Air purifiers can help asthmatics and allergy sufferers breathe cleaner air, as well as reduce the spread of germs which cause diseases like colds and flu.
Air cleaners can capture particles like dust, smoke and pollen but do not detect gases such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from paints or cleaning products and radon.
What Is An Air Purifier?
Air purifiers remove allergens, pollutants and pathogens from your home’s air supply. These invisible pollutants include smoke, mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, bacteria and viruses. The process is designed to give you clean air so your lungs and immune system can function more effectively.
Air pollutants are known to contribute to health issues, including headaches, dizziness, respiratory issues and possibly heart disease. Some contaminants, like carbon monoxide and radon can even be life-threatening. Air purifiers can remove such contaminants through advanced air cleansing technologies and filtering processes in your home environment.
Air purifiers are often made up of multiple filters designed to capture allergens and pollutants from your home’s air, often made of paper, fiberglass or a layer of several materials. Once cleaned air has passed through these filters, it is then circulated back into the room through air vents or outlets.
Some of the most effective air purifiers feature High Efficiency Particulate Air filters (HEPA). HEPA filters can effectively capture particles down to 0.3 microns in size. Large particulates are captured via impaction; where large particulates crash into filter fibers, while smaller ones zig-zag through until hitting and sticking onto fibers.
Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). CADR ratings measure how quickly an air purifier can clean air in a given size room. You should aim to find one with CADR ratings that can do it within minutes.
Some air purifiers also utilize alternative means to purify the air, such as emitting negative ions or ultraviolet light, rather than solely relying on filters for cleaning purposes. Unfortunately, such appliances tend to be less effective at eliminating pollutants from the atmosphere, and may need more frequent filter maintenance or replacements than their counterparts.
Air purifiers are an invaluable asset to those suffering from allergies or respiratory ailments, reducing symptoms while simultaneously improving air quality. If your household includes someone living with asthma, be sure to purchase an air purifier endorsed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America with an “asthma & allergy friendly” mark for assurance that its performance has been independently tested to significantly reduce asthmatic or allergy sufferer symptoms.
What Do They Do?
Air cleaners use filters to trap dust, pollen, dander, pet hair, mold spores and volatile organic compounds from entering living spaces. Many models come equipped with fans that draw air through these filters before discharging it back into living spaces. Alternatively, some purifiers employ electrical attraction instead of mechanical filtration: electrostatic precipitating cleaners/electret filters/negative ion generators can work alongside traditional filters, or used alone as standalone purifiers.
Many people turn to air purifiers in order to combat allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma. Allergies can cause sleep-disrupting symptoms like sneezing and itching, leading to rashes or asthma attacks. Air purifiers which target allergens help decrease these reactions for better restful nights.
Air contaminants such as secondhand smoke are also harmful to a person’s health. While second-hand smoke exposure may lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults, children’s sensitive lungs are even more prone to tobacco or other types of smoke’s negative impacts. Purifiers equipped with activated carbon filters can remove these chemical contaminants and lower risk exposure over time.
Some air purifiers also employ UV light technology to destroy germs such as bacteria and viruses, providing another means of protection for families looking to limit exposure. They may be useful in providing some limited exposure. However they won’t replace a good cleaning routine or other forms of sanitation.
When shopping for air purifiers it is essential to pay attention to their HEPA and CADR ratings that demonstrate how effectively it filters particles. Find one with a high CADR rating for smoke and an authentic HEPA seal so it captures particles down to 0.3 micron size, which are the most damaging for human lungs, as these small particles penetrate further into their tissues causing serious irritation. When selecting an air purifier, its HEPA rating will provide information to indicate how effectively its filter captures small particles.
Air purifiers should utilize HEPA filters, designed to capture various-sized particles from the air. You may also find models equipped with pre-filters for larger, heavier contaminants or an activated carbon filter for odor control, while others produce ions to attract and settle out pollutants like static from the atmosphere more easily. It is important to remember, though, if you suffer from asthma or allergies that those that produce ozone (a gas composed of three oxygen atoms) could exacerbate respiratory conditions further.
Filtration systems found on top air purifiers often employ reactive oxygen species to kill pathogens in the air, using short-lived molecules like hydroxyl radicals, singlet oxygen, superoxide and atomic oxygen to destroy microbes in both air and surfaces. These harmful oxygen molecules are then replaced by harmless molecules such as hydrogen peroxide or nitric oxide for proper hygiene.
Most air purifiers feature an ACH rating, which indicates how often an entire volume of indoor air is filtered every hour. You should look for models with a higher ACH rating to ensure your indoor environment remains free from unpleasant odors, allergens and contaminants.
Filters in air purifiers should be replaced every two or three months, and most units come equipped with indicators to alert users when their filter needs changing.
Air purifiers can be especially helpful if your home is located in an area with high levels of outdoor pollution or indoor irritants. However, the best treatment is to remove a source instead of trying to overcome a source. For example, smokers can go outside as much as possible. Molds should be treated (or removed professionally).
How To Choose An Air Purifier?
As part of choosing an air purifier, the first consideration should be the size of the room where it will be used. Most air purifiers have an estimated maximum room size they are designed for and this information should be listed in their product specs. Secondly, look out for its clean air delivery rate (CADR) rating. This measures how quickly pollution such as smoke, dust and pollen are removed from the air through filtering mechanisms.
As another way of measuring an air purifier’s ability to filter out microbes and biological impurities, an active UV light is another reliable sign. Some purifiers utilize UV lighting specifically to kill mold or mildew growth, while others simply utilize the light for surface hygiene purposes. UV-based devices typically require more maintenance. Therefore, carefully consider if you need that particular function for your home.
Other key considerations when purchasing an air purifier are noise levels and energy consumption. While many air purifiers operate quietly at lower operating speeds, some can become noisier as the fan speeds increase. If it will be placed in your bedroom or baby’s room, look for one with low noise ratings in its specifications.
Energy Star-certified models may help reduce electricity costs by at least 40% more efficient than non-certified models, and could save more annually on electricity expenses.