What You Need to Know About Indoor Air Purifiers

It’s easy to assume that the air we breathe in our homes or workspaces is clean—most tiny particles and pollutants in the air are invisible to the naked eye! However, if you suffer from indoor allergies, asthma, or are sensitive to microscopic irritants in your home, you may find relief from stubborn symptoms and breathe easier with the help of an air purifier.

What are Air Purifiers and How Do They Work?

Portable air purifiers (those that are contained to just one room in the house) are devices that are designed to improve the air quality in your home by cleansing the air and filtering out particles, allergens, smoke, odors, and more that may have a negative impact on your or your family’s health. You may be surprised to know that it is common for homes to contain higher levels of pollutants than the outdoors! This can be attributed to several factors including increased use of synthetic materials, furnishings, personal care items, household cleaners, or pesticides.

In effort to filter out these irritants, air purifiers usually include a filter or multiple filters, and a fan that inhales and circulates the air. After the air is sucked in, it moves through the filters where the particles are captured and separated, and the clean air is released back into the living space. These filters are most commonly made of paper or fiberglass and require regular replacement to ensure the air purifier is working efficiently. How frequently you need to change the filters depends on the type of purifier you’re using as well as how often you use it.

Common Types of Air Purifier Filters

Not all air purifier filters are created equal! Three of the most common types on the market today are HEPA filters, UV filters, and electrostatic filters, and all three have different functions to help rid your home’s air of irritants. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

HEPA Filters

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are the most highly recommended by the U.S. Department of Health because they can remove at least 99.9% of airborne allergens and pollutants. That includes both mold spores and dust! They offer the most protection for your home and, in turn, the most protection for those with allergies or asthma. A major pro of using a HEPA filter is how efficient they are at purifying the air and capturing larger pollutants like dander and pollen that makes its way inside. Plus, they only need to be changed every few years.

UV Filters

UV filters use short-wave UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, and mold spores that can be harmful for your health and allergies. One important point to note is that UV filters can be hazardous when they transform the oxygen into ozone. Even lower amounts of ozone can result in coughing or chest pain. And while UV filters do an excellent job eliminating bacteria and viruses, they aren’t as efficient at filtering our pollutants like dust. That is why they are usually paired with a HEPA filter that can rid your home of larger particles.

Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic filters are exactly what they sound like: small cotton and paper fibers, these filters create static that attracts dust and larger particles to keep them from spreading throughout your home. They are one of the more popular filters for allergy sufferers! A great bonus for these filters is that they can either be disposed and replaced or reused if you are trying to be more environmentally conscious. They are also one of the more cost-effective choices on the market today.

How to Choose the Right Air Purifier

We all want the same thing: cleaner air! But with different preferences, home sizes, health concerns, and budgets, it’s important to find the right air purifier to fit our specific needs. Here are a few things to consider when trying to find the right one for you and your home.

  1. Why do you need an air purifier?
    If you are simply looking to breathe cleaner air but have no immediate health concerns, you will want a different purifier than someone who struggles with allergies or asthma. For those looking to rid the air of allergens, it is best to choose a unit with HEPA filters. As we know, these are an excellent option for removing airborne particles. For those with respiratory issues looking to remove excess smoke from the home, there are specific smoke purifiers on the market designed to remove fireplace soot and other fumes that can aggravate existing conditions.
  2. What size purifier do you need?
    First, it is best to consider the square footage of the room you would like to purify. If you have allergies or asthma and would like to find a purifier to help manage your symptoms, it is important to consider the unit’s ACH rate. This is the total number of times an air purifier can filter the volume of air in the room per hour. An air purifier that can clean the air about four times per hour is the best for those with allergies.
  3. What are the most important features I need?
    Some air purifiers simply perform their job, and others have all the bells and whistles—it is important to decide what you want and need! Do you want to save money or energy with your air purifier? If so, Energy Star-rated units are a great option. Would you like to control your purifier from your phone via wi-fi? There are those that have that built-in capability! Would you like to know your home’s air quality in real-time? You can get that, too! Think about what is most important to you and would help you breathe a little easier.
  4. What is the air purifier’s CADR rating?
    Most air purifiers are labeled with a CADR (clean air delivery rate) number that helps customers understand how effective the unit is at filtering out various particles. A CADR of 200 for pollen means that the purifier can reduce the concentration of pollen by adding 200 cubic feet of fresh air per minute. The higher the number, the faster the air purifier can remove particles. It is important to note that a purifier’s CADR rating simply reflects the best-case scenario. Testing is done in a controlled environment and doesn’t take into account different variables in your home that could affect the rating one way or another. However, if you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma, a higher CADR rating, the better!
  5. How portable is the air purifier?
    Air purifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and some are easier to transport from room to room than others. The smallest purifiers can sit on a desk, while others are best to be kept stationary in one room. If you want to use your purifier in multiple rooms or follow you throughout the house when you’d like, you’ll want to size down to ensure portability while maintaining your needs for purifying the air of the room you are in.

There isn’t one air purifier for everyone, so it is important to use these tips as a guide for choosing the right unit for you and your family’s needs. If you have additional questions or need to know how best to support your health concerns, Dr. Praveen Buddiga is just a phone call away. He has worked with hundreds of patients to understand, diagnose, and treat stubborn allergy and asthma symptoms, and help them find relief. Schedule your consultation today to ensure you are on the right path to breathing a little easier.

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