What Do Air Purifiers Actually Do and Do They Work?
Do Air Purifiers actually work | Should you buy an Air Purifier | Types of Air Purifiers | Will Air purifiers prevent corona virus | Best air purifiers | and more…
In recent years, people have been increasingly concerned about the adverse health hazards of pollution.
There’s real cause for that concern.
According to , breathing mildly polluted air for 10 years has the same effect on your lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 29 years. Basically, if you live in a mildly polluted city, you’re a passive chain smoker, whether you like it or not.
In light of those growing concerns, people have turned to air purifiers to cleanse their homes, and, in turn, protect their lungs.
Air purifiers are supposed to filter out dust, smoke, pollutants, mold, and so much more, creating a fresh environment for you to breathe in. Considering the fact that indoor air can often be as outdoor air, the popularity of air purifiers is understandable.
But there’s also growing suspicion of the promises made by air purifiers. Skeptics believe air purifiers don’t actually offer all the benefits they claim to offer. Some believe air purifiers may clean the air of some dust, but they do nothing to reduce pollution or help those with allergies. There’s also a prevailing belief that the perceived benefits of air purifiers occur because of a placebo effect.
So what’s the truth? Can air purifiers clean all the pollution from your home? Or are air purifiers a capitalist hoax thriving on your fear of lung cancer?
What do air purifiers actually do? And do they actually work? That’s what we find out in this article.
What is an Air Purifier?
Air Purifiers are fairly self-explanatory — they’re devices that purify the air.
Air purifiers trap airborne contaminants and pollutants like dust, mold, chemicals, odors, and other toxins. However, depending on the technology, different types of air purifiers are adept at capturing different types of pollutants.
Once they trap the pollutants, they release the purified air back into your home, thus replacing the polluted air with fresh air.
How do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers are made of one or several filters and a fan used for air circulation.
The fan sucks air from the atmosphere, which then moves through the filters. During this process, the filters capture the pollutants like dust mites, mold spores, etc., thereby cleaning the air. Once the air has moved through all of the filters, the fan dispels the air back into the atmosphere.
Types of Air Purifiers
Air purifiers come with various different mechanisms and air filters. However, most modern air purifiers use HEPA filters.
The following is an overview of the various types of air purifiers and how they work.
As you can see, HEPA filters are some of the most convenient and advanced types of air purifiers because they trap all forms of air pollutants. They’re also easiest to maintain regularly, which is why most residential air purifiers on the market currently use HEPA filters.
However, some of the advanced air purifiers on the market use a combination of different filters, such as the activated carbon filter, HEPA filter, UV light, and even electrostatic precipitators.
What are HEPA Filters?
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air.
As already mentioned previously, air purifiers with HEPA filters capture airborne particles of various sizes, up to .03 microns. They comprise multi-layered nets made of fine fiberglass threads that are thinner than a human hair. The filters are airtight, and the fiber strands are pleated and sealed with plastic or metallic frames.
As the fan sucks air into the purifier, the polluted air moves through the filters.
The largest air particles are captured via impaction, i.e., the particles collide against the fiber. The mid-sized air particles are captured via interception, i.e., the particles touch the fiber to get captured. The smallest air particles are captured via diffusion, i.e., they zig-zag through the various fiberglass layers until they eventually stick to the fiber.
Maintenance of Air Purifiers
Air purifier filters may be made of paper, fiberglass, or even mesh. However, regardless of the type of filter used, they all need regular maintenance and replacement.
As such, when considering the cost of air purifiers and whether you should buy one, you also need to factor in the cost of maintenance.
The frequency with which you’ll have to change the filters depends on the amount of time you use them and the level of pollution in your home. You can also find air purifiers with reusable or washable filters, but they’re hard to maintain and not generally used in the most advanced and effective air purifiers.
You may also consider the aforementioned UV light air purifiers because they claim to destroy impurities like bacteria, viruses, and mold. However, they require a higher wattage of energy, which means they’re more expensive in the long run. Furthermore, their efficacy isn’t guaranteed because several bacteria are UV-resistant.
