Would you go the extra mile to improve your indoor air quality by using air purifiers?
The Covid-19 pandemic brought constant attention to the air quality inside our homes. And why not? Indoor air is said to be five times worse than outside, which explains why we must take extra steps to safeguard our health. Even though we are collectively beginning to view the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the need to protect our families from possible sicknesses is never ending.
That said, air purifiers have been marketed as a potential savior from these invisible threats. They are believed to improve the air quality at your home, removing all contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, foul odors, dust, mites, and pet hair.
But before anointing air purifiers as saviors, it’s important to know the answer to these questions: How do air purifiers work? Are they really effective, or are they just a product of overblown marketing hype?
How Air Purifiers Work
Air purifiers often include a filter (could be more than one) as well as a fan that draws in and circulates air. This procedure cleans the air, which may contain pollutants and an army of potential pathogens and allergens. They are the antithesis of essential oil diffusers and humidifiers, which introduce particles into the air. It should not be confused with air filters since air filters do not sanitize the air as air purifiers do.
With the basic parts mentioned above, air purifiers follow a straightforward order: a.) a fan that sucks in air; b.) the filters capture and neutralize pollutants and particles as air passes over them, and c.) lastly, the clean air is recirculated into the living space. This process is repeated numerous times each hour, improving indoor air quality.
Although they are excellent at filtering out most harmful particles, some are likely to linger on soft and hard surfaces such as furniture or walls. The specific airborne particles removed from the air are determined by the type of air purifier and filter utilized. Some of the most common filter types used in air purifiers are:
- HEPA filters
- Ultraviolet light filters
- Electrostatic filters
- Washable filters
- Chemical Filters
Almost all air purifiers utilize HEPA filters for one apparent reason– it works! The most significant advantage of HEPA filters is their ability to effectively purify the air. These filters’ design makes them suitable for absorbing large and small contaminants. HEPA filters do not cost much and are fairly maintenance-free.
If your family has allergen problems, you may also want to consider an air purifier with electrostatic filters. These filters generate static electricity, which serves as a magnet for dust and other air pollutants. The attraction is powerful enough to restrict these particles from dispersing around your home, making them one of the finest choices for individuals looking for an allergen-fighting filter.
More often than not, air purifiers combine at least two filters for better results. For instance, some models have a team of HEPA filters, PCO (photocatalytic oxidation), and activated charcoal to eliminate pollutants and odor effectively. These air purifiers may cost more, but it checks all the necessary boxes regarding air sanitation.
Are Air Purifiers Effective?
The short answer is yes, but it’s not a miracle worker. Not every circulating air in the room gets close enough to the purifier to be cleaned and sanitized. They may successfully filter out most harmful particles, but some are likely to linger on soft and hard surfaces such as furniture or walls. Once these particles already rest on the surfaces, there’s nothing that air purifiers can do about it.
That said, air purifiers can add an extra layer of protection for your family. It’s not supposed to be a substitute for good hygiene and cleaning habits, but it’s meant to support traditional methods. An air purifier will not improve indoor air quality on its own, but it can undoubtedly help. The adverse health effects of air pollution are not to be taken lightly, and we need all the reinforcements we can get.
Do Air Purifiers Work Against Coronaviruses?
Another point of contention when it comes to air purifiers is their efficacy against the Covid-19 virus. After all, HEPA filters can only remove particles of at least 0.3 microns in size, while the Covid-19 virus is only 0.1 microns.
Air purifiers still work against them since coronaviruses often attach themselves to droplets or aerosols. Like other airborne viruses and bacteria, these droplets can be eliminated by air purifiers.
Again, this doesn’t mean you will be coronavirus-free if you have air purifiers at home. Air purifiers cannot prevent direct transmission from an infected individual, especially if the person is just a few feet away. It takes time for the air purifier to trap these particles, and by the time the air is drawn into the purifier, the virus may have already traveled up your nose and into the rest of your respiratory system.
Tips for Choosing an Air Purifier
There are more air purifiers in the market than ever before, especially when the pandemic came around. Some newer models may impress you with fancy descriptions of their technology, while some follow the conventional route. Whatever the case, it’s important to know what to look for in air purifiers so that you won’t overpay for things you don’t really need.
- Determine where you intend to place your air purifier so that you can select one that is appropriate for the size of the intended space.
- Compare the CADR or Clean-Air Delivery Rate. CADR is a measurement of the purifier’s cleaning speed for removing contaminants. Anything above 350 is ideal, but it shouldn’t be less than 300.
- Choose an air purifier that uses a true HEPA filter. True HEPA filters are effective in removing microscopic particles. They can remove at least 99.97% of particulates measuring 0.3 microns in diameter in a lab setting. However, some purifiers may use descriptions such as “HEPA-like,” which is a different way of saying, “this is not a true HEPA filter.” Exercise caution and ensure that the air purifier utilizes a legit HEPA filter.
- Some in your family could be sensitive to noises, even relatively faint ones. If that’s the case, you can choose a quiet air purifier. You may do so by checking out the noise levels of the model, probably listed in decibels.
- Compute the maintenance and electrical usage of the air purifier so you can budget beyond the initial purchase. The cost of daily air purifier usage is not huge, but it could add up over time. On average, air purifiers may increase electricity consumption by 0.5% to 8%.
- It’s not a bad idea to try out new things, but if you’re not familiar with how air purifiers work, choose a model from a reputable company just to be safe.
- Crowdsource your decision. Read the product’s online reviews to gain a general sense of consumer satisfaction and see what others say concerning specific issues.
Bottom Line: How Air Purifiers Work
Air purifiers are not cure-alls for all indoor air problems. They may not even protect us from diseases caused by viruses because viral transmissions happen through close contact. However, that doesn’t mean investing in an air purifier is a waste of money.
Air purifiers provide significant benefits to households with an asthmatic or otherwise susceptible child. They truly make a world of difference. Air purifiers are no substitutes for the traditional cleaning approach, but it could be the difference between one episode of allergic reaction and the next.
If you have decided to purchase an air purifier, remember the things you must consider: room size, CADR, presence of true HEPA filters, initial cost, and more. It’s also best if you plan ahead and estimate the maintenance and energy costs. This way, you ensure that there are no surprises and that everything falls within your budget.