helped improve air quality. According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, three factors have been particularly important. First, you need to invest in measuring pollution so residents can get an idea of the severity of the problem. Only then is there a collective willpower to do something about the problems. Second, local authorities and companies must work together to agree on regulations that limit emissions and pollution, without preventing businesses and the local economy from growing. Finally, you have to rely on private sector innovation, and California has always been a shining example – from the electric car company Tesla in Northern California, to the abundance of green tech companies around Silicon Beach in Los Angeles. But a more sustainable and longterm strategy is needed for the future. When Mayor Garcetti visited Beijing recently, he gave helpful advice on the path forward: “When you combine regulation with innovation, you get sustainable growth. Through investments in green energy not only can we start solving our pollution problems, but we can also create a new industry for climatefriendly companies that attract thousands of new jobs to the city. After all, air is the most democratic thing we have. So we all have a common responsibility to solve the urgent problems of air pollution in the world’s major cities.” ●

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ecoliving Whether in the bustling heart of Manhattan or on a tranquil Alpine slope, these hotels focus on sustainability and the environment.

Text Pontus Dahlman





Green room

Don’t just imagine drifting off to sleep high above the ground: that experience can be had in countless hotels around the world. Instead, imagine resting amidst sun-flecked branches, with birdsong all around. This, of course, is a tree house: the pinnacle of relaxing in the fresh air. A daydream, to be sure, but in some places it can actually come true. In a pine forest next to a river in Sweden’s northernmost landscape Norrbotten, you can choose from seven different “tree hotels” to check into. Each is equipped for comfortable living and designed by a different architect. Just take The Mirrorcube, whose walls are made from reflective mirror materials – talk about melting into the greenery! The Bird’s Nest also does this in its own way, with its “wall” of sprawling branches. The Treehotel, which is the name of this resort, is part of Britta’s Guesthouse. Here, wild game and other local ingredients are often on the menu as an extra ecological bonus. Where: Treehotel is part of Britta’s Guesthouse, situated in the village of Harads, between Luleå and Jokkmokk in north Sweden. Eco profile: Treehotel has been built so that the living trees are not damaged where the huts are attached. All seven rooms are ecologically conscious in terms of sanitation and building materials. Website: and

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The Cabin

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A taste of the country in the middle of New York, Crosby Street Hotel has a lush vegetable garden on its roof. It was the first hotel in town to receive gold certification for its environmental performance.


Where: On Crosby Street in the neighbourhood of SoHo, New York. Eco profile: The first hotel in the city to be awarded the LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. The rooftop garden supplies the hotel restaurant with tomatoes and other products, and also houses its own small henhouse. Website:

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Atlantic views on Fogo Island


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Whitepod’s rooms resemble modern hermit’s huts, spread across a steep hillside with breath-taking views of the Swiss Alps. Whitepod offers an original resort for the eco-conscious mountain tourist. Where: In the village of Les Cerniers in Switzerland. Nearest airport: Geneva. Eco profile: The huts’ energy consumption for heating and cooling is 30 per cent less than that of traditional buildings. The design saves building materials. Limited motor transport. Website:

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Resting on stilts on the weather-beaten rocks of the Canadian east coast, a few steps from the angry North Atlantic, Fogo Island Inn has made a virtue of isolation. Where: On Fogo Island, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Eco profile: The inn is run along thorough ecological principles, from the prioritisation of local suppliers, to the recycling of rainwater. Design: All 29 rooms offer “floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and sky”. The hotel’s architect, Todd Saunders, is local but has offices in Norway. Website:




By the beach and at the edge of the rainforest on the vast but sparsely populated island of Koh Kood, Soneva Kiri awaits. It is a luxurious resort for the eco-conscious tourist looking to unwind according to the resort’s motto: “No news, no shoes.” Where: On the Thai island of Koh Kood. Eco profile: Soneva Kiri uses an advanced, organic wastewater treatment method. The resort has its own biologist. Website:

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invisible allies Text Pontus



Diatoms are not only beautiful. These tiny living gems also help produce the oxygen we breathe.

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Diatoms are the microscopic world’s abstract artworks. Appearing in an infinite number of different geometrical shapes, diatoms are a type of algae found throughout the world’s oceans and rivers. Capable of attaching to different surfaces such as stone and sand, each diatom is more spectacularly shaped and versatile than the last. These single-celled organisms come in thousands of subtly different species, all of which are contained in a shell made of glittering silicon. These shells are usually diametrically symmetrical, a biological fact from which diatoms derive their name. But aesthetic beauty isn’t the main reason we should appreciate diatoms. These creatures greatly contribute to the amount of oxygen in our atmosphere, about half of which comes from the oceans. Diatoms may be natural works of art but they also play an essential role in creating the air we breathe. As Swedish algae researcher Angela Wulff said in her introductory address as professor of marine ecology at the University of Gothenburg, “Consider that the oxygen in every fourth breath you take comes from diatoms.” Wulff is one of the world’s experts in the field and she thinks that diatoms should be called the “jewels of the sea”. We agree that it’s a great nickname. ●

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Australian artist Emily Parsons-Lord works with an invisible medium to create art with oxygen.


the airtist Text

Pontus Dahlman


For a work entitled Different Kinds of Air, Parsons-Lord recreated air as it had been at different stages of the Earth’s history and then served it like shots in a bar.