As such, you should ideally purchase air purifiers with HEPA filters that need to be replaced regularly. According to the (EPA), you should ideally replace the filters every three months for optimal functionality. In order to garner the complete benefits of air purifiers, you must also run them almost 24/7.
The operational cost of air purifiers can be approximately $50 a year, and the cost of replacing HEPA filters regularly may be approximately $100 a year. As such, after the initial purchase, you can expect to spend about $150 a year on maintenance and operation.
What do Air Purifiers Filter Out?
Most simple air purifiers on the market capture dust mites and pollen particles, but aren’t designed to capture VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or radon. If you want an air purifier that also traps VOCs and reduced radon in the atmosphere, you’ll need one with an activated carbon filter.
And what about mold spores?
People often believe air purifiers can filter out mold spores, but that is inaccurate. Mold occurs because of the level of humidity in your home. As such, if you want to get rid of the existing mold, you should invest in a dehumidifier or humidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels in your home. That’s the only way to eliminate excessive moisture and prevent mold growth.
The following is an overview of the types of particles air purifiers can remove.
In summary, most household air purifiers filter airborne particles like dust, smoke, and pollen. However, if you want air purifiers that can reduce radon, gaseous pollutants, or bacteria, you’ll need advanced purifiers with activated carbon filters or UV lights.
Do Air Purifiers Actually Work?
As mentioned above, most household air purifiers remove dust, smoke, and pollen particles. And advanced air purifiers with multiple types of filters can also remove gaseous pollutants, VOCs, bacteria, or radon from paints, adhesives, etc.
While air purifiers can reduce allergens in the form of pet dander, pollen, and dust, they can’t remove allergens attached to your furniture, floors, or frameworks. As such, while all air purifiers can make the atmosphere feel a lot better, their ability to protect you from harmful gasses or substances depends on the type of air purifier you purchase.
So what about those “99.97% effectiveness” claims, you ask?
When companies market their air purifiers as being 99.97% effective, they base those claims on results produced in contained laboratories. However, in real-world situations, variable factors like the operation time, atmospheric conditions, location, etc., will drastically affect those readings.
Air purifiers can still remove all of the accumulated dust mites, smoke particles, and pollen from the atmosphere. They may not be the magic wand solution to indoor pollution they’re often touted as, but they’re not a hoax either.
Should I Buy an Air Purifier?
Before you purchase an air purifier, you must understand that they’re not a one-stop solution to all of your atmospheric needs.
As mentioned above, air purifiers can remove dust, pollen, pet dander, and other forms of airborne allergens. Advanced air purifiers can also remove some smoke, radon, or VOCs. However, their ability to remove mold growth is limited, and they can’t stop radon from leaking.
As such, even though they may help by removing airborne particles, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that they can drastically improve general respiratory health.
Furthermore, you should also consider the operational and maintenance cost of air purifiers in addition to the upfront cost.
Once you’ve considered all of the aforementioned factors, you can take a call on whether it’s worth investing in an air purifier.
Will Air Purifiers Prevent Coronavirus?
As you may already be aware, COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) has officially been declared a . Countries across the globe, such as the United States, Italy, China, South Korea, and Iran have had massive outbreaks and are scrambling to contain the situation.
In light of this situation, people are asking “will air purifiers prevent coronavirus?”
In fact, have even started promoting their air purifiers as an effective protection measure against the virus. They claim their air filters can destroy or remove coronavirus from the air in a single pass.
However, these claims are completely bogus.
True HEPA filters can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns. Most viruses are smaller than 0.1 microns. Yes, some air purifiers come with UV-C lights that can destroys smaller microbes on a cellular level. However, different microbes react differently and there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that air purifiers can destroy coronavirus.
According to Dr. Erin Sorrell, an assistant professor of microbiology in Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, “Your typical HEPA filter is not going to be able to remove coronavirus from the air. The filter itself is .3 microns and the virus itself is roughly .1 microns.”
You should also note that coronavirus is an extremely recent virus, which is why it’s still in the infancy stage of studies.
