The Truth About Air Purifiers: Separating Fact from Fiction

Learn about the effectiveness of air purifiers in improving indoor air quality and their impact on COVID-19 prevention. Understand the different types of air purifiers and how to choose the right one for your needs.

The Truth About Air Purifiers: Separating Fact from Fiction

As an expert in the field of indoor air quality, I have been asked countless times about the effectiveness of air purifiers. With the growing concerns about air pollution and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people are turning to air purifiers as a solution. But do they really make a significant difference in improving the air quality in your home? Let's take a closer look. First and foremost, it's important to understand that air purifiers do not eliminate all harmful particles from your home. While they can help reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, many particles can still remain on soft surfaces such as furniture, carpets, and bedding.

This is why it's crucial to also regularly clean and vacuum these surfaces to truly improve indoor air quality. So, what about their effectiveness against COVID-19? According to Dr. Brauer, an air purifier can lower the amount of viral particles in the air, which may decrease your risk of infection. However, it's essential to note that this does not provide complete protection if you are in close contact with someone who has the virus. In this case, wearing masks is still the most effective measure. If you're considering purchasing an air purifier, it's crucial to understand the different technologies used and how to select and use them properly.

This fact sheet provides all the information you need to make an informed decision. Using an air purifier can be a valuable strategy in improving indoor air quality (IAQ). For more information on IAQ, refer to the environmental health and safety guide on this topic.

The Science Behind Air Purifiers

There are various types of air purifiers on the market, each utilizing different technologies to clean the air. One study found that the efficacy of air purifiers increased in the presence of candles and incense smoke, with smaller particles being removed more efficiently than larger ones.

However, it's important to note that ozone, a common technology used in air purifiers, is generally ineffective in controlling indoor air pollution at lower concentrations. Another crucial factor to consider is the accuracy of the air quality data provided by the purifier. While it may provide the same information as looking at the machine, it can also collect air quality trends for those who are interested in that type of data. Research has also shown that HEPA air purifiers can effectively reduce smoke particles in the air, but may not be as effective against nicotine and other gaseous components of smoke.

The Impact on Indoor Air Quality

One study found that a greater reduction in ion mass concentration occurred after the deployment of an air purifier in the presence of sources such as candles and incense. This highlights the importance of using an air purifier in conjunction with other measures to improve indoor air quality. Finally, it's crucial to consider the overall impact on indoor air quality. While air purifiers can help reduce pollutants in the air, they should not be relied upon as the sole solution.

The improvement in IAQ should be reflected in the quantitative risk to health posed by the installation of air purifiers. This means that while they may help reduce pollutants, they may not completely eliminate them.

The Different Types of Air Purifiers

There are two main types of air purifiers: mechanical filters and electronic filters. Mechanical filters, such as HEPA filters, work by passing air through a filter that captures pollutants before returning clean air to the room. On the other hand, electronic filters use electrical voltage to convert oxygen molecules into charged ionic components that inactivate airborne pollutants.

While both types can be effective, it's crucial to consider your specific needs and goals when choosing an air purifier. One study found that mechanical filters can reduce cations by 20-99% and anions by 14-40%. This shows their effectiveness in reducing pollutants in the air. However, it's important to note that electronic filters, while effective, may also produce ozone gas and other pollutants that can be hazardous to health. For this reason, it's recommended to use mechanical filters instead.

The Bottom Line

So, do air purifiers make a significant difference? The answer is yes, but with some caveats.

They can help reduce pollutants in the air and improve indoor air quality, but they should not be relied upon as the sole solution. It's crucial to also regularly clean and vacuum soft surfaces and consider other measures such as wearing masks for protection against COVID-19. When choosing an air purifier, opt for mechanical filters over electronic ones for the safest and most effective option. With proper use and understanding of their limitations, air purifiers can be a valuable tool in improving indoor air quality.

Eloise Grosshans
Eloise Grosshans

Avid coffee lover. Lifelong music lover. General internet evangelist. Infuriatingly humble music advocate. Professional pop culture expert. Hardcore tea nerd.