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Although she doesn’t think of her work as activist art, Parsons-Lord wants to use her creativity to bring attention to an important issue that affects us all.

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Born in 1984 in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. Lives and works in Sydney. Specialises in using air as a material in her installations. Notable works include Different Kinds of Air A Plant’s Diary at the Proximity Festival, 2014, in which people were able to breathe “historical air”. On the air in Australia “Every time I step off a plane, I notice the smell of eucalyptus.”

“I suppose I like making something that seems so familiar, feel alien and surprising,” she says. “I hope it brings in to question other things that we accept as unchanging reality, like climate change.” One of Parsons-Lord’s most talked about artworks was Different Kinds of Air: A Plant’s Diary (2014). In this work she recreated the air from different stages of the Earth’s history and exhibited the samples in an installation where visitors could inhale from filled-up plastic bags, just like having a drink in a local bar. “It came from a lot of reading about how air had changed throughout the history of life,” says Parsons-Lord.

“I couldn’t help wondering what it would feel like to breathe different air. The chemistry in the air marks the earth and oceans, similar to how metals and rocks can oxidise. A lot is already known about the history of the air. I could essentially use the science as a recipe book, and get my gas supply company to remake the air and compress it in to cylinders.” How did your audience react?

“Some didn’t believe it was different until they tried breathing it. The performance led to the invitation to try ‘future air’, which is more of an ethical conversation about the traces that humans are leaving in the air.”


Do you want us to “wake up” and take better care of our air?

“I don’t think of my work as ‘activist art’, but I hope that it brings attention to some climate issues in a way that hasn’t been encountered before. Climate change looms, but is hard to detect in a single catastrophic event. It’s easier to continue checking your Instagram and pursuing your ambitions. Perhaps we would be making different decisions if the air were harder to breathe?”


We all have an idea of the typical materials used by an artist. Squeezed tubes of oil paint and maybe a lump of clay. But air? What could be made from that? In the hands of Australian artist Emily Parsons-Lord, air is fashioned into mind-blowing artworks. “Part of why I’m interested in air is because we are so familiar with it that we mostly forget it’s there,” says Parsons-Lord. “We notice it only when it’s different: when we might happen to be at altitude or in a polluted situation.” The complexity of air is one of the core themes in Parsons-Lord’s work. “Most people think of it as a single material, but I think of air as plural,” she says. “It is a mix of different gases, dust, bacteria, volatile chemicals, insects, and viruses. It is a complex and constantly changing space that has altered so much throughout the history of Earth that it has influenced how life has evolved.”

Emily ParsonsLord

What is the real advantage of using air as an artists’ material?

Parsons-Lords’ answer is direct, and almost disconcerting: “Air is a material that everybody knows intimately. It has physiological effects on the body and a visceral sensation on the inside as well as the outside. I love that my art literally gets inside the audience. I think that’s why I love invisible materials, because no matter how else you describe or represent it, you can only really understand the work by physically interacting with it.” ●

«Air is a mix of different gases, dust, bacteria, volatile chemicals, insects and viruses. It is a complex and constantly changing space that has altered so much throughout history.»

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up in the air From gentle gusts to fierce gales, the wind can drive us crazy or keep us entertained. Text Foto

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MĂĽrten NilĂŠhn Ellioth & Winther Film

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Air pressure is less at higher altitudes. On the top of Mount Everest, water will boil at 70⁰C.



Few things make us feel as alive as the wind. Imagine walking around a corner, when you are unexpectedly pushed back by a sudden gust. Or think about pedalling a bike with a strong tailwind, and how you can hear the tyres singing on the asphalt beneath you. The joy! But while the wind gives us energy, it can also do harm. In the most extreme cases, strong winds can cause devastation and misery. Even in more sedate examples. The mistral, for instance, sweeps down the Alps in a sustained howl that is said to drive people mad. Perhaps that’s unfair, however. The wind’s main task is to distribute the sun’s heat more evenly across the globe, but in doing this, it can be a somewhat mischievous playmate. Think of a child repeatedly trying to get their kite to fly, or an adult trying to stop a golf ball from blowing off a tee. Or for that matter, think of the Norwegian skydiver and base jumper Jokke Sommer, who is more intimately acquainted with the wind than most. Every time he plunges off a precipice in his wingsuit, it rushes up to greet him. Are you ever afraid?

“Yeah, I’m scared every time. But it’s a pleasant fear. You feel like you’re in control of the situation. It’s not like driving a car where someone else can cause problems for you. There is a fear that makes you focused. As soon as I’ve jumped out and reached the point of no return, then the only thing that’s comfortable is to just spread your wings and fly.”



The first attempt to fly with a wingsuit was by Frenchman Franz Reichelt, 33, who jumped off the Eiffel Tower in 1912 to an instantaneous death. Sometimes you can see a jet stream with the naked eye, silhouetted in the sky like a condensation line. In order to be called a jet stream, the air must be travelling at a speed of at least 100km per hour. When we talk about the wind “strength”, we mean its power. This increases by the wind speed squared. So, a storm wind travelling at 28m per second is therefore four times stronger than a gale wind that travels at 14m per second.

