If you spend a lot of time inside, the quality of the indoor air can matter a lot to your health and comfort. Pets, dust, smoke, cooking and cleaning all release particles into the air that can irritate your lungs and contribute to asthma symptoms. While opening windows can help by bringing fresh air directly into your home, it’s not an option during the winter when it’s cold out or during the summer if you’re using an air conditioner. With an air purifier, you can enjoy fresh, clean air in your home all year round.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
Different air purifiers work in different ways, but most rely on some combination of filtration, neutralization, trapping and destroying pollutants. In general, they work by pulling air into the unit, treating it to remove pollutants and particles, and then sending the clean air back out into the room.
Ionizing air purifiers use negatively charged ions to bind to particulates in the air and then trap them on a collecting plate inside the unit. Although you have to clean the collecting plates to get rid of the pollutants, these purifiers don’t have filters that need replacing, so their long-term cost of ownership can be lower.
Some air purifiers use ultraviolet (UV) light to break apart the molecules of bacteria and viruses, rendering them harmless. This type of purifier is useful for dealing with microbes and pathogens, but it doesn’t address dust or other large particles.
To handle the widest possible range of air pollutants, most purifiers also include at least one type of air filter. Two of the most common types are activated carbon filters and HEPA filters.
What is an activated carbon filter?
Activated carbon filters are particularly effective against chemical vapours, including volatile organic compounds, making them the best type of filter for dealing with unwanted odours.
What Is a HEPA Filter?
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are an advanced type of filter made of thousands of very fine plastic or fibreglass fibres that can trap particles in multiple ways. That makes them much more effective than filters made of porous materials that rely primarily on direct impact to capture particulates. Certified HEPA filters remove more than 99.9% of particles 0.3 micron in size (for comparison, a human blood cell is about 5 microns wide). They can be even more effective at trapping larger and smaller particles. As a result, they are widely considered the industry standard for removing most airborne particles, including dust, pollen, mould and bacteria.
What Are the Benefits of an Air Purifier?
There are several good reasons to treat your indoor air with an air purifier:
Relieves Asthma and Allergies
Airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust mites can cause asthma or allergic reactions in some people, making your home uncomfortable or even dangerous to their health in severe cases. An air purifier with a certified HEPA filter can help alleviate allergic and asthma symptoms by reducing the number of airborne allergens people breathe in.
Dust is made up of a variety of particulates, including pollen, mould spores, dust mites, skin cells, human and pet hair, and other debris — none of which you really want to be breathing. An air purifier with a HEPA filter can trap a lot of that dust before it has a chance to settle on surfaces, so your air is cleaner and you have less housework to do.
Odours are caused by volatilized chemical compounds, most of which are organic (carbon-based). While some are considered pleasant and used in air fresheners, perfumes and personal care products, others are unpleasant or even unhealthy, such as those found in smoke, mould, cleaning products and some building materials. Sensory and physiological reactions to odours can vary from person to person, and those who are especially sensitive may want to eliminate as many odours from their home as possible. Air purifiers with activated carbon filters are usually the best at trapping and neutralizing the odour-causing molecules that can make your home smell unpleasant or trigger reactions, whether they come from cooking, a new carpet or your favourite cleaning product.
Smoke from any source, including cigarettes, fires and cooking mishaps, can cause health issues if inhaled. It can also cause eye irritation, smell unpleasant and leave unsightly stains. Air purifiers with both activated carbon and HEPA filters will help eliminate both the odours of smoke and visible smoke particles. However, it should be noted that air purifiers do not remove nicotine from indoor air and, even with an air purifier, repeated smoke exposure may still stain walls and fabrics.
Reduces Mould Spores
Mould spores pose a range of health risks, including eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing and wheezing. They can also worsen asthmas symptoms or trigger allergies, and some can even cause severe lung infections. The most effective air purifiers for mould will include a HEPA filter, an activated carbon filter and a UV light to trap the spores, reduce their odour and destroy them at the molecular level. But bear in mind that mould thrives in damp environments, so in addition to an air purifier, you should also try to keep humidity levels in your home low.
Reduces Airborne Toxins
Some substances you use in your home, including certain types of cleaning products, personal care products, paint and adhesives, contain airborne toxins that can be harmful if your home is not properly ventilated. Avoiding their use as much as possible is the best way to keep them out of your eyes, throat and lungs, but an air purifier with an activated carbon filter will be effective at trapping airborne toxins that may be in products you use.
What Are My Air Purifier Options?
Because there are several types of air purifiers that work in different ways and are effective at dealing with different types of pollutants, the type you should get depends on what you’re trying to clean out of your home’s air. Basic HEPA-type filters will trap visible dust and hair, while certified HEPA filters will also capture many allergens, visible smoke and bacteria. An activated carbon filter will reduce odours by trapping the molecules and compounds that cause them. UV light will destroy mould spores, bacteria and viruses, and an air ionizer will neutralize particles like dust, smoke and some allergens.
Learn more about Enercare indoor air quality solutions or contact us to find the option that will meet your needs.