Do Air Purifiers Work: Is It Worth the Investment?
Discover if Air Purifiers Are Just a Gimmick
Did you know that ambient air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases!
Don’t be one of these death statistics!
The question is, what can be done about it?
In this article, we look at:
- What’s an air purifier?
- Do they actually work for pollution & allergies?
- What air purifiers CAN & CAN’T filter out?
- How to get the most out of an air purifier.
The team at ByPurify scours the web for interesting news, research and patents that impact your everyday home life.
Some of the harm caused by polluted air can be resolved by air purifiers.
In reality, however, not all air purifiers live up to the marketing hype.
Continue reading to learn how air purifiers work and whether they’re worth considering for your home or office.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers work by using a filtration mechanism to remove particles from the air and then recirculate clean air.
In its most basic form, an air purifier consists of a fan that pulls in ambient air.
They filter this air through a filter made of various materials, such as paper, fiberglass, or mesh.
After that, the filter captures particles larger than a specific size (the size will differ depending on the air purifier).
Finally, the fan circulates the filtered, clean air back into the room.
Some particles are likely to remain on soft and hard surfaces, like furniture or walls. The filter will need to be replaced over time.
Keep in mind
Not all air purifiers are created equal.
Instead of sucking in and filtering air, some air purifiers neutralize it.
They could, for example, emit negative ions that attract and neutralize particles via static.
Another type of air purifier is the ultraviolet light (UV) filter, which eliminates bacteria and mold by emitting ultraviolet light.
Types of Air Purifiers
The 2 types of air purifiers are HEPA and IONIC.
Let’s explore each in more detail.
HEPA filters capture particles as little as 0.3 microns or larger. HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of dust, bacteria, mold, pollen, and other particles from the air.
Ionic Air Purifiers
Ionic air purifiers purify the air by releasing significant numbers of electrically charged negative ions.
These ions connect to airborne particles (mold, allergies, and toxins) and bind them to surfaces like the floor or walls.
While this improves air quality, the particles remain in the atmosphere and could be recirculated.
Ionic purifiers are less expensive than HEPA filters; therefore, some prefer them to HEPA filters.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
An air purifier filters and sanitizes pollutants, chemicals, and allergens from indoor air and improves air quality.
Air purifiers can freshen stale air, lowering the risk of health problems caused by indoor pollution, which can cause respiratory infections, neurological disorders, or worsen asthma symptoms.
Do Air Purifiers Work for Allergies?
Yes, air purifiers work for many common allergies, by removing contaminants such as pet dander, smoke, and dust from the air.
It can especially benefit people who suffer from pollen or pet-related allergies.
On the other hand
Air purifiers won’t work for dust-mite allergies because dust mites are too large a particle to remain airborne.
What Are Air Purifiers Supposed to Filter Out?
Air purifiers are supposed to filter out dust, smoke, pollen, allergens and gasses.
Let’s look at each in more detail.
Dust, Smoke & Pollen
Most air purifiers on the market filter out dust, smoke, and pollen particles from the air.
Real-World vs. Controlled Conditions in a Lab
The efficiency of air purifiers in real-life scenarios is unlikely to match that of controlled laboratory conditions.
You can’t always mimic what will happen at home as the site, setup, flow rate, space scenarios, and run-time will differ.
In addition, there are other factors in your home that may influence effectiveness, such as ventilation (open or closed windows) and the constant emergence of new particles, so the air may not be as filtered as the promises suggest.
Don’t Catch Gasses Like VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Air filters don’t catch VOCs and radon, which can accumulate from adhesives, paints, and cleaning agents. That would necessitate the use of an absorbent, such as activated carbon.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that air purifiers’ ability to filter out gasses is limited and that filters must be replaced frequently for best performance, usually every three months.
The allergens air purifiers are supposed to filter out are the following:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
Fungi & Mold
Air purifiers are supposed to filter out mold, mushrooms, and yeast which are examples of fungi that can cause allergic reactions in some people.
A HEPA air purifier fan can help reduce airborne fungus in your home.