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A Blueair purifier can clean the air in a medium-sized room five times in an hour.


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an eye for detail Photo Bohman

& Sjöstrand Ogonowski


Set design Alexandra


Smart on the inside – and beautiful on the outside. Blueair leads the way in design and technical innovation. Ever since it was founded over 20 years ago in Stockholm, Blueair has been driven to provide people with air that’s as pure as nature intended. With constant updates and innovations in its air purifiers, Blueair is an industry leader with products in more than 60 countries. From private homes to restaurants, hotels and public buildings, Blueair has millions of satisfied users. A major breakthrough came two years ago, however, when the US Embassy in New Delhi bought 1,800 air purifiers. Since then, cooperation with the US government has intensified and Blueair has delivered air purifiers to US officials in Vietnam, Bangladesh and China.

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“Our mission only becomes more important in line with increasing environmental problems,” says Daniel Bergqvist, digital marketing director at Blueair. “Many serious diseases such as cancer, dementia and heart problems can be directly traced to bad air.” One of the most discussed and successful innovations to have come from Blueair’s laboratory is the HEPASilent Technology, which cleans 99.97 per cent of airborne particles down to 0.1 micron in size. “It’s an amazing breakthrough, but besides the obvious health concerns, there are also a range of everyday benefits to clean air. We become more alert, it’s easier to

concentrate and you can just get more done,” says Bergqvist. A combination of stylish design and innovative patented technology has established Blueair as the leading premium air purifier brand in the world, while its commitment to continued innovation has further secured its position. Via the app Blueair Friend you can control your air purifier, but you can also order new filters or, for example, get readings of air quality in cities all around the world. “Our products are the base of operations, but we are also driven by a number of air issues in a broader context, in order to have the opportunity to help make a difference.” ●

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A unique function of Blue by Blueair is that it draws in air on all sides. This means it works effectively no matter where it stands in the room. In the background: Blueair Classic.


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The elegant and whisper-quiet Blueair Pro L is ideal for improving the air in large spaces.

ÂŤOur mission only becomes more important in line with increasing environmental problems.Âť

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Blueair Sense+ is the heart of Blueair’s intelligent air-cleaning system. Connect it to Wi-Fi and you can have full control over the air in your home using the Blueair Friend app. You can also measure the air quality with Blueair Aware.



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2017-06-02 11:31


man on a mission

Interview Text Martin

Gelin Photo Martin Adolfsson

Today, Magnus LundstrÜm is a celebrated designer in New York City but 20 years ago a conversation with Blueair’s founder inspired a decadelong quest to create an elegant but functional product.

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Magnus Lundström takes a pure, unadorned approach to design, whether working on kitchenwares or air purifiers.

Magnus Lundström

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go. One moment you’ll be edgy and the next, gone. We wanted to make a product that would survive the cycles.” Blueair’s air purifiers have won many international awards, and have been sold to over 60 countries around the world. Lundström believes that it is their pure, unadorned design that appeals to customers. “Many of our competitors only made giant plastic boxes that were ugly,” he says. “We concluded that if we made an air purifier out of bent sheet metal, it becomes a smaller product that is also incredibly durable and longlasting. About 70 per cent of all the metal is recycled, which is a much higher figure than for plastic. Here in New York we can see how people just put old plastic products out on the sidewalk when they don’t work any more. Then they end up in mountains of rubbish or in the sea. I think it has to be possible to take responsibility for our consumption



Sitting in his studio in an industrial part of Brooklyn, New York, designer Magnus Lundström is painting a walnut peppermill. Around us we can see the new Brooklyn arising. Gigantic steel-and-glass skyscrapers dominated the skyline, with further evidence of gentrification in the form of luxury restaurants and microbreweries. Around Lundström’s studio, however, small artisanal workshops still line the streets. He’s been here for three years, primarily making kitchen products, which started as a hobby until food writer Ruth Reichl included his peppermills in Gourmet and he was inundated with orders. The prestigious Cooper Hewitt design museum has even exhibited a mortar he created. In spite of this success, Lundström spends much of his time on a greater vision: helping people breathe. For 20 years he’s worked with Blueair, for whom he developed one of the world’s most popular and effective purifiers. It was Blueair’s founder, Bengt Rittri, who commissioned Lundström to develop the shape of the new purifier: ”The goal was to create a product that combines elegance with function,” he says. “It was to be elegant without being trendy. Because trends come and

With extensive experience designing best-selling items for companies including Electrolux, IKEA and Blueair, Swedish-born Magnus Lundström now creates his own line of products for the home that he sells through his store in Union Square, New York.

so we don’t poison the earth.”Which, of course, is a global problem. “Something has to be done. There are cities in the world where the smog levels sometimes are up to 40 times higher than recommended. Especially alarming when many of those who die from pollution are children.” According to the World Health Organization, purifiers are likely to have saved lives. In 2013, the US was so alarmed by the air quality at their embassy in Beijing that they invested in thousands of Blueair purifiers. The French, Dutch and Finnish embassies have also ordered Blueair purifiers. Is there a solution? A pioneer such as Magnus is proud to take inspiration from Tesla which produces electric cars and batteries. “That’s just where we have to go,” he says. “We need to scale back our entire consumption so we don’t poison the earth. The faster we do it, the more successful we can be.” ●

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every breath you take We know why we breathe. And we care about what we breathe. Now it’s time to give some thought to how we breathe.

