How and do air purifiers work is a question we encounter often. Although they may seem like a innovation, air purifiers have been around for more than 200 years.
What started as a protective mask for fireman, have now evolved to the ability to protect you and your family from airborne pollutants. But do air purifiers really work?
Allergies and asthma affect more than 50 million Americans. That number is even bigger if we take the whole world into consideration. Concern for safe indoor air quality has rapidly increased.
Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to improve their indoor air quality.
Smoke, mold spores, pollen, bacteria, viruses, pet dander, and other pollutants damage your lungs and immune system. Most of these irritants cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Air purifiers filter allergens and pollutants seen or unseen by the human eye. To remove these objects, air purifiers typically use filters, electrical attraction, or ozone.
Air filters utilize fine sieves that filter particles from circulating air. As air flows into the air purifier, the finer the sieve used, the smaller the particles it traps.
How Air Purifiers Work?
The accepted benchmark for air filters had been set by the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which are guaranteed to trap 99.97% of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.
Microns are the standard unit used for measuring air particles. Each micron is equivalent to 1/25,400 of an inch.
The naked eye cannot see anything smaller than 10 microns, so pollutants like bacteria and viruses escape detection. HEPA filters remove smaller allergens like dust, smoke, chemicals, asbestos, pollen, and pet dander.
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The more times the air passes through the HEPA filter, the cleaner the air becomes.
Top-of-the-line brands like Austin Air air purifiers will provide approximately six air exchanges per hour in an average room and contain an average of 15 lbs of activated carbon/zeolite blends, which absorb chemicals and odors.
In addition to the HEPA filter, some brands offer optional medical grade ultra-violet (UV) light system. It is used to quickly kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi upon entry into the air purifier.
UV light protects the HEPA filter from biological and viral contamination. Electrical attraction is another technology which air purifiers use to trap particles.
Do Air Purifiers Work? Myths About Air Purifiers
There are some common myths about what an air purifier can or cannot do that should be clarified.
# MYTH 1 – Air purifiers will eliminate the need ever to dust again
The most common misunderstanding is thinking that air purifiers will literally lift the dust off all the surfaces of your furniture so that you will never have to dust again.
If that were to be the case, then the fan in an air purifier would be so strong let alone noisy, that it would create a dust storm in your home.
Exactly the opposite of what an allergy sufferer would want to do. Sorry, but you will still need a good Hepa vacuum cleaner and microfiber dusting cloth to dust your furniture and floors.
# MYTH 2 – If you have allergies, air purifiers are a silver bullet, and you will not have to do anything else
An air purifier is only part of your allergy control program. The problem is that some allergens like pollen are heavy and fall to the floor or furniture before an air purifier has time to catch them.
Some actions require cleanup and rearranging your home environment to be more allergy friendly.
Others require the use of other allergy relief products such as a steam cleaner for chemical free cleaning, washing sheets in hot water above 140º or a dehumidifier to lower humidity control mold and dust mite growth.
# MYTH 3 – Air purifiers will take care of all odors in your home, so you do not have to bother with it
A vast number of people think that if they have an air purifier, they do not have to do anything about odors in-house.
For example to not empty the cat litter, leave a dirty clothes hamper or rotting food in the kitchen for months.
Air purifiers only work for odors if they have several pounds of high-grade carbon in them, but still, good hygiene and removal of the cause of the odor is a better solution.
# MYTH 4 – If an air purifier has a HEPA filter in it, it must be great
Unfortunately, even if an air purifier has a Hepa filter, it doesn’t mean it will perform at 100%. The filters vary in size and construction quality which is not discernible to the average consumer.
Also, other design factors in an air purifier may prevent it doing an effective job.
# MYTH 5 – If you have dust mite allergies, the first thing you need to do is buy an air purifier
Not true. The first thing you should do is buy dust mite covers for your bedding where dust mites tend to congregate in warm moist environments. An air purifier will capture dust mite fragments which have become airborne.
