Did you know that the air you breath is full of millions of microscopic particles which you inhale in every single breath? A few years ago, Environmental Protection Agency claimed that pollution levels inside the home can be up to five times more polluted then the air outside! This obviously depends on how well ventilated your house is, where you live, and the kind of household products that you use, but it is something to think about.
Everyone could benefit from breathing clean, allergy-free air, but these microscopic particles are a particular problem for asthma and allergy sufferers as they can irritate your lungs and/or activate your allergic reactions.
But My House Is Clean!
Cleaning your house regularly is very important, but it can actually make your allergies worse. When you hoover and dust, you may actually disturb these particles and push them back into the air which you will then breath.
This obviously doesn’t mean you should avoid dusting your house, and even if you do buy an air purifier it is still important that you regularly clean your surfaces, furniture and floors, but if you want an extra clean living environment you may want to clean your air as well.
So how do you get rid of these particles? How can you make your air clean? This is where air purifiers come in!
What Are Air Purifiers?
Air purifiers are devices which can remove allergens, pollutants, particles, spores and more from the air in your home/car to stop you breathing in these harmful particles. Some air purifiers contain a filter and they work by sucking air into the filter, capturing allergens and other harmful particles, and then they expel clean and fresh air which you will breathe. Other air purifiers may attack harmful particles in the air directly. Some air purifiers can be installed in your home to purifier the air of multiple rooms, but most of the ones you will buy online are designed for one room.
What Are Air Purifiers Used For?
Air purifiers are used to clean the air within a household of harmful particles, allergens, and sometimes even bacteria and viruses. Air purifiers are often used by people with allergies to help alleviate their symptoms, they can be used to get rid of bad odours, and some air purifiers can even help prevent the spread of disease. Some people may also use air purifiers to combat second-hand smoke.
Different air purifiers use different filtration methods and these methods are beneficial for different things. These methods include:
HEPA stands for ‘High-Efficiency Particulate Air’. These filters were first used during the 1940s ‘Manhattan Project’ when they were designed to help control and eliminate radioactive particles. HEPA filters first became commercially popular within the 1950s, and they continue to be popular with consumers today.
These filters are basically screens (or mats) which are made out of randomly arranged fibres (normally fibreglass) and they use a combination of interception, impaction and diffusion to capture particles.
HEPA filters have been proven to catch up to 99.97% of all airborne particles and allergens, so it’s not surprising that HEPA filters are typically marketed to allergy sufferers and people with asthma. HEPA filters do not eradicate bad smells themselves, but they can be bought in conjunction with a carbon filter (see below) which can take care of odour and allergens at the same time.
It’s important that you distinguish between a ‘true’ HEPA filter and a Hepa-like filter. True HEPA filters are able to capture most particles over 0.3 microns in size and even below that, but HEPA-style filters tend to be less effective.
Some HEPA filters have been designed with bacteria-killing properties which can help eradicate viruses, bacteria and germs from the air in addition to allergens, but not all HEPA filters have this feature. Air purifiers which contain HEPA filters may also use one or more of the air purification methods listed below.
Activated Carbon Filter
Carbon filters are designed to help eradicate bad smells including cigarette smoke, paint fumes, pet odours, cooking smells etc. Activated carbon filters use a bed of carbon to absorb odours, remove containments and purifies the air.
HEPA filters are great at removing particles, but they may not be able to eradicate bad smells. This is why you will often find HEPA and activated carbon filters in the same unit as they offer more benefits together than they do separately.
The name may sound vaguely science fiction-like, but the concept is pretty simple. Ionic generators send out negative ions which catch airborne particles and make them too heavy to remain airborne. Airborne particles like dust, pollen, pet dander and other allergens are likely to be positively charged, which means that the negative ions are attracted to them and will latch onto them. In theory, this means that an ionic generator can get rid of particles which are too small for a HEPA filter.
When a negative ion attaches itself to the allergen, it will fall to the floor, land on a surface and/or be trapped by the filter itself. This type of air filtration system is effective, but if you choose to buy on you will need to start cleaning your house more.
Some people believe that negative ions are good for the mind, body and soul. Negative ions are often found in nature, whilst positive ions tend to be present in areas of pollution. Negative ions may be able to improve your health, increase your energy levels, help elevate your mood and reduce stress.
However, some people also have concerns about the safety of ionic generators because they create small amounts of ozone. Ozone can irritate the lungs and is not recommended for people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
UV air purifiers are designed to fight airborne bacteria and viruses. UV radiation can effectively damage the DNA of harmful airborne particles, viruses and bacteria and stop them being able to reproduce. This is a very effective way of eliminating risk from these particles because they can’t harm you if they can’t reproduce and they will be unable to spread disease.
UV air purifiers are often used in hospitals to stop the spread of illness between patients, and they could be very helpful during the winter months to stop the colds which seem to spread from person to person for months on end.
UV purifiers can eradicate small particles like viruses (which often measure to under 0.1 microns) whilst HEPA filters may be less effective at removing harmful airborne particles which are smaller than 0.3 microns.
UV filters don’t use an actual filter process and so you won’t have to worry about an ineffective filter swirling dirty air around.
Some air purifiers will include a HEPA filter, an active carbon filter, an ioniser and UV light to help ensure your air is as clean as possible.
Some UV air purifiers will emit small levels of ozone which we know can be harmful to the lungs.
Hopefully, this guide has explained what different air purifiers are used for and what benefits different systems can give you.
Not all air purifiers are created equal, and not all air purifiers which serve the same function are as effective as each other, so it’s important to read individual product reviews to get a clearer idea of what you can expect from the air purifier in question.
If you want to eliminate odours, capture allergens, kill viruses and benefit from negative ions then you should be able to buy a device which has multiple features.