Niklas Wahllöf Illustration Valero Doval Text

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We all need to breathe, but it’s such a natural thing that we tend not to think about it. However, we have recently become alarmed by what we breathe. As the effects of environmental degradation manifest around the globe, maintaining good air quality is a constant concern. We are also increasingly interested in how we breathe. As it turns out, quite a few

of us breathe in ways that make our lives unnecessarily difficult and which may even make us sick. According to a 2016 article in Harvard Health Publications, the fight or flight response – an ancient reflex in situations of real or perceived danger – can still be triggered in modern human beings. But rather than being triggered by predators on the savannah, we now

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«Controlled breathing is extremely useful for dealing with various symptoms of stress - it is meditation for people who can’t meditate.»

receive stress stimuli in the form of distress and agitation caused by concern for our work or social status, financial or relational problems, as well as pressure and crowding. The breathing that comes with this is rapid and shallow: “collarbone breathing”. In its most extreme manifestation, it barely lets air enter the lungs before it is exhaled again. Collarbone breathing creates a state of constant readiness and provides inadequate oxygenation of the lungs. As a consequence, the chances of relaxation and recovery are dramatically reduced, while more serious effects include increased blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Meanwhile, so-called “chest breathing” – where the muscles between the ribs, rather than the diaphragm, are used to expand the chest – is more common

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than collarbone breathing, but also provides too little oxygen. The Harvard Health Publications article suggests that the beauty ideals of our time may be one cause of our impaired breathing. The ideal of a flat belly makes us constantly pull in our abdominal muscles, which negatively affects breathing and does not provide enough oxygen to the lower parts of the lungs. According to the research, this alone may cause anxiety. We don’t do enough deep breathing today, and this is a downward spiral: stress makes us breathe incorrectly, which in turn makes us feel worse and more stressed. The good news is that you can do something. Breathing is one of the life-sustaining body functions that we can control ourselves. “Close your mouth!” advises respiratory instructor Anders Olsson. Keeping one’s mouth closed is the first

step to controlled, conscious breathing. Olsson has worked with conscious breathing for almost a decade, leading courses, giving lectures, and providing coaching on the topic. He first came into contact with the concept when he left a high-performance life as an IT contractor. In spite of achieving success and earning good money in this profession, he says he often felt “if not burned out, then at least burnt”. Olsson subsequently began practising proper breathing and realised that it was by far the most powerful technique for recovery that he had encountered. “To begin with, breathing through the nose leads to direct breathing that is smoother and quieter, and therefore deeper. I have run a half marathon with duct tape on my mouth to demonstrate this,” says Olsson. “The nose is definitely one of our most underrated organ,” he continues. “It filters many of the billions of particles we ingest daily. It also warms, moistens and prepares the air for the lungs. By contrast, the air we breathe through our mouths is dry, cold and unfiltered.” Breathing awareness is not entirely new – just a little forgotten. As early as around BCE 500, Siddhartha Gautama – or Buddha, more commonly – is said to have argued that enlightenment could only be reached through controlled breathing. And in numerous languages, countless colloquial terms describe the way we breathe as being central to taking control of pressured situations: “Catch your breath”, “Take a deep breath”, “Just breathe.” Although certain forms of exercise

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1 Close your mouth! Breathing through your nose is essential.



involving breathing awareness are becoming more common today – note the massive popularity of yoga and qigong – we still seem to have a problem. Olsson wants to demystify the subject. “The fact that yoga and qigong have become popular in the West does not mean that proper breathing has followed,” Olsson says. “I’ve had many people in my classes with yoga experience who believed they had a good breathing technique. Even opera singers, athletes, and freedivers can have good breathing technique during an exercise, but breathing in a certain way for a certain exercise is not the same as proper breathing in daily life. A thousand breaths per hour is what I work towards.” Once Olsson began to study the topic in depth, he saw that it primarily attracted two disparate camps: strict

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medical scientists interested in breathing’s effects on the blood, and those who breathe “to feel the sun and moon.” But breathing might currently be on its way to a new status, reflected not least in the popular scientific field. In a feature leading up to the 2016 publication of Breathe by psychologist Belisa Vranich, The New York Times argued that “controlled breathing is extremely useful for dealing with various symptoms of stress.” Speaking to The New York Times, Vranich said: “It is meditation for people who can’t meditate.” “Everything we do, our mental or physical stress, is always reflected in our breath,” says Olsson. “The most common thing I hear people say after starting training in breathing is that they get better sleep, more energy, and a calmer mind.” ●


Extend exhalation. Exhaling is linked to relaxation, like breathing out when the danger is over – phew! Our heart-rate increases when we inhale and decreases when we exhale. Take a conscious breath by lengthening the exhalation: you will slow down your tempo, and fill the lower parts of your lungs.

3 Try to exercise – running, for example – with your mouth closed. You will breathe more evenly and this will give you more energy and a feeling of balance.

