Air purifiers have become increasingly popular over the last few years, with more and more people choosing to have them, in part due to increased environmental concerns about air quality. Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that ensued, vast swathes of populations were spending more time at home, often working remotely, instead of in the office. Because of this, many people have become concerned about indoor pollutants and particles that can affect the health of the human body, in particular the lungs. If you’ve been considering purchasing an air purifier, the big question on your mind will be ‘does it actually work?
How do air purifiers work?
Air purifiers have the opposite effect to humidifiers – instead of adding particles to the air, they clean the air by removing harmful particles, such as toxins and allergens. Some people choose to purchase filters, but these only remove particles from the atmosphere, whereas air purifiers also clean the air around you, making for a better overall choice.
Different types of air purifiers exist, doing slightly different things and removing different particles depending on which model you choose. Air is moved through the filters on the air purifier, which then captures and contains pollutants and toxic particles, before releasing clean air back into the environment. Filters will need to be changed every so often, adding another cost to the purchase of an air purifier.
Different types of air purifiers
There are two main types of air purifiers on the market at the moment – HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters & ionic air purifiers.
HEPA filters are generally more expensive and are the more effective air purifier, thought to remove up to 99.97% of unwanted particles in the atmosphere, though this may change over lifetime use. They’ve also been in particular demand recently due to the coronavirus pandemic, as they are able to remove particles of the airborne Covid-19 virus from an indoor environment, although they are not enough to prevent against catching the disease entirely, so other prevention methods should also be undertaken.
Ionic air filters are more popular than HEPA filters as they are usually cheaper and more cost effective, however they aren’t as productive – whilst the air quality will be vastly improved, toxic particles aren’t entirely disposed of, meaning they could still lay dormant in the atmosphere. There has also been some controversy over ionic air filters due to the way they work – ionic air filters work by sending out negative ions with an electric charge into the air, with these ions attaching themselves to the toxic particles in the room. The negative ions used can cause negative health issues, with research into the matter concluding that HEPA air purifiers are the better version to purchase, despite the increased cost.
Do air purifiers work?
As previously stated, HEPA filters do a much better job at cleansing the air in a room than ionic air filters – whilst both devices do work to a degree, HEPA filters are more effective overall. However, this effectiveness can depend on a number of things, including the type of particle you are wanting to filter, how and where the air purifier is used, whether the device is maintained and the filter is replaced regularly and the level of air pollution in the area when purchasing the device.
It’s also important to note that some particles can sit on soft or hard surfaces instead of floating in the air, so a separate filter may also be beneficial alongside an air purifier. Another thing to note is that air purifiers are most effective when used with other cleaning tools – if your house isn’t cleaned regularly, then buying an air purifier may not make as much difference to the air quality in your property. Regularly cleaning surfaces, dusting & vacuuming are all very important cleaning habits to get into, especially if you want to keep your property as particle free as possible.
The health benefits of air purifiers
The health benefits of air purifiers have been studied greatly, with general conclusions being that they do work to a degree. People who have allergies or suffer from asthma and hayfever will particularly benefit from air purifiers, as they have been shown to reduce allergy symptoms and filter out toxic particles such as pollen from the atmosphere. There is a big link between allergies and asthma, so by filtering out particles that trigger allergies, they can also alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Other allergens found in the home that HEPA filters are effective at filtering include pet fur/hair, dust mites, mould and fungi – especially airborne fungi.
Smoke is another thing that air purifiers can help with. Whilst it’s recommended that you don’t smoke indoors, many people still choose to smoke and vape whilst inside, which can lead to secondhand smoke appearing. Research into air purifiers has shown that they do help to reduce the amount of secondhand smoke in a property, however they aren’t very effective at removing nicotine in the air, so it may be best to eradicate smoking indoors completely. Air purifiers can also be used to filter smoke produced in other ways, such as smoke created from open fires, cooking and even wildfires, if the smoke comes into your property from outside.
Other indoor toxins
Whilst mould, allergens and smoke are some of the main toxins that may be found within the atmosphere of your home, there are also many other things that can lead to the air quality being reduced. Cleaning products, aerosols, deodorants and other sprays will produce chemicals that can infect the air in your home, as can DIY or building materials. These products often contain highly toxic chemicals that are dangerous for your health if ingested. Air purifiers have been shown to reduce indoor toxins from such products, however another way to reduce them would be to cut your usage down as much as possible.
Other steps to improve air quality
Whilst air purifiers can help to improve air quality in your home, there are many other steps you can take to improve the efficacy of an air purifier or filter. As previously stated, try and cut down on using toxic chemicals and sprays and cease smoking or vaping in your home. Other top tips include cleaning and dusting your house regularly, changing your bedsheets every week, cleaning and grooming your pets on a regular basis and lowering the temperature of your house to reduce the humidity. Proper ventilation is also recommended, so make sure to crack a window open every so often, as fresh air can have greater health benefits than filtered air.