So far, the best way to prevent contamination is to follow basic practices like washing hands with soap and alcohol-based sanitizers, not touching your face, avoiding crowded spaces, and minimizing social contact.
Most Popular Uses for Air Purifiers
Remove Odors from Home
Your home may accumulate foul odors because of the combined smells from pets, mold, garbage, cooking, smoke, and other such sources.
Air purifiers generally get rid of smoke, pet dander, dust mites, and pollen, which can help remove foul odors from your home.
If your air purifier has an activated carbon filter, it can remove even more odors, keeping your home fresh.
Remove Airborne Allergens
Do you or your family members suffer from allergies?
If so, air purifiers can help you get rid of airborne allergens in the form of pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.
As these particles pass through the air purifier, they’re trapped in the HEPA filters, thus clearing out the air. Once these airborne particles are removed, your allergies may go down. However, the furniture, floorboards, and foundation in your home may also have allergens that may continue irritating you.
As such, air purifiers can only remove airborne allergens, but they can’t offer complete relief from allergies.
Reduce Asthma Inducers
Dirty air dense with dust mites and pollen can irritate your respiratory system and trigger an asthma attack.
While air purifiers won’t treat your asthma, they will reduce the number of airborne triggers in your home, offering significant relief from asthma attacks and respiratory issues.
Remove Dust Mites
No matter how well you vacuum and clean your home, you can’t get rid of all the dust mites in the atmosphere.
Air purifiers, however, suck the dirty air and get rid of all the dust mites, eventually released clean air back into your home. This can clean your air, getting rid of airborne dust mites, but it can also make your home look cleaner in general.
Prevent Germ Contamination
Some air purifiers come with technologies that trap bacteria and viruses and prevent them from multiplying. Furthermore, UV light air purifiers even kill the bacteria and viruses, eliminating them completely.
Advanced air purifiers with such UV light filters and advanced technologies can help get rid of harmful bacteria, protecting you and your family from colds and flu.
Improve Respiratory Health
By getting rid of dust mites, some airborne allergens, and asthma triggers, air purifiers can improve your entire family’s respiratory health.
Air purifiers are especially beneficial for pets because they have smaller lungs, and they spend more time closer to the floor, which has a greater abundance of pollutants.
Remove Secondhand Smoke
Advanced air purifiers have HEPA filters that can suck all of the smoke from the atmosphere, pass them through various filters, and trap all the harmful smoke particles, before releasing fresh air.
As such, air purifiers can clean the air and minimize the hazards of secondhand smoking. However, you must find air purifiers that specifically mention they can remove smoke and odors. You should ideally get a HEPA filter air purifier with an activated carbon layer.
By removing contaminants, dust mites, allergens, and asthma triggers, air purifiers reduce factors that can make you wake up in the middle of the night. As such, they improve your sleep cycle.
Protect a Nursery and Baby
Children are extremely susceptible to respiratory ailments during the first few years of their lives. As such, the quality of air in your home is extremely important if you have a newborn baby.
With an air purifier, you can remove most (if not all) of the airborne contaminants from your home, keeping your nursery fresh for the baby.
Furthermore, if you’re concerned about the foul odors of dirty diapers, you can also set up an activated carbon filter air purifier in their room to absorb all of the odors.
All things considered, air purifiers can positively affect your baby by causing fewer allergic reactions, headaches, and respiratory ailments.
Protect the Elderly
As we get older, our respiratory systems weaken, leaving us more vulnerable to allergens, dust mites, and other airborne contaminants. As such, by getting rid of some of those pollutants, you can improve the quality of life for the elderly, helping them breathe easier.
Things to Look for When Buying an Air Purifier
Each air purifier usually comes with an indication of the size of rooms it can clean, generally indicated in square footage. For maximum efficiency, you need an air purifier that’s big enough for your room size. You should ideally get a model that’s meant for a space slightly larger than your current room so you can operate it at a lower setting and still have it be effective.