4 If you want, you can try to tape your mouth at night. It sounds strange but it works wonders. When we breathe through our mouths, we can begin to hyperventilate and deprive the body of oxygen and vital recovery.

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deep blue Text Niklas




Swedish freediver Annelie Pompe has set records by reaching new depths without the aid of oxygen tanks and believes that humans are designed to spend time in the sea.

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Once, when Annelie Pompe was very young, she was lying on a lilo in the Mediterranean looking down into the water through a diving mask. She could not swim but far below her on the bottom of the sea lay a plastic model car she wanted. So she jumped in and took it. She had made her first freedive. Thirty years later Pompe has freedived in all the Earth’s oceans and holds a world record of 126 metres deep in one dive. She also holds courses, lectures, writes, and takes photographs. And when she is not doing any of these things, she is surfing. The ocean is her second home. “I’ve always liked life in the water,” says Pompe when we meet at her houseboat in the Gothenburg archipelago in Sweden. “It’s beautiful under the surface, but also simple: the weightlessness, the peace, the silence. It’s a completely different world,” she says. “Or several different worlds, each different. The ocean itself has different depths: there is a zone down to five metres, another for perhaps 10 to 20 metres, and so on.” Pompe grew up around diving. Her father was first a scuba diver and then a freediver. Her family was often in or near the ocean. But Pompe believes that longing to be under the surface is natural for most people. “We are made to be in the water,” she says. “We have ancient features in our bodies that still

condition us for life in the water: as soon as you start holding your breath, for example, your pulse goes down, and the spleen emits red blood cells. There are scholars who argue that we were once beach apes who hunted shellfish and other marine animals because it was easier than chasing an antelope on land.” Our features inherited from an existence entirely or partially in the water can easily be trained and improved. Pompe can now hold her breath for up to six minutes and bring her heart rate down to 20 beats per minute (the normal resting heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute). But it was not always so. “I worked my lung capacity up from 3.8 to 5.5 litres in six months,” Pompe explains. “Everyone can learn. After 20 minutes of exercises in the freediving courses I teach, almost everyone can hold their breath for three to four minutes. You form a different relationship with your breathing when you start holding your breath. It’s very exciting.” To those who think that freediving is scary or perhaps even dangerous because divers swim so far below the surface without assistance, Pompe says that scuba diving is more dangerous – if you tangle your equipment, she explains, you are done for. Freediving, by contrast, is all about getting to know your body and trusting yourself. It makes you mentally strong and even provides great benefits in everyday life. “You learn to control your thoughts, to be calm and focused,” Pompe says. “The calmer you are, the deeper you can go. It should be understood that this requires a good physique, which you also benefit from.” Looking at Pompe’s life, it is clear that excellent physical fitness is central and not only

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Pompe dives with only the air in her lungs.

Annelie Pompe in relation to diving. If Pompe’s second home is the ocean, the mountains are her third. In 2011 she was the first Swedish woman to reach the top of Mount Everest from the north side. Since then, Pompe has climbed several of the world’s most extreme summits. Total focus, control, and commitment are necessary in order to achieve these feats. Pompe says she sees similarities between the depths of the ocean and mountain peaks: total serenity, silence, and a feeling of being at one with the surroundings. Both diving and mountaineering have made Pompe aware of environmental pollution. As a maritime ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), she witnesses climate change from beneath the surface. “It is the finest assignment I have received, and also the most important,” says Pompe. “The situation is critical now, but it is not too late. What is interesting is that the environmental issue is creating new opportunities for cooperation between nations that may not have cooperated very much before. They share the ocean, and the ocean makes the similarities clear.” ●

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«You learn to control your thoughts, to be calm and focused. The calmer you are, the deeper you go.»

Born: 1981. Brief history: Born near Gothenburg. Developed an early love of nature, especially for the ocean and mountains. Started climbing and freediving and continued until she could boast of having been on the highest (Mount Everest) and the deepest points in the world, by freediving to 126m in one breath. Does: Free diving, climbing, surfing, photographs, and writing; she is also an offshore ambassador for WWF, a personal trainer, freediving instructor, and lecturer. Lives: On a houseboat at Öckerö in the Gothenburg archipelago or travelling anywhere around the world. Role models: Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, Cecilia Duberg. Favourite places: Gothenburg archipelago, Nepal and Bali.

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It’s estimated that almost 30 per cent of people in industrialised countries are allergic to pollen, with urban areas hit the hardest despite their lack of vegetation. 49

Blanca Sjöstedt Photo Lennart Nilsson/TT NYHETSBYRÅN Text

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A grain of pollen captured by Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson who became famous for his macro images.

From the early 1970s to the present day there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from allergy attacks. Åslög Dahl, a researcher in the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Biology and Environmental Science, explains why. “The hypothesis is based on our decreasing tolerance to pollen,” says Dahl. “Children develop their immune system in symbiosis with bacteria in the digestive tract during their first four years of life. To become resistant, bacteria must be able to thrive and form a good chemical environment within the gut. This is more difficult for children who grow up in very clean environments.” Air pollution also affects the tendency to be allergic to pollen. A study conducted in 2010 revealed that the demand for antihistamines (medicine for allergies) escalated when allergenic pollen existed in connection with unclean air. “Ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particles can cause inflammation of the bronchi, increasing sensitivity to external influences,” explains Dahl. “We have seen that diesel particles damage the walls of the lungs, allowing allergens to get in.” How will pollen allergies develop in the future?

