Air Purifier Information
When looking for an air purifier, it is important to understand what kind of information to look for. Whether it is an air purifier for a home, an air purifier for an office, or even just an air purifier for a small room, there are commonalities between all of them.
Many manufacturers publish detailed information about their air products. In addition, there are consumer testing groups, government agencies, and health organizations that perform independent testing. When making a decision about purchasing an air purifier, it is wise to look for multiple sources of air purifier information.
Some things to look for are what the air purifier removes, and how much it removes. There are a number of different airborne contaminants, and different air filtering methods remove different types of pollutants. For removing solid particulate matter that includes dust and even bacteria, look to see if a filter is HEPA- or ULPA-compliant. A HEPA filter removes at least 99.97% of particulate matter, and an ULPA filter removes over 99.999% of particulate matter.
In order to remove gaseous pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, an activated carbon or charcoal filter is required. An air purifiers with a carbon filter reduces the number of carcinogens, like benzene, that are in the air.
Cost and Power
Air purifier filters need to be periodically replaced or cleaned. When purchasing an air purifier, look for information about how often the filters need to be serviced. This will be an important factor in the cost of ownership. You shouldn’t skimp on filter replacements, as a dirty filter is much less effective than a clean one at air filtering. If the air filter is integrated in an HVAC system, a dirty filter can become moist from condensation, and can actually support mold or bacterial growth.
Another piece of air purifier information that needs to be considered is the amount of air that can be filtered. An air purifier needs to be large enough for the volume of air it is meant to filter. Placing an air purifier for a small room in a large room will not effectively reduce the number of contaminants in the air. This is because the contaminants such as pet dander, pollen, or soot can be replaced faster than they are removed. When an air purifier that is too small is used in a room, it may not be any better than not having a purifier at all.
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Activated carbon filters work as an effective way to remove contaminants that aren’t solids. Gaseous pollutants like benzene and acetone easily pass through inert filter media like the kind that make up HEPA filters. Carbon filters grab those pollutants out of the air.
Air purifiers with HEPA or ULPA filters readily and efficiently remove dust from the air. HEPA filters remove at least 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, and actually remove a higher percentage of larger particles. The average size of household dust is around ten times larger. The main components of household dust become trapped in the fibers of the filter, removing them from the air.
A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air and is not designed to clean the air. However, there is evidence that controlling humidity in the air can reduce the amount of mold spores.1 Molds release spores when they think that conditions are right for mold growth, so when there is more humidity in the air mold releases more spores. In addition, low moisture inhibits mold growth.
It is important to remember that an air purifier doesn’t necessarily clean the air in a room. Air purifiers are designed to reduce the number of airborne contaminants, and the rate at which they perform this task varies. Manufacturers should provide information about the size of the room that can be reliably treated by a purifier and how many times per hour the air will pass through the air purifier for a room. This kind of air purifier information should be easily accessible from a manufacturer.
Dust can come from many sources. Indoor sources of dust include people and pets, who continuously shed dead skin cells. A bedroom may become dustier than other rooms if the air in the bedroom is more still than other rooms. This is because when the air in a room moves around, it can keep dust aloft. When the air is still, dust can settle more readily, causing it to collect in rooms like bedrooms.
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Master Air Purifier Sources:
Air quality sources: Air purification/filtration process sources: HEPA, UPLA, and MERV filter sources:
Air quality sources:https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b01236
Air purification/filtration process sources:https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/air-purifiers/buying-guide/index.htm
HEPA, UPLA, and MERV filter sources:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16517004/