ACH refers to Air Change Per Hour, which indicates the number of times the purifier can filter the entire volume of air in your room per hour. You should generally look for air purifiers with a high ACH rating, i.e., they should clean the room’s air several times in an hour. If you’re an asthma or allergy sufferer, you should look for a rating of at least 4x ACH.
CADR refers to Clean-Air Delivery Rating, which indicates the overall cleaning speed of an air purifier. This rating determines how fast the air purifier can remove smoke, dust, and pollen particles from your home. You should look for a CADR rating of at least 300, though you should ideally opt for CADR ratings greater than 350.
HEPA Filter Rating
You must look for True HEPA filters because they’re the best at removing airborne pollutants and particles like dust, pet dander, pollen, etc. True HEPA filters can remove at least 99.97% or all airborne particles measuring at least 0.3 micron diameter. When looking for air purifiers, you must look for ‘True HEPA’ filters — you must avoid air purifiers that market themselves as ‘HEPA-like’ or ‘HEPA-type.’
AHAM stands for Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, an organization that verifies and certifies the safety, effectiveness, and performance of home care devices, such as air purifiers. These standards help simplify the purchasing process, offering a guarantee of quality. As such, you must look for AHAM Verified air purifiers.
Activated Carbon Filter
As mentioned previously, an activated carbon filter is used to trap chemicals, off-gassing, and VOCs. As such, if you want to greater protection from your air purifier, you should look for one with an activated carbon filter in addition to the regular HEPA filters.
Most air purifiers with HEPA filters have a noise level ranging from 35dB at the lowest setting to 70dB at the higher setting. However, the exact noise level may vary for different air purifiers. You should generally look for air purifiers with a lower noise level, so you’re not interrupted while sleeping.
You should also study the air purifier’s energy consumption rating, which helps you determine the operational cost of the purifier.
Some air purifiers release ozone, which leads to respiratory issues. You should look for air purifiers that don’t lead to ozone emission and are completely safe.
Overview of the Best Air Purifiers
is the best air purifier for dust and allergens. This air purifier uses a True HEPA filter, which is currently the best type of filtration system available, capable of removing up to 99.97% of all airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 microns, which makes it perfect for allergens and dust mites.
In addition to the True HEPA filter, this air purifier also contains an activated carbon filter that can absorb VOCs, smokes, gases, odors, and other large pollutants. The carbon filter is extremely effective, but it does necessitate that you change the filters at least once every three months.
This air purifier comes with three air cleaning speeds, plus a Turbo Clean setting. The Turbo Clean setting is suitable for those who want to quickly clear out the air in an extremely dirty room. For example, if you’ve been away from home for several days or weeks, you can return and use the Turbo Clean setting to get rid of all the allergens and dust quickly.
Honeywell HPA300 is suitable for large rooms measuring approximately 465 square feet. It has an extremely strong CADR and ACH rating, capable of cleaning a 465 square feet room five times in an hour.
All things considered, Honeywell HPA300 is the best air purifier for allergens and dust mite because it has a large room capacity and is equipped with a True HEPA filter and Activated Carbon filter.
is the best air purifier for smoke and pollution. When it comes to removing smoke and pollution traces from the atmosphere, you need a powerful air purifier with advanced filtration features. This air purifier comes with four types of filters — Pre Filter, Carbon Filter, True HEPA Filter, and an Ionizer.
The True HEPA Filter removes all of the dust particles, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne particles. The Carbon Filter and Pre Filter remove odors, smoke, and gaseous pollutants. And the Ionizer creates an electrochemical response that pulls particles from the air and filters them. Between the various types of filters used, this air purifier can effectively remove all of the various pollutants and smoke from the air.
One of the greatest features here is Eco Mode, which automatically turns the fan off when no pollution is detected for 30 minutes, conserving energy. This air purifier also offers three fan speeds, timers, and an air quality indicator with which you can study the air purifier’s impact on your indoor atmosphere.