“I imagine that this development will soon reach a ceiling, or that perhaps it already has. I also believe that the situation will soon look very different. Climate change will lead to new types of vegetation and pollen – and no one can say how this will affect allergies.” ●

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No other air purifier has won as many design prizes as the Blueair Sense. We meet the trio of designers behind it to talk about sustainability, the environment, and what the future holds. Anders Bergmark Photo Karl Nordlund & Philip Karlberg Text


the airmakers Three men and a purifier. From left: MĂĽrten Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ola Rune.

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51 Claesson Koivisto Rune


…its award-winning air purifier Blueair Sense.


Claesson Koivisto Rune is a Swedish partnership founded in Stockholm in 1995. Started as an architectual firm, it has since become a multi-disciplinary practice working with buildings, hotels, offices, textiles, furniture, electronics – and even sweets.


MÅRTEN CLAESSON: When we looked at what was already on the market, they mostly looked like old PC towers from the 90s – something you’d want to hide away rather than show off in your bedroom. We thought it should be shown off as an air purifier, so why not design it with the same care as a beautiful piece of furniture? OLA RUNE: Blueair Sense was launched at a major trade show in Chicago, and there were some comments that the design did not enhance the performance. The funny thing was that it only took a few hours before the sellers came in and reported that no one was asking about the performance. Of all the products we’ve designed, Blueair Sense has won the most awards.

…sustainable design. RUNE: I think products that have such a high quality that you want to maintain and preserve them for as long as possible can withstand changes in fashion. Blueair Sense is a good example. Seven years is a really long time in the electronics world. If you take almost any other product that’s seven years old, it looks like something from a past era. CLAESSON: Architecture is much more durable than product design, just by its nature – it takes longer to make and it has to last longer. We are architects and we try to think the same way when we work with design. Most of our

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products end up in constructed environments and have to interact with the room, so it has a lot to do with being a little toned down. They’re not the garishly dressed solo artist standing in the spotlight and screaming while the other musicians are in the shadow. It’s more about harmonising and creating an amazing tune instead. …environmental role models.



EERO KOIVISTO: Swedish furniture brand Offecct is a good example – there’s not a single gadget or package in that entire company that you don’t know where it’s going. The company also has a service where you can turn in your furniture to get it reupholstered and you can return used furniture, which the company then resells. Another example is the Finnish furniture brand Nikari, which has its own hydroelectric plants that supply the factory with electricity. The excess energy is sold back to the community.

… how design can contribute to making a better environment. KOIVISTO: By making a design that requires less resources and less material. Designs made by people who have spent a hundred thousand hours to make something – which is what is required for it to be good – always contribute to a better environment. CLAESSON: Maintaining something always reduces your impact on the environment, compared to just replacing it. The pursuit of quality is our contribution to a better world.

… worst environmental experience. KOIVISTO: It has to be certain discount stores.

I hate it when something is poorly thoughtout and poor quality. I’ve been in cities where the air is bad and the water tastes terrible, but that’s what happens when the designed environment doesn’t leave room for people. … best air memory. RUNE: The coolest thing I’ve been through was when I was getting my diving certificate and took my first breath underwater. I’ll never forget it. Hearing your breath and breathing in an environment where it shouldn’t really be possible was crazy. And magical.

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…how they contribute to a better environment. KOIVISTO: I don’t have a car because I think it’s immoral. I take public transportation instead and I am trying to eat less meat. Everyone can do something to improve the situation. RUNE: I return empty glass bottles. I even started buying milk in those glass bottles in my local grocery store that can be reused. But I also fly across the globe several times a year. So, technically, I’m guilty. CLAESSON: We have to remember that we’re part of a world that is being built and developed all the time, and someone has to decide which direction all this building will take. If we have the aptitude and experience for it, the best thing we can do for the world is to do our job as best we can. If we get a building to stand for 10 more years, that’s an environmental saving that far exceeds the negative impact of air travel.

…what the world’s major cities will look like in 20 years’ time. CLAESSON: There is an electric revolution that is developing rapidly, and it will make a big difference for the problem of air pollution. Another thing that will be very important is e-commerce. Until now, stores have dominated the cityscape but soon many of them will not be needed. But I don’t know what comes after that. People will continue to be drawn to cities and that’s something positive. Per capita, a city is much more environmentally friendly than the countryside.

…whether it is possible to reverse the negative environmental impacts. EERO: Of course it is. But it won’t be so much about how some people in the West live, as how the people in the third world who don’t have money will live when they do get money. RUNE: I don’t think so. Not until it has gone so far that the effects are no longer foreseeable. CLAESSON: I’m a little more optimistic, actually. I think there’s a tipping point in the works, as alternative energy production and use has become so profitable that it’s competing with fossil fuels. I’m thinking, for example, of solar energy and electric transport and cars. People are creative when they really need to be. ●

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And the winner is! Blueair Sense has won numerous awards: Good Design Award, 2012. Design S, Swedish Design Award, Nominee, 2012. Good Design Award, Japan 2012. Red Dot Award – Best of the Best, Germany, 2013. Designpreis Deutschland, Special Mention, 2014.

