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Sharp debuts mosquito-catching air purifier

The Japanese appliance maker hopes to help tackle two major problems Southeast Asians are struggling against -- polluted air and mosquitoes.

The Sharp FP-FM040E-B cleans the air while catching pesky mosquitoes. Aloysius Low/CNET

Mosquitoes are pesky insects in most western countries, but in tropical areas they're a legitimate threat to public health. Now, Japanese appliance maker Sharp has a new device to help Southeast Asia tackle its mosquito problem -- an air purifier that also catches the bloodsucking insects.

The Sharp FP-FM40E-B may not have the catchiest of names, but the company claims it's the first of its kind in the world. Besides purifying indoor air with its HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) filter, which is capable of trapping dangerous air particles as small as 2.5 microns, the device also has a cleverly designed glue trap that uses UV light to attract and ensnare mosquitoes.

Lab tests conducted in partnership with Malaysia's Institute of Medical Research showed that the air purifier was able to reduce the population of 200 female mosquito in a simulated home environment by up to 91 percent for the Culex (household mosquito) as well as the smarter, dengue fever-causing Aedes mosquito by 73 percent. As an added bonus, they were also able to trap and kill up to 73 percent of houseflies.

The insects are incredibly troublesome to citizens in tropical regions, particularly Africa and Southeast Asia -- last year an EB Medicine report said that over 700 million people are infected with mosquito-borne illnesses each year, leading to over a million deaths. It doesn't just effect tropical areas either, with diseases inevitably spreading into other countries through tourism.

The filter also comes at a time where Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are experiencing a severe pollution haze, the cause of which is massive forest fires throughout the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Besides being able to catch insects and purify air, Sharp has also added plasmacluster ion technology into the filter, which it says will inhibit the growth of mold -- an issue in the region due to its high levels of humidity.

The Sharp FP-FM40E-B will be sold in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. In Singapore, it'll fetch S$459 ($320) with replacement pack of three glue traps costing S$19 ($13). There are currently no plans to sell the purifier elsewhere, though Sharp is considering other tropical markets that could have use for the device.