# MYTH 6 – Air purifiers with HEPA filters remove odors
Hepa filters do not remove odors. For that carbon filter in an air purifier is used. You need to find air purifier which has HEPA and carbon filter.
# MYTH 7 – Air purifier will do a great job at any speed
Consumers will often run their air purifier at low speeds in order not to hear fan noise. By doing this, you reduce the square footage which the air purifier will adequately cover.
If you cannot afford one of the better air purifiers which can run at high speeds without too much noise, then it is best to turn up your air purifier on high-speed setting a couple of hours before you go to bed and then turn it on low for the rest of the night.
# MYTH 8 – All air purifiers remove tobacco smoke
What air purifiers actually do is remove the particles floating in the air left behind when people have been smoking. For removing tobacco smoke check air purifiers which have that ability.
# MYTH 9 – Air purifiers remove viruses and germs
Some air purifiers are misleading in their advertising that ultraviolet kills viruses.
In most air purifiers, the amount of time that allergens have in front of the ultra violet light is not sufficient to kill them.
Only a few air purifiers either have an enhanced Hepa filter sufficient to capture viruses or technology such as a sterilizer which uses heat to kill pathogens.
Apart from these common misconceptions, there are a select number of air purifiers that we recommend for removing allergens. You can see our top-rated air purifiers and their specifications.
Of the ones we recommend, is the IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifier. The Airfree Sterilizer is recommended for virus capture, and the Airpura T600 Smoke air purifier is recommended for the removal of smoke and its associated odors.
Air Purifiers Work With Electrical Attraction
Three types of air cleaners work using electrical attraction: electrostatic precipitating cleaners, electret filters, and negative ion generators.
1. Electrostatic precipitating cleaners or electronic air purifiers draw particles in by a fan and charge them with a series of high-voltage wires.
Several plates (precipitating cells) carry the opposite electrical charge and attract the contaminants as they pass by the plates.
Electronic air purifiers are perfect for individuals who don’t want to worry about the costly replacements of HEPA filters. The downside to these units is that many create a nasty byproduct, ozone.
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2. Electret filters in air purifiers use synthetic fibers that create static charges to attract particles.
Electret filters are offered in a variety of types including plain, pleated, disposable or reusable. Depending on the kind of filter you need, will determine how often the filter requires replacement.
Some brands like the Blueair air purifier combine the HEPA technology with their own electrostatic media filter technology. By combining the two unique purification systems together, Blueair created a more efficient air cleaner.
3. Negative ion generators or ionic air purifiers use tiny, charged wires or needles to create gas molecules with negative charges or ions that adhere to the airborne particles and collect in the filter.
However, many ions end up back in the air, sticking to furnishings and other surfaces that may be stained by them.
Ionic air purifiers only remove particular types of particles and aren’t always effective against gasses, chemicals, or odors.
Some ionic air purifiers have been shown to re-circulate the same dirty particles that they draw in, making them much less efficient than traditional air purifiers using HEPA filtration.
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Instead of using filters to trap particles, ozone generators use high voltage electrical currents to convert oxygen to ozone, which acts as a powerful oxidant and breaks down molecules and microorganisms in the air.
Several tests have proved that ozone generators are not very effective at removing indoor allergens.
Ozone can be hazardous to your health. In nature, lightning creates ozone when it cuts through oxygen molecules in the air. In the atmosphere, ozone helps protect us from harmful UV rays.
But on the ground level, ozone is a powerful lung irritant. When created artificially, ozone can actually aggravate allergies and asthma, damaging the lining of nasal passages and lungs, causing coughing, throat irritation, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association advise against using ozone purifiers.
Since most people stay an average of 90% of the time indoors, providing fresher and cleaner air has never been more important.
Finding an environment-friendly solution has become much easier. Learn about air purification today. The right air purifier will provide asthma and allergy sufferers with air free from airborne pollutants and establish healthy indoor air quality for you and your entire family.
So to answer on the question: “Do air purifiers work?” Yes, they work. You just need to pick the right one. That is why we have detailed reviews on various air purifiers as well as specification comparison for each air cleaner.