While this air purifier is extremely suitable for removing smoke and pollutants, it also gets clogged up quickly and often. As such, you may need to clean the filters once every two to four weeks.
is one of the best air purifiers for controlling asthma triggers in large rooms. The factor that truly sets it apart as a great purifier for people with asthma is that it comes with a True HEPA filter and six stages of air purification — Pre-Filter, Medium Filter, HEPA Filter, Customized Filter, Activated Carbon Filter, and Negative Ion Generator. As the polluted air goes through the various stages of filtration, the purifier captures all of the smallest and largest toxins, cleaning the air and ridding it of all possible asthma triggers.
In addition to the traditional True HEPA filter, this air purifier also comes with various other filters — Germ Defense Filter, Pet Allergy Filter, Toxin Absorber Filter, and Odor Remover Filter. The Germ Defense Filter removes the bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. The Pet Allergy Filter gets rid of pet dander, allergens, and other similar particles. The Toxin Absorber Filter captures and removes VOCs and other harmful gaseous emissions. And the Odor Remover Filter captures smoke, pet odors, cooking odors, and other types of smells to refresh and deodorize your room.
This air purifier can provide up to 4 air changes per hour in a 350 feet room and two air changes per hour in a 700 feet room. As such, if you have asthma, you should ideally use this air purifier if you have a medium-sized room of around 350 feet. This air purifier is also extremely quiet because it uses a BLDC motor that operates in five speeds to maintain a noise level ranging from 20.8 to 45.6 dBA.
All things considered, RabbitAir MinusA2 is the best air purifier for asthma sufferers because it has six levels of filtration plus four levels of customizable filters, making it extremely thorough.
is a CADR 100+ air purifier meant for small or medium-sized rooms of approximately 167 square feet. This is an extremely cheap air purifier, costing less than $100, but it still offers some great filtration benefits.
This air purifier has a True HEPA Filter, which can remove up to 99.97% of all dust, pollen, and other airborne pollutants. It also has a pre-filter made of activated charcoal that reduces odors, smoke, and other large airborne particles. Finally, the UV light reduces VOCs and kills bacteria and germs, making it perfect for those who are susceptible to diseases, asthma, or respiratory ailments.
This air purifier may not be ideal for larger rooms, but it can clean small rooms four times in an hour. As such, this is one of the best and most effective air purifiers if you’re on a budget.
What are the Other Ways I Can Improve the Air Quality in my Home?
Air purifiers can help you improve the air quality in your home by removing dust mites, pollutants, pollen, and other airborne particles. However, air purifiers aren’t an all-purpose method to deal with all forms of pollution.
If you really want to make a drastic improvement in your home’s air quality, you must combine the use of air purifiers with other optimal practices:
Air purifiers, as the name suggests, purify the air. Their primary goal is to remove pollutants from the air, such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, VOCs, bacteria, smoke, odors, and other airborne particles.
However, the effectiveness of air purifiers depends on the amount and type of filters in the purifier — some can only remove dust mites and pollen while others can also kill bacteria and germs.
In this article, we’ve given you overviews of the best air purifiers for different purposes. If you’re about to purchase an air purifier, please scrutinize your needs carefully before finding one that’s suitable for you.
FAQs about Air Purifiers
How do I know if my air purifier is working?
Air purifiers are passive devices that filter air all day long. However, this passivity also makes it difficult to determine if they’re working correctly.
The following are some of the different methods with which you can tell if your air purifier is working.
Where should I place my air purifier?
There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re selecting the ideal location for your air purifier. The following are some locational tips when installing your air purifier:
Should I sleep with air purifier on all night?
Yes, you can sleep with your air purifier on all night. Since their primary function is to filter the air and clean it, you should ideally keep the air purifier turned on 24/7 for optimal air quality. Keeping the air purifier turned on at night also helps you sleep better by maintaining air quality.
Do air purifiers make the air dry?
Air purifiers don’t dry out the air. They only trap airborne pollutants and encourage fresh air circulation without affecting the moisture or humidity level. If you’re concerned about the humidity level in your home, you should invest in a humidifier or dehumidifier.
How long does it take an air purifier to clean a room?