Air purifiers are supposed to filter out the following types of smoke:
- Tobacco and cigarettes
- Log-burning fires
Indoor toxins should be filtered out by air purifiers by using a different purification technique called photocatalytic oxidation.
These types of air purifiers use UV light radiation to start a chemical reaction that neutralizes and destroys pollutants in the air.
This type of air purifier has been shown to remove pollutants, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and toluene, from the air.
Can Air Purifiers Filter the Outdoor Air That Enters Your Home?
Yes, some air purifiers may target outdoor air that enters your home, particularly if you live in a polluted or natural disaster-prone area.
Most people shouldn’t be concerned about temporary pollutants in the air outside their homes, such as smoke or exhaust fumes, because they quickly dissolve.
The right purifier can address any environmental air quality in your area.
What’s a HEPA Filter?
A HEPA filter is one of the most effective and thoroughly researched air purifiers available. It can catch particles as tiny as 0.3 microns or bigger.
The acronym HEPA refers to a high-efficiency particulate air filter.
HEPA filters can theoretically remove 99.97% of airborne dust, germs, mold, pollen, and other particles; however, their efficacy will vary depending on the filter’s age.
Studies have proven that HEPA filters successfully remove fungus, mold, and other allergens from indoor air.
What Should I Look For in an Air Purifier?
You should look for the CADR rating, size guidelines, verification from AHAM, and true HEPA filters.
Let’s explore each in more detail:
CADR (Clean-Air Delivery Rate) Rating
This factor considers the purifier’s cleaning speed for removing smoke, dust, and pollen. Look for a CADR of at least 300; anything above 350 is ideal.
For overall effectiveness, a model should be chosen that fits the size of your room.
Please choose a model designed for a larger area than the one you are outfitting. This will ensure it works in a lower and quieter setting.
Verification From AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers)
The AHAM standards ensure many home care appliances’ safety, efficiency, and performance, including air purifiers.
The standards are a fast way to determine if the device can effectively remove dust, smoke, and pollen from your home.
Most reputable air purifiers have gone through this certification program, including a CADR rating and size guidelines.
True HEPA filters efficiently eliminate ultrafine particles from your homes, such as dust, dander, pollen, mold, and other common allergens.
What Can & Can’t an Air Purifier Do?
Air purifiers can remove allergens, mold, smoke, and other toxins from the air.
They help prevent allergic and asthmatic symptoms from occurring in the first place and also neutralize unpleasant odors.
On the other hand
Air purifiers can’t remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air, and they can’t remove anything that has settled on your floor or furniture.
Do Air Purifiers Work for COVID?
Yes, air purifiers work for COVID.
However, air purifiers should not be used in place of masks, hand washing, isolation, not sharing personal products, and sanitizing measures.
Consider ventilation to be part of a “layered strategy” for preventing coronavirus spread.
How to Improve Air Quality at Home
Air quality can be improved at home:
- Consider HEPA filtration
- Check the clean air delivery rating (CADR)
- Purchase multiple air purifiers for big houses or separate rooms
- Check the minimum efficiency reporting values (MERVs)
How to Get the Most Out of An Air Purifier
To get the most out of an air purifier, do the following regularly:
- Cleaning out dusting
- Regularly cleaning carpets, rugs, and soft furnishings
Air Purifier Myths
Myth #1. You Won’t Need to Clean as Often
Keep up with your usual cleaning routine to help the purifier and promote a healthy home environment.
Dust and other particles are removed from the air by air purifiers, but it doesn’t remove dust and dirt off surfaces.
Myth #2. If the Purifier Uses a HEPA Filter, It Must Be Good
Not all HEPAs are the same. It’d be best if you looked for the one that uses a true HEPA filter.
Also, note that harmful bacteria can accumulate in the filter’s fibers; therefore, the filter needs to be changed regularly to ensure your purifier works the best it can.
Myth #3. The Air Purifier Will Remove All Odors
To some extent, an air purifier can neutralize odors, but it all depends on the carbon in the filter. If your home has a lot of unpleasant scents, the filter will need to be updated more frequently.
Myth #4. Air Purifiers Remove Viruses & Bacteria
Some bacteria and viruses are too tiny to be trapped even if your machine has a true HEPA filter.
