Are Air Purifiers Worth It?
Nov 26, 2013 04:20PM ● Published by tina
Sponsored by Berkeys Air Conditioning and Plumbing
Suffering through the sniffling and sneezing searching for some relief? Some of us suffer all year long with indoor allergies. If you are plagued by allergies or asthma, you have probably considered buying an air purifier. But is it worth the trouble and the expense? Will it even help?
Indoor air can be 10 times more polluted than the air outside. Moisture and humidity cause mold and mildew to grow. Air conditioning systems circulate dust and bacteria throughout the house — pet dander and fur, too. Smokers also pump even more toxins into the air. Pollen and other outdoor allergens are brought indoors through open doors and windows and on our clothes. The building itself releases toxins from the building materials. Everything from the carpet and upholstery to the wood and drywall emits some sort of toxin. Buying an air purifier seems like an easy decision, right? Before you buy, you should do extensive research. There are so many air purifiers out there — some work and others don’t.
These purifiers charge air particles to attract and remove contaminates from the air. These charged particles have a small but intense electrical field that attracts particles in the air that clump together and settle out of the air. However, they are still there in your environment.
An ozone generator is similar to an ionizing purifier, but it alters molecules of the oxygen and turns them into ozone. Manufacturers claim the ozone deodorizes and disinfects the air. But, ozone is not a stable molecule and it will readily combine with other chemicals that may be in the air. This can create new compounds that can be more dangerous than the ozone itself. Ozone can also be an irritant that aggravates asthma and may cause lung damage.
Many purifiers use an adsorbent material (like activated charcoal) to remove odors, fumes and chemicals from the air. The charcoal's surface is very porous and has a high surface area to capture air contaminates.
Ultraviolet radiation renders certain microorganisms harmless by sterilizing the air as it passes through, eliminating the potential harm of airborne bacteria and viruses.
Filters (air cleaners)
Some air purifiers (including HEPA — High Efficiency Particulate Air filters) pass the air through removable filters that trap contaminates. You will have to replacing the filters regularly to keep them functioning properly, which can get expensive. They can also restrict airflow through the system, which causes a drop in overall efficiency.
Scientific testing revealed many air purifiers weren't effective. Some of the models tested by Consumer Reports didn’t perform well. Some air purifiers were quiet enough to use in a bedroom while sleeping, but other models only worked well at higher (and louder) speeds, which were too loud for sleeping. Some models didn’t circulate enough air through the machine to be effective. Manufacturer recommendations call for a certain size air purifiers for a specific size room. However, some purifiers were found to clean more air running at a lower speed than a smaller one run at a higher speed.
Some doctors and HVAC professionals don’t usually recommend buying any air purifier before making improvements to the indoor air quality. Such as:
· Ban smoking inside and outside the house.
· Use the HVAC system to circulate the air. Replace all the filters regularly.
· Replace carpeting with smooth flooring instead. It is much easier to keep clean.
· Keep the pets outside when possible. If keeping them in the yard isn’t always an option, keep them out of the bedrooms and off the furniture.
· Keep your windows and doors closed (at home, in the car, etc.). Pollen and other outdoor contaminates will get into your clothes.
· Use the hottest water possible when doing your laundry to eliminate dust mites.
· Avoid furniture that collects dust.
If you have tried these tactics (or others), and you’re still suffering, it might be time to consider adding an air filter. Of course, there are different options to consider. But, an air purifier alone won’t relieve asthma or allergy symptoms.
In-duct air filters are placed inside the air ducts in each room of your home behind the vents. Most HVAC systems already have a filter at the central air return before the air goes back into the HVAC unit. Adding in-duct filters increases frequency that the air is filtered. This also means more filters to buy and replace regularly.
If you don’t have an HVAC system, a portable air cleaner may be your best option. These air purifiers use a fan to circulate the air and one (or more) air cleaning systems described earlier. These types of air cleaners might be portable, but they can only clean the air in one room at a time. If you do decide to purchase an air purifier, it is recommended to buy a model that does not produce even a small amount of ozone.
Your HVAC professionals, like Berkeys, can help you breathe easier. Most have service or maintenance plans to keep your HVAC system in top condition. They can also provide advice and equipment to humidify and improve indoor air quality.