There are a lot of factors that determine how long the air purifier will take to clean a room, such as the air purifier’s size, capacity, fan speed, CADR rating, ACH rating, and room size. However, in most cases, an air purifier can clean a room in 30 minutes to 2 hours.
How many air purifiers per room?
You only need one air purifier per room. However, you must ensure that the air purifier is rated for your room’s size. You should ideally get an air purifier with the capacity to handle a room that’s larger than yours. You must also study the CADR rating to make sure it’s capable of cleaning your room.
Can air purifiers make you sick?
Air purifiers are ideally meant to help people with respiratory ailments and asthma. They remove airborne particles and pollutants like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, etc., which helps you breathe easier.
As such, air purifiers are designed to improve general health rather than lead to sickness. Having said that, you must still practice caution when using air purifiers. If you don’t use them correctly or use the wrong air purifier, you may aggravate your health issues.
The following are some tips on how to ensure your air purifier won’t lead to sickness:
How long does it take to notice a difference with an air purifier?
Once you’ve selected the right air purifier for your room size, you can generally notice a difference after only 30 minutes to 2 hours. In some cases, you may even notice a difference in air quality after just 20 minutes.
Do air purifiers help with smell? Do air purifiers remove smells?
The fans in air purifiers pull polluted air into filters and get rid of all dust mites, pollen, and other contaminants. As such, the air they eventually release is a lot cleaner than the air that goes in. Air purifiers with an activated carbon filter also absorb odors, smoke, and VOCs. As such, air purifiers do help get rid of odors and bad smells from your home.
Are air purifiers expensive to run?
The operational cost of air purifiers depends on the type of air purifier, type of filter, and the airflow speed.
HEPA air purifiers generally consume 50-100 watts per hour, depending on the speed. As such, if you use the air purifier for 12 hours a day, you may have an annual operational cost of $36 to $60. If you run the air purifier 24/7, you may have an annual operational cost of $72 to $120.
Do air purifiers kill germs in the air?
Most air purifiers facilitate air circulation and filter out dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and other such airborne particles. However, if you want an air purifier that also kills germs, bacteria, and viruses, you need to find an Ultraviolet Light air purifier.
UV radiation is safe for humans, but it can kill most airborne bacteria and germs, which is why it’s often used in hospitals. As such, you should get a UV air purifier that can destroy the germs and bacteria it sucks into the filter.
Are air purifiers for conditions, such as COPD?
COPD, short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung disease that leads to persistent cough, shortness of breath, mucus, and other such issues.
If you have COPD, or other similar respiratory or breathing ailments, then high amounts of airborne particles and pollutants can worsen your symptoms. If you live with a smoker, for example, the symptoms induced by COPD will be twice as bad. Air pollution can also lead to lung swelling and congestion problems.
Air purifiers, as we’ve already discussed, remove many of the contaminants from the air, such as dust, pollen, and debris. Some air purifiers also remove odors and smoke. As such, your immediate atmosphere places less pressure on your lungs. While air purifiers don’t treat COPD, they can help you breathe cleaner air, which can prevent the situation from deteriorating and ease some of the symptoms of the disease.
Are air purifiers good for asthma?
Air purifiers don’t treat asthma, but they can drastically minimize the recurrence of asthma attacks. Air purifiers clean the air and remove airborne allergens and dust, thereby minimizing the presence of asthma triggers. As such, if you have asthma, air purifiers will offer considerable relief.
Will air purifiers help with cigarette smoke?
High-quality HEPA filter air purifiers with activated carbon filters can capture smoke and odors. As such, air purifiers can drastically help by getting rid of secondhand smoke from the atmosphere.
Will air purifiers help with radon?
Radon is an odorless and invisible naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can lead to respiratory ailments and even lung cancer.
Air purifiers with extremely powerful carbon filters can reduce the level of radon in your home by a small margin. However, air purifiers can’t stop the radon gas from leaking. And the true efficacy of air purifiers in radon-reduction is also contested — while some sources claim air purifiers can reduce radon, others claim they can’t.
If you believe your home may have some radon, you should get a radon test kit and hire a radon specialist if the test is positive.