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Eve ry




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Know your air quality.


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How is the quality of the air you breathe each day? Blueair Aware detects airborne particles, volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, and other pollutants, and measures the temperature and humidity. It can then send the information to your smartphone.


Check the air quality on your mobile.

Photo Bohman

+ SjĂśstrand Ogonowski

Set design Alexandra

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ALWAYS BE AWARE Whether at home or away, Blueair Aware keeps you connected and sends real-time air quality updates to your phone. hundreds of different gases, such as formaldehyde and benzene. The monitor also responds to human breath, and measures the room temperature and humidity.” How does Bluair Aware work with air purifiers?

“You can link it to our connected air purifiers using the app. If it senses that the air quality has deteriorated, it automatically increases the rate of purification. Some of our air purifiers have Blueair Aware sensors built in.”

“Via the colour indicator on the product. Blue light means the air quality is good, orange light means it’s bad. In the Blueair Friend app, you can get more information and learn to understand your air.” How do you learn about it?

“You can see figures for gas concentrations in a real-time graph of air quality in the past month, and receive alerts that let you know when air quality has gotten worse. Plus you get tips on how you can improve your air. You can also see the quality of the air outdoors.” Holmgren adds that because Blueair Aware can communicate with other products through the cloud, multiple other possibilities are opened up: “It allows our users to connect Blueair Aware and our connected air purifiers to other smart products and create new applications.” ●



Full control of the air in your home, wherever you are in the world – that’s what Blueair Aware enables. With this smart technology you can monitor the quality of the air you’re breathing everyday. Linnéa Holmgren, Connectivity product manager at Blueair, explains how it works: “There’s a monitor connected to digital sensors that measure different components in the air. It measures the concentration of small particles, and the rate of

How can users see their air quality?



Blueair Friend is an app that makes a real difference to everyday life. It not only lets you check the air quality in your immediate environment but also access data for various cities around the world. Best of all, you can use it to remotely control your Wi-Fi-compatible air purifiers. It’s as easy as using a TV remote control.

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Nine out of ten people in the world live in – and breathe in – polluted air. According to the World Health Organization, it’s the world’s single biggest health threat. But we don’t have to accept this. That’s why Blueair is driving the issue forward and calling for a World Air Day. Sign the petition at to help change the future.


As many as 40 per cent of school children in the city of New Delhi have reduced lung capacity. To help change this, Blueair has started the Clean Air India Movement, initially donating 200 air purifiers that will help to make life better for 10,000 school children throughout the Indian capital.

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Raised in China but based in Sweden, Bingbing Shi dreams of a world with better, cleaner air. “I invest all my energy in this, and feel that I can make a difference.”

56 Bingbing Shi


Age: 33 Born: China. Lives: Stockholm, Sweden. Profession: Senior Air Filtration Specialist at Blueair. Air memory: “I have my best air experience every time I come back to Sweden from China. I hope everyone can breathe the same clean air one day.”

THE AIR WE BREATHE Text Pontus Dahlman Photo Karl Nordlund

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Why is it important to capture pollutants?

“If indoor air is polluted, morbidity and mortality of repository diseases can rise. And, more importantly when it comes to China, over the past 30 years air pollutants have caused a big increase in lung cancer.” “In the city centre for instance,” Shi

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continues, “you have lots of emissions from traffic. So buildings and automobiles need both a ventilation system to curb pollution from outdoor air, and also an air purifier to bring pollution levels down to a safe level.” What about indoor sources of pollution?

“There are indoor sources of pollution such as smoking and cooking, but also some cheap furniture, which releases dangerous gases from paint and glue.” The worst risk comes from the very smallest particles, often called ultra-fine particles or nanoparticles. “They can get into our respiratory tract,” says Shi, “and reach alveolus cells, enter our blood circulation and even reach our brains.” According to Shi, small particles aren’t the only problem. “There are also larger particles that present a danger, such as pollen.” Later, as we inspect the extensive series of air purifiers in the Blueair showroom, Shi tells me about one of her personal interests in the future: the way influenza spreads indoors, how it is caught, and how people can be kept safe from it in a virus-filled environment such as a hospital. Already today you can chose an air purifier from Blueair that eliminates colds and viruses from the air, but Bingbing is researching even finer methods. “When you cough,” she explains, “many very small liquid droplets spread into the air. The challenge for our products is to capture them – and thus the virus – before they evaporate. And I actually think that it could be figured out.” ●



