It is common knowledge that indoor air can be quite polluted. On some days, the number of pollutants inside the home can be as much as 5 times more than what is in outdoor air. Since we spend a significant amount of our day indoors, it is only normal that we worry about smoke, dust, odor, and other particles in the air and how they affect our health.
The air we breathe in often includes allergens that can trigger sneezing bouts, coughing, itchy throat, or even a full-blown asthma attack. An air purifier is a portable appliance that is often advertised as being able to cleanse the air and get rid of various impurities it may contain.
While it is true that air purifiers can indeed help mitigate some of the threats posed by breathing in potentially polluted indoor air, one would wonder if this appliance actually lives up to the hype. Do air purifiers actually work for allergies and how well does it work if it does?
How Do Air Purifiers Work
The principles of operation of an air purifier are relatively simple. This device often consists of one or several filters. A fan sucks in air from the room while the air filter in the purifier unit traps pollutants before pushing the “purified” air back into the room.
The type of filter an air purifier has is a major factor that determines its efficiency. Thus, if you are looking to purchase a purifier that will reduce allergy symptoms, you have to understand that the effectiveness of this device would vary based on the type of filter it contains. Therefore, you have to consider the type of pollutant you intend to get rid of in choosing an air purifier.
What Type Of Allergens Can An Air Purifier Remove?
Air purifiers vary in terms of the type of filter they contain and this can impact the degree to which they can get rid of pollutants. For instance, HEPA filters which are considered industry standards as far as efficient air purification is considered are effective for getting rid of known allergens like dust, pollen particles, pet dander, and mold spores. However, they are inefficient for dealing with smoke and bad odor.
Carbon-based filters on the other hand are very efficient for filtering gases and odor from the air. But they are not very effective when it comes to handling dust, pollen, and similar solid particles. UV filters have the added advantage of being able to destroy bacteria, mold, and other biological impurities in the air. Some air purifiers also have ionizers. These attract static particles and removes them from the air.
The type of filters also matters. Some air purifier units feature reusable filters. These are generally more effective for dealing with larger-sized particles like pollen spores and dust mites. However, they need to be meticulously maintained to keep them functioning properly.
To sum this point up, the type of allergens you are hoping to get rid of is an important factor that determines the type of purifier you should buy (or if an air purifier will even work for you at all). If you are concerned about biological allergens such as bacteria and mold, for instance, you might have to look at other solutions asides from purifiers. For instance, if you have a mold problem in your home, what you need would be a dehumidifier rather than a purifier. This will help solve the humidity problem that is causing mold growth. Also, some bacteria are resistant to UV light so even filters will not work against them.
The Capacity Matters Too
Even though good-quality air purifiers are known to be effective for getting rid of allergens, other factors determine how well they can perform this function. One of these is the capacity of the air purifier relative to the size of the room. You should consider the size of the space you intend to use the air purifier for in making your purchase.
Generally, the size of the room the air purifier unit can handle will be indicated in square feet. Measure the size of your room and compare it with this figure. Similarly, you should also check the CADR figure of the air purifier. This is the clean air delivery rate of the unit which refers to the volume of clean air the purifier can produce per minute. Ensuring that your air purifier is correctly sized will determine how well it can get rid of the allergens in the air.
Should You Buy An Air Purifier For Allergies?
Before your purchase an air purifier, we must reiterate that using an air purifier is not an automatic cure for allergies. Purifiers don’t have a direct effect on the respiratory symptoms of allergic reactions. They may help remove airborne pollutants and reduce the number of allergens in their air. But there are other factors that predispose you to allergens which include genetics and environmental factors. The type of purifier, its capacity, and the size of your purifier matter as well. Ventilation, the rate at which new particles are emerging, and your interior furnishing also have an impact on indoor pollution that a purifier is unlikely to fix.
It is also important to note that the effectiveness of a purifier (as advertised may differ from how well it would work in real life. So while manufacturers may claim 99% effectiveness don’t expect all your 99% of your indoor air problem to disappear like its magic. Lab-controlled tests can hardly ever be replicated accurately in real life.
If you suffer from allergy, asthma, and other respiratory problems, installing an air purifier in your home may help you deal with allergy issues. Good quality air purifiers (especially those with HEPA filters) are good at getting rid of fine airborne particles and will do your indoor air quality a world of good. Just pay attention to the other factors mentioned here that can affect how efficiently your air purifier will serve its purpose.