Do air purifiers work? There’s a reason most of us have wondered this at some point in time. It’s that at least half of us don’t even understand how they work or what they’re supposed to do.
Meanwhile, the debate on whether or not air purifiers work rages on. Well, we’re here to clarify the issue once and for all.
In this guide, you’ll learn what air purifiers do, what they don’t do, and when they’re most/least effective. We bust the myths and reveal the facts so you can judge them for yourself.
If you’re considering buying an air purifier or you just want to know more, read this guide.
To understand if air purifiers are effective, we must examine what their actual function is. And, before we do that, we must understand that not all air purifiers have the same function.
There is a variety of air purifiers that use different methods to remove different pollutants from the air. And, since it’s illegal to falsely advertise, you can find accurate information about this on each air purifier’s product label. Regardless, here are a few popular types and what they do.
Ionic air filters use ionizers like a magnet to attract pollutants from the air. You’ve seen how a balloon charged with static electricity can stick to someone’s hair or clothes. This is exactly the same way ionic air filters work.
They have the advantage of being quiet and cheap. But they’re not as effective as HEPA filters at removing indoor air pollutants.
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters work like the air filters in your HVAC, your vacuum, your car’s engine, etc. They have tiny holes small enough for only air to pass through, but not pollutants. As the fan blows air through the filter, the pollutants are trapped.
Since the holes are small enough to trap even microscopic pollutants, these filters are very effective. People with asthma and other breathing problems caused/aggravated by these particulate pollutants will absolutely benefit from a HEPA air purifier.
Beware of any ionic filter or other system that markets itself as an “ozone generator.” If it says at all that it produces ozone, don’t buy it.
It sounds like a good thing, like the Earth’s natural ozone layer we try to protect. But the ozone produced by these machines is actually a toxic pollutant in and of itself.
The acceptable purifiers above are effective at removing any and all particulate indoor air pollutants (according to the product label). That is, as long as it’s a particle of something floating around, the purifier will catch it.
These purifiers will not, however, remove toxic gasses from the air. Gaseous toxins float right through with the air, including:
If your location is plagued by excessive gaseous toxins, like those in car exhaust, only shutting your windows might keep them out. Even then, keeping your windows shut increases indoor carbon dioxide from your breath. This is the major limitation of air purifying systems.
The question of do air purifiers work for you depends on your situation. If your indoor air pollutants are mostly particulates like dust and pollen, they’re extremely effective. That’s especially true for those with respiratory problems.
If it’s toxic gasses you’re concerned about, we’re afraid they won’t be much help.
Speaking of which, we hope you found this guide very helpful. If so, please check out more great articles on our blog, starting with Why Clean Air Conditioner Filters are Important.