How Do Air Purifiers Work? A Complete Guide

Ever stop to consider what you’re breathing on a daily basis? For most of us, it’s just an afterthought. But breathing fresh air that is not polluted is really important, especially if you suffer from allergies, asthma or have other breathing problems.

Even for those who are obsessed with cleanliness, we tend to forget the invisible enemy: airborne particles.

Household air contains:

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Aerosol particles (from cleaning products)
  • Dead skin cells
  • Human hair
  • Pet dander

In fact, household air can be five times as polluted as outdoor air. Disgusting, right?

But, fear not! Here’s a brief guide to everything you need to know about air purifiers and what you can do to protect yourself from breathing nasty, polluted air indoors.

What Are Air Purifiers Used For?

Air purifiers are relatively small machines that suck in dirty, polluted indoor air, clean it, sanitize all particles, and then release them back into your household environment.

They are effective in removing dust particles, mold, cigarette and tobacco smoke, bacteria, viruses, pet dander and other pollutants.

While some argue that the whole story about air purifiers is a made-up deal, there’s lots of proof to the contrary. Along with countless case studies of individuals who have noticed their allergies disappearing and their breathing improving, scientific studies have proven the effects of air purifiers.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers consist of one or several layers of filters and a fan.

The air in your room gets sucked through the air purifier, which then travels through the layers of filters. After the air is free from pollutants and dust particles, the fan pushes it out back into your room. An air purifier might have ozone or electric attraction instead of filters.

Are There Different Types of Air Purifiers?

There are several types of air purifiers:

1. Filters

These ones you may already have in your house, or have seen them, because they are quite common. Sometimes referred to as air cleaners, filters are mostly a part of the cooling or heating system.

They can catch really small particles, and the more layers the filter has, the more efficient it’ll be in purifying the air.

Usually, filters contain fiberglass, synthetic fibers, foam or cotton. While they are effective, they restrict airflow, which is a downside.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are filters that meet a standard for removing particles from the air. They are designed to successfully remove at least 99.7 % of 0.3 microns. Filters with even higher efficiency and stricter standards are called ULPA filters (Ultra-low Penetration Air).

2. Ionizing Purifiers

These bad boys have a feature called the corona discharge- a small but intense electromagnetic field that affects protons, neutrons and electrons in particles found in the air.

Two metal plates — one of which is positively-charged, and the other negatively-charged — pull on these particles in the air. A particle is drawn to another particle that is oppositely charged. They bind to each other and soon settle out of the air.

3. Ozone Generators

Ozone generators are fairly different from ionizing purifiers when it comes to their appearance, but they work in a similar way. The only difference between these two is that ozone generators change oxygen molecules into ozone, which consists of three oxygen atoms. When oxygen atoms pass through corona discharge, they split into separate oxygen atoms. Free air, cool!

But, don’t get too excited. While ozone generators create new oxygen atoms, there is strong evidence that this doesn’t actually purify the air. Another thing you should keep in mind is that ozone is a toxic gas that causes corrosion. Maybe not so cool after all.

Air Purifiers for Mold

Nasty, microscopic fungi are invading our homes. Not only are they nasty, but dangerous too.

Research shows that mold is a great cause of a variety of health issues and conditions, such as throat irritation, stuffy nose, eye irritation, coughing and wheezing, and skin irritation. For those suffering from asthma and allergies, the negative effects can be even more severe.

There are some measures you can take to make sure that mold levels are kept to a minimum in your home.

Because mold grows in dark rooms where there is a high level of humidity, you can use hygrometers and humidity gauges to keep an eye on humidity levels. After you find out which rooms in your house are most problematic when it comes to humidity, you can use a dehumidifier to lower those humidity levels. Combining these tools with an appropriate air purifier can really help you remove all the toxins and can help relieve problems with allergies and asthma.

Please note: Air purifiers eliminate mold spores, but do not eliminate active mold growth.

Our Recommendations

HEPA filters air purifiers are most recommended since HEPA filters meet a strict standard of efficiency. They are designed to filter out at least 99.7 % of particles.

They are also successful in getting rid of mold spores that range between one and five microns in size. This is done by trapping airborne spores within the HEPA filter.

The best way to use your HEPA filter air purifier is to place it in a room that is most likely to have problems with mold: basements, bathrooms, kitchens or other rooms that have a high level of humidity.

