How to Choose the Best Air Purifier for Your Needs

Indoor air pollution is a serious problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution levels are two to five times higher indoors. In some buildings without proper ventilation, the air inside can be 100 times more polluted than the air outside! This is because modern buildings are built with energy efficiency in mind. However, the tight seals that make a home energy efficient also trap pollutants inside. On top of that, the average American takes nine out of ten breaths indoors, so making sure your indoor air is free of allergens and other impurities is imperative.

Air purifiers remove allergens, toxic chemicals and other dangerous pollutants. This article explains why people use air purifiers, how they work, which air purifiers you should avoid, and how to choose the air purifier that best suits your needs.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants

What is the source of indoor air pollution? In terms of organic pollutants, mold and dust mites are ubiquitous and are the two most common causes of year-round allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Pollen is also a common allergen that gets into your home all the time because it’s so small and sticky. If you have pets, they certainly spread their danger to every corner of your home. Many viruses and bacteria are also transmitted through the air.

Although they are not organic allergens, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) cause many people to experience allergic reactions and other health problems. VOCs include formaldehyde, fragrances, pesticides, solvents and cleaning agents. VOCs can enter the air through chemical outgassing from furniture, new carpets, adhesives, plastics and various building materials. Also, many VOCs are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide may also be present in your indoor air, and toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury vapor, and radon may also be present in the air.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

HEPA air purifiers use a HEPA air filter developed by the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1940s as a way to filter out radioactive pollutants. HEPA filters set the standard for air cleaners: To be classified as HEPA, a filter must capture a minimum of 99.97% of pollutants of 0.3 microns or larger. Best-selling HEPA air cleaners include the Austin Air cleaner, which comes with a HEGA (High Efficiency Gas Adsorption) filter, and air cleaners from IQAir, Allerair, Blueair, and Honeywell.

Activated carbon filters remove gases, odors and chemical toxins. Carbon is “activated” when it is treated with oxygen, which opens millions of tiny pores to attract and adsorb chemicals. Impregnated carbon filters are normally treated with an additional chemical such as potassium iodide or potassium permanganate; These chemicals, known as chemical absorbers, enhance the carbon filter’s ability to capture VOCs and other chemically reactive gases.

Electrostatic filters use an electrostatic charge to attract contaminants and retain them in collector plates. These filters are great for people who don’t want to worry about replacing their HEPA filters, but they quickly lose efficiency if the collecting plates are not cleaned frequently. Also note that some electrostatic filters emit ozone, which is known to be a strong lung irritant and can be very irritating to some people with asthma or allergies. The Friedrich air cleaner is the best electrostatic air cleaner to date, as well as the top overall air cleaner in previous Consumer Reports rankings.

Charged media filters impart an electrostatic charge before collecting contaminants in a conventional filter. Loaded media filters are typically quite effective, but like electrostatic filters, they quickly lose efficiency and may require frequent and expensive filter changes. Some charged ambient air filter units also emit ozone. The advantage of rechargeable media filters is that they are quieter and more energy efficient than HEPA air cleaners. The Blueair air purifier is the best cordless media filter and does not emit ozone.

Where and How to Use Air Purifier?

If you have allergies (especially if you are allergic to dust mite allergens), the best place for an air purifier is in your bedroom. Having fresh air in your bedroom is very important because you spend about a third of your life there. If you are allergic to pet dander and you have pets, you may want to place an air purifier in the room where your pets spend most of their time and keep pets out of your bedroom! Also, you should not place an air purifier in the corner of a room; should be at least a few feet away from walls for maximum airflow.

For optimum performance, you should run your air cleaner continuously. Most air purifiers have high and low settings. We recommend that you run your air purifier on a low level, even if you are on vacation. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a house full of polluted air! If you’re worried about your electricity bill, find out how much energy an air purifier uses before you buy it. Typical HEPA air purifiers can use anywhere from 50 watts low to 200 watts high. For comparison, a typical lamp uses about 60 watts, while a typical computer uses about 365 watts.

Air Purifiers to Avoid

Avoid ozone generators and ionizing air purifiers. These air purifiers create ions that attract pollutants; however, most of the pollutants are released back into the air, often leading to dirty spots on nearby walls. Ozone generators and ionizer purifiers do not clean the air well, but they also emit ozone. Ozone, the main component of smoke, can potentially lead to a serious asthma attack.

Also, David Peden, a researcher at the University of North Carolina Center for Environmental Medicine and Lung Biology, has studied how ozone exposure exacerbates the allergic response of people allergic to dust mites, and his results show that ozone worsens asthmatics. reaction. The EPA has warned consumers against using ozone generators, and Consumer Reports advises against the newest Ionic Breeze Quadra, despite the addition of OzoneGuard, a device that aims to remove some of the dangerous ozone emitted by Ionic Breeze.

Consumer Reports states: “Our air purification tests show that the Ionic Breeze with OzoneGuard does a poor job of removing smoke, dust and pollen particles from the air when new and after 500 hours of continuous use” and the “Ionic Breeze with OzoneGuard” still adds ozone to the air “

How to Buy the Best Air Purifier

The air purifier market is vast and filled with confusing and often misleading advertising schemes. If you’re shopping for an air purifier, you should first consider what kind of pollutants you’re trying to remove. For example, if you have problems with cigarette smoke, you’ll want to make sure your air cleaner is capable of removing fumes, VOCs, and other gases.

You may also want to consider the following factors before purchasing an air purifier: area coverage (make sure the square footage listed for the air purifier is approximately the same or slightly larger than the square footage of the room you intend to use); ACH rating (Air Changes Per Hour – this number lets you know how often the air cleaner can replace all the air in a given room); CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate tells you how much air is cleaned and how well it is cleaned); price; how often you need to change filters and their cost; the noise level of the air cleaner; energy use; does it emit ozone; extra features (like filter change indicator light); the reputation of the manufacturer; and warranty.

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