There are numerous air purifiers on the market today that make all kinds of claims about eliminating allergens and cleaning the air that you breathe. The idea that an appliance can improve the air quality in your home and reduce contaminants including odors, smoke, dust, and pet dander is an enticing prospect. Considering that studies have shown that indoor air can have levels of various pollutants up to five times higher than outdoor air, an air purifier could seem like the perfect solution.
Various models can be placed all around the house and even in the air ducts of your HVAC system. The more advanced a purifier is, the higher the price will be. With all of these promises and the price tag that comes along with air purifiers, the question is, “do they really work?” Let’s take a look at some of the things that air purifiers can do.
How do air purifiers work?
In some tests, air purifiers can kill up to 99% of bacteria. So how does an appliance do that? An air purifier typically consists of filters and a fan that pulls in air and then re-circulates it around your home. As the air passes through the filter, pollutants, mold, dander, bacteria, and other particles are caught and then clean air is forced out.
Typically, the air filters are paper, fiber, or mesh, and must be changed at regular intervals to maintain efficiency. Some specialty filters such as High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters (HEPA) can trap even more particles and produce cleaner air. The number of filters and the kind of filters used will determine how effective the purifier is at improving indoor air quality. While most of these units are plug-in purifiers that you put in a central location in your home, there are whole-home air purification systems that can be integrated into your central air.
What do air purifiers filter out?
The majority of air purifiers on the market today are intended to capture airborne particles such as dust, pollen, and mold spores. This is ideal for people with allergies or asthma. Most filters are not designed to clear air pollution and gases like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or radon from the air. These pollutants accumulate in the air from adhesives, paints, or cleaning solutions.
Additionally, depending on the outside environment where you live, these air contaminants can originate outside and make their way into your home. To remove these kinds of pathogens from the air, would require activated carbon or another absorbent. Allergens like dust mites that are embedded into bedding or flooring are also not removed by regular air purifiers.
Are air purifiers effective?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Air purifiers are effective at what they are designed to do. With an adequate filter, air purifier machines are useful for removing particles from the air. The caveat, however, is that numerous factors can impact the effectiveness of your purifier. Variables such as the location, installation, flow rate, and operating time will all contribute to the performance level of the device.
The biggest factor that impacts performance is the environment in your home. Effecting the efficacy of the machine will be ventilation (open or closed windows) and the air circulating throughout the whole house. The most important thing to remember is that new particles are always emerging so the air will never be 100% pure.
Should you buy an air purifier?
If you are deciding whether or not to purchase one of these devices, you need to first accept that these machines are not a cure-all. These systems can help alleviate allergies and respiratory issues as they help to create a healthier environment in your home. However, things like the environment and the cleanliness of your central air system will have an impact. With all of this considered, however, they are effective and if you or your family members have allergies or are asthma sufferers it might be worth buying an air purifier with a HEPA filter.