Are You Considering Purchasing an Air Purifier?
By Molly Guilder
Are you considering purchasing an air purifier? Whether you are in the market for an air purifier because of a recent health concern for you or a family member or if quarantine life has you investing more in the quality of your home environment, air purifiers have gained significant popularity over recent years for a reason. For many years our focus has been on outdoor air pollution, but recent statistics published by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that we have just as much to fear from the compromised air quality within our own homes. According to their research, Household Air Pollutants (HAP) are responsible for a staggering 3.8 million premature deaths and are linked to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Numbers like these are certainly alarming in and of themselves, but when we consider that outdoor pollutants like urbanization and population increases have a direct correlation on indoor pollutants and air quality, it is likely that HAP will continue to be a life-threatening problem for years to come. Considering that air purifiers are universally considered to be one of the best ways to combat indoor air pollutants, purchasing a quality air purifier is one of the best things you can do to protect the safety of your home.
So, how do you determine which is the best air purifier for your home? Is there a major difference between cheaper air purifier models and the higher ticket designs with lots of bells and whistles?
Read on to find out what should be on your “must-have” list when shopping for a quality air purifier.
What Exactly Do Air Purifiers Do?
While indoor air purifiers might seem like a relatively new concept, air filtration systems have been around for quite some time. Indoor air purifiers, however, have gained significant popularity over the past 30 years, as consumers become more aware of the need to protect their home environment from life-threatening pollutants.
Ionizers, HEPA filters, carbon filters…with the multitude of buzz terms that have come from air purifier manufacturers in recent years, it can be difficult to keep up with varying claims, or to know which purifying technology has been determined to be the current standard bearer for quality.
Air purifiers use a variety of different filtration systems to “cleanse” the air going in of carcinogens and particulates, and through this process, emit air that has removed dangerous matter that can be harmful to our health. Deeper analysis on indoor pollutants, coupled with pushes from agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and especially, the creation of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) in 1995 have all helped drive studies that in turn propelled groundbreaking research. These efforts have led to a greater understanding of the most harmful indoor air particulates, and what filtration materials and systems will best eliminate them from your inside climate. While you will likely pay more for a purifier that contains one of these elite systems, you will see why it is worth the added expense.
HEPA Filters: The Gold Standard for the Industry
When it comes to the best rated air purifiers, there is one component that is essential: HEPA filter. It might be a term you know you have heard before, yet aren’t sure exactly what it does or why it is important.
HEPA stands for ‘high-efficiency particulate air” filter, and purifiers that include a HEPA filter are the best on the market. Simply put, air purifiers that have a HEPA filter can pull airborne particulates out of moving air and separate them from the residual air that is then released after it has gone through the filter. HEPA filters are so effective in removing harmful particulates from air that they are included in the masks firefighters use when going into a fire.
A residential air purifier that has a true HEPA filter removes 99.97% of particles from incoming air. They have proven to be extremely effective in helping those who suffer from asthma and other lung related illnesses, as well as removing air born pathogens like viral germs from indoor air. However, because they utilize a high-level of technology and expertise, air purifiers that include true HEPA filter technology are often more expensive than those without them. Their superior performance, however, is well worth the additional cost.
Not All HEPA Air Purifiers are Created Equal
Remember the saying “If it looks too good to be true, it usually is?” This maxim also applies to air purifiers, particularly cheap air purifiers that CLAIM they have a HEPA filter, but only use HEPA paper in their filtration system. To ensure you are purchasing an air purifier with true HEPA filter technology, you will want to verify that the purifier’s total system efficiency has been tested to meet rigid HEPA standards. Yes, you will pay more for a purifier that has this seal of approval, but its efficiency and efficacy will be more than worth it.
Cooking with Gas? Make Sure Your Air Purifier has Carbon
If you use a gas stove or have a gas fireplace in your home, you may want to consider purchasing an air purifier that uses a carbon filtration system in addition to HEPA. While HEPA filters are excellent at removing miniscule particulates from your air, gas, odors, and other volatile organic and chemical compounds are not solid and will therefore “float” through a HEPA filtration system, but a back-up carbon filtration process will readily dispatch these harmful indoor pollutants. Many of the best rated air purifiers offer both systems and therefore often have a higher ticket price, but when you consider that gas and other VOCs are considered carcinogens, it is an investment worth making.
Bring Germs into the Light with a UV Filter Air Purifier
The medical community has been using UV light purifiers to sterilize equipment and purify a hospital environment for years, which is why it made sense to adapt this technology to indoor air purifiers. If you are especially concerned about protecting your home environment from viral pathogens, bacteria, and mold, a UV filter working in conjunction with a true HEPA filtration system will provide you with one of the best air purifiers on the market. An air purifier that includes all three of these components, – HEPA filtration, carbon, and UV light, – offers a consumer one of the best air purifiers for indoor filtration available.
To Spend or Not to Spend: Deciding How Much to Spend on an Air Purifier
Quality is rarely cheap, and this is holds true with air quality as well. However, the demand for air purifiers over recent years has meant there are many more affordable choices out on the market. Depending on your needs and what you want an air purifier to accomplish, you will want to make sure the model you purchase has the filtration systems we have previously discussed.
Following air filtration systems, consider what are some of the other important factors you are looking for in an air purifier. For instance, is blue tooth technology an important feature for you? If you are in the market for a room sized purifier, both the overall look and design of the purifier and the level of noise it creates will be aspects to consider. You will want to also consider the size of the footprint the unit can cover, and how many times per year it will require a filter change and maintenance.
The more features an air purifier has, the more likely it is to have a higher price tag, but there is some quality, mid-priced options available that might be a good option as well. All in all, it’s important to do your homework, make a list of what qualities are most important to you, and determine your overall budget when you start shopping. Keep in mind this is an investment in the air quality of your home and spending a little more upfront will likely prevent you from having to repeat the process again in the near future.
Breathing Easy with Your New Air Purifier
If living during a pandemic has taught us anything, it is how important our health is, and that advocating for our overall well-being needs to be a daily focus. Our homes should be a sanctuary of peace and positivity, rather than yet another place that could potentially threaten our peace of mind.
Today’s air purifiers provide a valuable tool for us to have in our healthcare arsenal. Whether it is protecting the are quality for someone suffering from a chronic condition like asthma, or just ensuring that we have the cleanest air possible within our homes, air purifiers give us the ability to exert some positive control over our indoor environments, creating a sense of safety and comfort. When it comes time to decide on which air purifier to purchase, quality, – rather than saving money – should be the most important criteria we use to inform our decision. Purchasing the best air purifier for your needs will be an investment you make in your health, and what can be more important than that?