If you want to make your home a 100 % mold-free environment, you can also consider buying the IQAir HealthPro Plus. This air purifier filters particles that are 100 times smaller than those that HEPA filters remove. This means it is efficient in successfully removing at least 99.95% of microns that, in size, range from 0.003 up to bigger diameters.

As additional defense from mold spores, you can use a UV-C Light filter along with the air purifier you choose. UV-C Light filters kill the DNA markup in mold spores, which can add extra insurance if your air purifier struggles to catch most of the particulate matter.

Another great machine you can consider is Coway AP-1512HH Air Purifier. This purifier has a lot of advantages when it comes to size, function and efficiency. While this machine is fairly small, which means it won’t take a huge amount of space, it can also easily deal with rooms up to 360sq ft, making it an ideal pick for purifying the air in bigger rooms.

Additional features include Eco mode for lowering energy output, filter sensor which can tell you in advance if your filters need a change, and an air pollution sensor that changes its color depending on the quality of the air. The Coway Air purifier is also packed with activated carbon which helps neutralize odors, and an ionizer which helps destroy airborne germs.

Air Purifiers for Dust

A common misconception about dust is that it mostly consists of human skin. But the reality is that these human skin cells mostly end up in the shower. But, that doesn’t suddenly make it less dangerous and less nasty.

According to some studies, two thirds of dust is actually dirt that you pick up on your shoes when you’re outdoors. There is also a small number of airborne particles like pollen, mold spores, soot, and other organic debris found in this amount. The remaining part of dust is mostly a combination of pet or human hair, fibers that fall off of your clothes or your carpet.

If you add an air purifier to your room, you will definitely notice the difference. The way an air purifier works for dust is pretty much the same as the way it works with other airborne particles. Before the dust settles, it floats around in your household air.

A proper purifier will pull in 99.97 % of these particles.

As air moves through filters in your purifier, this particulate matter found in the air gets stuck to fibers. This matter that gets stuck is actually what you would latter find as dust on your shelves and table surfaces. Keep in mind that it will not magically remove dust particles that have already settled on your household surfaces. You will still need to do some cleaning.

Our Recommendations

We recommend a HEPA purifier because it traps microns that are as small as 0.3. Particles this size is the hardest to trap, and are also the most likely to cause issues in your lungs. As we’ve already discussed above, HEPA purifiers are great at efficiently removing particulate matter that is harmful to your health.

The Levoit LV-H133 Dust Air Purifier is also a good pick when it comes to getting rid of nasty dust particles. The main advantage of this purifier that makes it unique and different from all of the other purifiers is that it offers 360-degrees of coverage, which means it sucks in dust from all sides.

This feature makes this model about 40 % more efficient in comparison to some of the other models. Also, it can handle cleaning the air in rooms up to 538sq ft. Another great feature the Levoit purifier has is the special cyclone technology, the main reason this purifier is so quiet.

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifiers

Are air purifiers a waste of money?

Air purifiers are definitely not a waste of money. They are efficient in trapping nearby pollutants, providing clean and fresh air. Also, most people suffering from allergies claim having a huge relief after using air purifiers.

How long does it take for an air purifier to work?

If you’ve chosen the right air purifier for your room size, you will notice the effects of the air purifier after 30 minutes to 2 hours.

What are the benefits of an air purifier?

Air purifiers have many benefits to your health, but some of the most important ones include preventing asthma attacks and triggers, eliminating allergens, trapping tobacco and cigarette smoke, and extracting airborne asbestos particles.

How do electronic air purifiers work?

Electronic air purifiers firstly trap larger particles, such as dander and dust in a prefilter. After that, smaller particles like mold spores and bacteria are drawn by electrically charged filters, which prevent them from going back into the atmosphere.

A Final Word from the Wellness Nova Team

Battling with an invisible enemy can be quite hard, mainly because we often aren’t aware we even have one. But with a good purifier and a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be able to minimize health problems caused by all the germs, mold, dust, and other particulate matter that floats in the air beyond our awareness.

But remember, air purifiers aren’t magic bullets. They won’t solve all of your problems by themselves. If you really want to ensure a healthy, fresh, and non-polluted environment, you will still need to take care by deep cleaning your house more often, controlling humidity levels, vacuuming, and removing dust.

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