Could you ever guess that indoor air quality is, on average, worse than outdoor air quality? Among many, the most common airborne pollutants found in your place include allergens, VOCs, mold, pet dander, and odors. All these particles can give rise to continuous headaches, allergies, and even asthma.
Hence, an ever-growing number of people are looking for ways to tackle the issue and improve their home environment. Besides regular cleaning and ventilation, air purifiers can trap toxic chemicals, dust, and viruses. More so, these devices promise to filter and freshen the surrounding air.
Below, we’ll give you an overview of air purifiers, along with the ups and downs of prolonged use. We’ll also help you resolve the dilemma ‘Are air purifiers a waste of money.’ Keep reading to find out what’s the right path to take.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
Commercial air purifiers contain a fan that collects the air around them. Once in the appliance, the air moves through the filters that catch pollutants and gets recirculated into the room. The tiniest particles it can eliminate include pollen, dust, mold, viruses, and some bacteria.
The most common filters are charcoal, which removes odors, and HEPA. The latter boasts a 99.7% efficiency in capturing particles down to .3 microns. Moreover, standard air purifier versions also contain a pre-filter that captures larger particles.
Most homeowners go for portable purifiers with the capacity to purge individual rooms. If your device contains proper filters and powerful airflow, it can clean an average room in 30 minutes. But if you want a solution for the entire place, consider a version integrated into the HVAC system.
Before we go into more detail, it’s vital to understand that air purifiers don’t remove every contaminant. Yet, improved filters and HVAC systems can lower indoor air pollution significantly.
Perks Of Using An Air Purifier
Let’s explore the many ways in which air purifiers enhance your daily life quality. Below are some indisputable benefits of having a filtration system at home.
One way to tell whether an air purifier works is the amount of dust that builds up on surfaces around your house. Dust comprises many airborne pollutants, such as pollen, mold, hair, human skin cells, and pest debris.
A highly-efficient HEPA filter can remove all these particles and reduce the need to clean as often as you did. Yet, air purifiers will not clear out the dirt and dust accumulated on surfaces.
Inhalation of allergens and tiny particles like pollen, pet dander, and mold can trigger many allergies and asthma. Once inhaled, they cause sneezing, coughing, and nose congestion. An air purifier can improve the quality of indoor air by eliminating harmful allergens.
The rationale behind using a HEPA filter is that it traps the source of your symptoms. Hence, your allergy has no way to develop or activate an immune response. With continued use, you will prevent pollutants from entering your home and experience fewer reactions. Finally, you can also use a dehumidifier to reduce the growth of mold.
Household Odors Removal
Smelly food like fish and garlic, tobacco, pet gases, and gas stoves worsen the condition of indoor air. Also, ovens produce nitrogen dioxide that causes respiratory and cardiovascular issues. Opening windows and running exhaust hoods won’t remove all pungent smells from your home. Using sprays and candles will only mask the problem.
Your best shot to get rid of unpleasant odors is to run an air purifier. More so, an activated carbon filter can catch all odors and fumes that slip past HEPA fibers. After treatment, the charcoal filer creates a more neutral, fresher-smelling space.
Harmful Chemicals Absorption
Volatile organic compounds or VOC come from many sources. From cleaning and beauty products to wall paint and furniture, they are harmful to your respiratory health. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of VOCs can spur asthmatic symptoms.
Activated carbon filters adsorb toxic chemicals coming both from indoor and outdoor sources. To this end, replace the filter regularly because the surface area can soon get saturated and no longer trap pollutants.
Sleep Quality Improvement
Sleeping with a running purifier will result in a restful night since the appliance keeps air cleanliness at an optimal level. Plus, the latest versions produce soothing sounds that help you fall asleep faster and enable lengthy rest periods.
When inhaled, clean air also improves your mood and reduces stress levels. This benefit comes as a result of decreased cortisol levels, which give you peace of mind.
Disadvantages Of Air Purifiers
Besides the upsides, it’s worth listing a few downsides to having an air purifier at home or in your office. Once you’re aware of both the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision.
For any purifier to live up to your expectations, you need to maintain it by schedule. Most devices have two to four replicable filters. Hence, you must change them as instructed by the manufacturer to keep the device high-powered.
Depending on the model, you have to replace filters every four to eight months. Unlike the HEPA filter, the activated carbon one requires more frequent changes. For models with permanent filters that don’t need changing, on-time washing is vital.
Also, how long you will use the device comes down to where you live and how many hours a day you’re using it. In a word, no one-size-fits-all solution exists when it comes to replacing an air purifier. The average lifespan of a store-bought device ranges from three to five years.
Some devices come with ionizers and give off ozone which is a harmful gas. Others emit ozone as a byproduct, so you must pay attention to this when selecting the right purifier. Another threat that lingers is the worsened condition of the air once the filters get clogged and not so efficient.
Most manufacturers claim that the efficiency rate of their products is over 99%, but this is pretentious. Companies test purifiers in controlled conditions and on the highest setting. Since every home is different and you’ll probably be using lower settings, the percentage can drop. Also, air cleaners can’t reach embedded contaminants such as dust mites in mattresses, carpets, and upholstery.
The average product uses 100 watts or 0.1 kilowatts of electricity an hour. Hence, running an air purifier for 12 hours every day will you 16 cents, or 5 dollars a month. It’s an expense that you must consider and budget for before buying the appliance.
Not everyone can stand the noise produced by air purifiers as higher settings make annoying sounds. Some air purifiers create up to 70 decibels, which resembles traffic noise and can be a nuisance, particularly during the night.
Air Purifiers To Avoid
Specific air purifiers available on the market are best when avoided. Pay attention to devices with the following features when choosing a ventilation system for your place:
- Since ozone harms your lungs, consider passing by ozone air purifiers.
- No HEPA filters. HEPA filters are the gold standard for clean air and are responsible for removing tiny particles.
- Avoid untested and unproven models. Only advanced gas-phase filtration can provide you with all the benefits listed above.
- Forget about one-room ventilation. Installing a whole-house system will give you the purest air. You can even integrate it within your heating and cooling structure.
- Steer away from UV light. UV-based devices produce ozone, do nothing about pollutants, and can harm your skin and eyes.
So, Are Air Purifiers Worth It?
Before we answer this, you must understand that air purifiers aren’t a magical solution to pollution. No product or appliance can provide a 100% sterilized and particle-free environment. Moreover, medical studies supporting the claim that air cleaners directly improve your health are scarce.
It is often challenging to separate the impact of common pollutants from genetic and environmental factors. The level of pollution in the area will further affect the efficiency of the device. Yet, a high-quality air purifier with charcoal and HEPA filters will ease many allergies and respiratory symptoms. Getting one for the sake of removing fine airborne particles is a wise decision.
Are Air Purifiers Effective Against COVID-19?
Using an air purifier is advisable as an additional way to protect yourself and your family in less ventilated areas. The novel coronavirus spreads through airborne aerosols and droplets, and air purifier filters can capture these pathogens. In a word, a highly-efficient HEPA filter will lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Yet, even renowned manufacturers haven’t managed to test their products against COVID-19. More so, air filtration won’t suffice to protect you from COVID-19 transmission. When used with other best practices, an air purifier can diminish airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors.
Though air purifiers aren’t a cure-all, they can fight off many harmful pollutants and chemicals. Hence, if you select the right purifier that fits your home and needs, it can be worth buying. Finally, regular maintenance and proper use will extend its lifespan and help you lead a healthier life.