Myth #5. An Air Purifier Will Fix Your Allergy Blues
It’s not to be mistaken as a replacement for medication. This only helps ease symptoms of allergies.
Are Air Purifiers Worth It?
Yes, air purifiers are worth it and have proven to be a wonderful investments because allergies and other pollutants can be removed from the air.
Air purifiers have a variety of health benefits, which vary from person to person and depend on the pollutants present indoors.
The following are a few advantages of using air purifiers at home or in the office:
- Reduced allergy symptoms.
- Reduced inflammation.
- Reduced blood pressure.
- Improved asthma symptoms.
- Neutralizes unpleasant smells.
- Can kill germs.
The following are a few disadvantages of using air purifiers at home or in the office:
- You need to have the windows closed.
- Regular maintenance is required.
- Old filters worsen air quality.
- Air purifiers are not completely quiet.
- Certain air purifiers produce ozone.
- Not all indoor air quality problems get solved by an air purifier.
How to Choose the Right Size & Capacity
The right size and capacity will be determined on the packaging of the air purifier you’re about to buy.
The packaging will state whether the air purifier is suitable for a small, medium, or large room and the maximum square footage rating.
Air purifiers are labeled based on the size of the room in which they can be used effectively.
What Should I Avoid in an Air Purifier?
You should avoid air ionizers, ozone generators, and UV light purifiers.
Let’s go into more detail:
Ionizers don’t remove pollutants from the air but make them stick to surfaces nearby. When the pollutants build up, it can cause health problems.
Ionizers can produce hazardous ozone, which can irritate your airways or even cause an asthma attack.
An ozone generator isn’t an air purifier, and they don’t clean the air.
Not only can ozone generators take almost a year to entirely clear a small room from gasses, but they can also cause asthma attacks because of their reactions in the air.
UV Light Purifiers
UV light purifiers are frequently used in hospitals to disinfect equipment and help stop the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.
However, these bacteria and viruses must be exposed to UV light for some time before they can be effective.
Some bacteria can even come back to life after being disinfected by a UV light. A UV light purifier doesn’t purify the air.
What Are Other Ways I Can Improve the Air Quality in My Home?
Other ways to improve the air quality in your home is to make sure that you always have windows open where possible; it helps with circulation.
Clean and vacuum often and change air filters regularly.
If your home is situated with exhaust fans above your stove or bathroom, you can switch them on for about an hour every day. This will help move air outside.
Can I Use an Air Purifier With a Window Open?
Yes, you can use an air purifier with a window open.
While an air purifier can function with the windows open, it will not perform as well as if the area is sealed.
Does Air Purifier Dry Out Air?
No, an air purifier doesn’t dry out the air as it has no way of drawing moisture from the air.
How Long Should You Run an Air Purifier?
You should run an air purifier all day.
Where’s the Best Place to Put an Air Purifier?
The best place to run an air purifier is close to your breathing area.
The closer the unit is to your head, the less the distance that clean air needs to travel to reach you.
Can Air Purifiers Capture the Coronavirus?
Yes, air purifiers can capture the Coronavirus if they have a HEPA filter.
How Long Does It Take to Clear the Air in the Room?
Air purifiers can take anywhere from 30 minutes to clean air in a small room up to 2 to 3 hours for a larger room.
Are Air Purifiers Just a Gimmick?
No, air purifiers aren’t a gimmick.
Some companies will take advantage of the consumers and advertise false products. There are a lot of scams out there.
Do proper research before buying just any air purifier.
Is an Air Purifier a Waste of Money?
No, air purifiers aren’t a waste of money.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), air purifiers are worthwhile since they improve indoor air quality.
Do Air Purifiers Remove Dust?
Yes, air purifiers with HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of dust particles with a diameter of 3 microns.
Air purifiers with HEPA filters are currently the most effective at removing dust from your room.
Air purifiers effectively reduce particulate matter in the air.
Some types can provide health benefits to people who have allergies, asthma, and other conditions—however, there are many factors to consider when choosing the best air purifier.
HEPA filters, which can filter tiny particles, have the most research backing them up.