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6 Benefits Of An Air Purifier

Sheryl Cannes
Updated on: May 23, 2022

Air purifiers might jump on your radar whenever smoke, smog, and allergens reach a seasonal high point. However, the benefits of air purifiers run further and deeper than just clean air, though that’s reason enough in itself. These devices remove impurities you probably didn’t even know were in your home. Whether they are allergy sufferers or struggle with respiratory issues, all of your family members can benefit from clean air.

Air purifiers neutralize or remove pollutants and unwanted particulates through various technologies. However, you’ll need an air purifier that targets the right impurities and particulates based on your needs. For example, if you’re worried about volatile organic compounds (VOCs), you need a different type of air purifier than if dust mites are your primary concern. There are also air purifiers designed to target a wide range of particulates.

Benefits of Air Purifiers

1. Allergy Relief

Pollen, pet dander, dust, and dust mites are the most common allergens found in the home. Air purifiers can do an excellent job of removing allergens, particularly models with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, also called true HEPA filters. These filters are made of dense fibrous layers that trap particulates as a fan pulls air through the filter. Known as mechanical air purifiers, air purifiers with HEPA filters capture particulates down to .3 microns in diameter, successfully removing up to 99.97 percent of allergens.

Mechanical air purifiers aren’t the only air filters or purifiers that target allergens. Ionizers, also called electrostatic precipitators, have ion technology that releases charged positive or negative ions that attach to airborne particulates. The added weight of the ion causes the particulates to fall out of the breathable air space. Some ionizers have an electrostatic plate that attracts the particles, creating less work for you. However, others require you to either vacuum, sweep, or dust-up the fallen particulates.

2. Removes Chemicals and Fumes

In some cases, indoor air pollution can be two to five times worse than outside air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Many common household products bring airborne pollutants into the home. For example, a new sofa may contain adhesives, or a new mattress may off-gas after the manufacturing process. Even new building materials can release fumes.

Air purifiers with an activated carbon filter can remove some chemicals and fumes from the air. These filters have been exposed to oxygen, which opens the pores in the carbon. These thousands of tiny pores absorb cigarette smoke, tobacco smoke, smog, and other pollutants.  Air purifiers often have an activated carbon filter in conjunction with another type of purification like a HEPA filter or ionizer.

3. Neutralizes Odors

Kitty litter boxes, pet cages, and even general cooking can fill your home with unpleasant odors. Air purifiers with an activated carbon filter act as an air cleaner to neutralize these odors before they spread through your house. The same pores that can absorb fumes provide cleaner air by absorbing odors as well.

4. Gets Rid of Some Molds

Living in a humid climate can cause health problems due to mold or mildew growth. Allergy and asthma sufferers may be more sensitive to mold spores, but these irritants can make anyone’s sinuses feel congested and irritated. Air purifiers aren’t as efficient at removing mold, in part, because mold grows on surfaces. The spores have to be airborne for the air purifier to be effective. However, an air purifier with a HEPA filter can at least remove some of the mold spores that contribute to health issues.

5. Reduces Airborne Viruses and Bacteria

Some bacteria and viruses are among the impurities an air purifier can target. However, it depends on the size of the particle. Of course, larger particles are easier to remove than small ones. An air purifier cannot remove all bacteria and viruses, but it can help as long as those bacteria or viruses are airborne.

Three types of air purifiers have the potential to target these contaminants:

  • Mechanical (HEPA)
  • Ionizer
  • UV air purifier

The only type on this list we haven’t discussed yet is a UV air purifier. These models use ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria or viruses. However, their effectiveness is limited because some bacteria and viruses require anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes of exposure to UV rays before they die. Yet, an air purifier only has contact with contaminants for 20 to 30 seconds. Also, it can only pull them through the air purifier if they’re airborne. Both of those factors limit an air purifier’s effectiveness. However, every virus or bacteria killed is one more that won’t make you sick.

6. Clears Air Pollutants

Some particles you find floating through your house don’t fall into the allergen, virus/bacteria, smog, or mold category. People who live in rural, agricultural areas may battle dust and dirt that makes its way inside to become an indoor pollutant. Pesticides, herbicides, and your own skin cells can also mix into the particulate matter, affecting indoor air quality.

HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, and ionizers are all great choices to get rid of the leftover particulates found in the home.

Air Purifier Disadvantages

As much as air purifiers do great things for your home, they do have their downsides.

  • Producing ozone: Ozone is three oxygen molecules bonded together. It’s one of the main components of smog and can irritate the nasal passages, lungs, and cause sore throats. And unfortunately, it can be a side effect of some types of air purifiers, namely ionizers and UV air purifiers. Most of the time, an air purifier should run on a regular, daily basis to maintain the air quality. However, these types of air purifiers shouldn’t be run all the time because of the dangers of ozone.
  • 24/7 runtime: Air purifiers work by maintaining a consistent indoor environment, which means they need to run all the time to be most effective. As soon as you turn an air purifier off, there’s potential for pollutants to reenter the home and reduce air quality almost immediately.
  • Unable to remove all particulate matter: Even a high-quality HEPA air purifier cannot remove every allergen in the air. People with severe allergic reactions or asthma may still struggle. Along the same lines, an air purifier may help with unwanted odors, but it may not completely clear your home of them.

FAQs

Are air purifiers portable?

The majority of air purifiers are considered portable, even though some of the larger models are cumbersome to move. However, they have wheels and can move from room to room if necessary. Keep in mind that each purifier is designed to work in a specific square footage. If you use an air purifier in a room that’s too large, it won’t effectively clean the air, and you won’t get the associated health benefits.

Can I use one air purifier for my whole house?

Portable air purifiers are only designed for use in one room. However, there are whole-house purifiers that tap into your HVAC. These purifiers work alongside your air conditioner and furnace to remove harmful particles and polluted air throughout your entire home. They are expensive but often worth it for those who suffer from severe allergies, asthma, or another respiratory condition.

How can I tell how powerful an air purifier is?

One of the most common and regulated ways of measuring an air purifier’s power is the clean air delivery rate (CADR). The CADR is given in three categories—dust, smoke, and pollen. The CADR rating tells you how many cubic feet of air the purifier can clear of the designated pollutant in one minute. A high CADR rating means the air purifier is more efficient. For smoke and pollen, the highest CADR is 450. For dust, the highest CADR is 400. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) does the testing and assigns the rating. However, getting a CADR is a voluntary measurement, so not all air purifiers have a CADR rating.

The Bottom Line

It may seem like outdoor air carries more pollutants, but airtight building designs and poor ventilation can easily reduce indoor air quality. Home air purifiers can target everything from fine particles to bad odors, and they can contribute to a better night’s sleep by removing stale air. Know what kind of airborne particles you’d like to target, and you’ll be able to find an air purifier that does what you need it to do.

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