THE PERFECT DIGITAL AIR SERVICE. How pure is the air where you work or live? Does it seem good or bad? Thankfully, Blueair’s innovative digital service Air View, lets you quickly get whatever information you need. All you have to do is enter your location’s address and you immediately get a street view marking which air pollutants flourish in that area. Are there dust particles in the air? Is there road debris? Heavy metals? Is it pollen season? “Most cities have measurement stations and we pull their data into our system and make use of it,” says Daniel Bergqvist, digital marketing director at Blueair. “In the near future we hope that the algorithms can become more precise and even process things like weather and traffic.” In addition, another great service is the Air Quality Index, which provides a summary of the data and a guide on how to use it. It’s a great, highly intuitive tool, especially for allergy sufferers, asthmatics and other at-risk groups. “A smart thing is if you click on the data that highlights pollutants in the air, information boxes pop up so you can learn more,” says Bergqvist. “One of our main tasks is to raise awareness about air pollution. For many companies clean air is a critical business issue. Air View is an easy way to keep updated.” Want to know more? Visit


The sky. The air. The future. These are the concerns of Bingbing Shi, a senior air filtration specialist at Blueair. Sat in the company’s building overlooking one of Stockholm’s largest parks, Shi talks about her mission. It’s an undertaking that affects everyone, all of the time: the purification of the air we breathe. “I believe it’s worthwhile,” she says without a blink, “to invest all my energy in this field because it can help people across the world.” Shi committed to this calling having grown up in a mid-sized city in central China. “When I was a child, the air was quite good,” she explains, “but over time it became more and more polluted. By providing people with the technology to make their air cleaner, I feel I can make a real difference.” After starting her academic study on aerosol science and indoor quality in China, Shi continued her studies in Sweden. She holds a doctorate in Building Services Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, where she was part of a research group. “In China I collected many types of particle and searched for the sources of pollution,” recounts Shi, “trying to find out what emits the most airborne particles in the indoor environment. In Sweden, I have continued my interests on air filtration and air pollutants transmission and control in buildings.”

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Blueair’s HEPASilent Technology catches the most hazardous particles down to 0.1 micron.

THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MATTER MOST Big advances in filter technology catch even the smallest irritants. 58


Sometimes, the shrewdest things can also be the most simple. Take the HEPASilent Technology*, Blueair’s patented filtration system, which radically improves the quality of indoor air. “First, the air is sucked in and the contaminant particles receive an electric charge,” says Johan Wennerström, technical and innovation director at Blueair. “In step two, the particles are separated in a filter. Larger particles like dust adhere directly, but small particles are also caught, because the electrical charge means they get drawn in and trapped in the filter.” For those who aren’t technically minded, Wennerström offers a handy analogy: “It’s like when you rub a balloon against your hair and charge it with static electricity. It will then stick to a wall.” In the filter, this static charge is about something more than party games, however. “Out comes much cleaner air: the level of efficiency is 99.97 per cent. If you have asthma or suffer from allergies, you may notice a big improvement. And in China’s polluted cities, for example, a room air purifier is a must.” But breathing easy isn’t the only benefit of an air purifier with the HEPASilent Technology. As the name suggests. “It requires less fan power and is therefore quieter. And that’s definitely good when you’re sleeping.” ●


HEPASilent Technology removes 99.97% of all particles.

* Blueair’s HEPASilent Technology captures 99.97% of all airborne particles down to 0,1 micron in size. Photo Bohman

+ Sjöstrand

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The number of times Blueair has sued electronics company Apple. The dispute concerned the right to use the name of one of Blueair’s air purifiers: Airpod. It all came down to a settlement.

360 13

Online service Air View allows users to track the pollution situation in a 360-degree street view. Just enter the Blueair’s headquarters address and figures are shown are on the 13th and 14th on the screen in real time. floor of an office complex Free at in Stockholm. The view of the inner-city’s green outskirts is breathtaking.


Number of countries where Blueair is now represented. Among them: China, Japan, India and Sweden, where the company is headquartered. Latest addition: Dubai.


50 410 5

The number of air purifiers Blueair has donated to the Children’s Hospital of Shanghai and to the Peking University First Hospital.

Weight in grams of Blueair Aware which can monitor your air quality.

20 YEARS WITH BLUEAIR Blueair AB is formed in Stockholm by Bengt 1996 Rittri who previously worked at Electrolux. His motto: “Clean air is a human right.”

Blueair’s air purifier qualifies for the 2004 US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

Blueair introduces its original air purifier, the 1997 Blueair 401. It’s intended for use in places such as hospitals and medical clinics.

Blueair receives the prestigious Excellent 1999 Swedish Design Award for the Blueair 401 air purifier, which is now in the collection of the Swedish National Museum.

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Size of particles, down to the metric micrometre, that Blueair’s HEPASilent Technology can capture.

Number of items that the blog said “you should absolutely have in your home in 2016”. One of these must-haves: the Blueair Sense+ air purifier.

Blueair ECO10 is launched and becomes 2007 the world’s most energy-efficient air purifier according to the US Environmental Protection Agency standards. The Consumer Council

2012 of Shanghai




To get the most from your air purifier, a filter change every six months is recommended.


Crew members on the Artemis Racing team will participate in the America’s Cup in June 2017. Blueair is providing them with the Pro XL air purifier for their gym in Barbados.

declares Blueair manufactures “the best air purifiers”.

Launch of Air View

2017 and a petition for a World Air Day. Wins the German

2015 Good Design award for Blueair Sense+. Blueair entered the

2014 Internet of things era

via the air purifier Blueair Sense+, app Blueair Friend and the air quality meter Blueair Aware.

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Blueair Life  
Blueair Life