Where would you say the air quality is better: inside your neat, clean home or out on streets full of smog and car exhaust? If you live in an urban area, you may naturally assume that the air you breathe indoors is purer than outside—but you’d be wrong.
According to the EPA, indoor air pollutant levels may be at least 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor levels. In some areas, a study revealed that indoor air was 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Considering that the average American spends over 90% of their time indoors, you get an alarming picture.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home, like investing in an air purifier. What are the benefits of an air purifier, and do you need one? Keep reading to find out.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
While outdoor air pollution in urban areas consists primarily of vehicle emissions and industrial fuel burning, the sources of indoor air pollution can be more diverse. Typical sources include fuel-burning appliances, household cleaning products, pet hair and dandruff, dust, excess moisture, and deteriorating building materials.
Indoor pollutants settle in household dust and can stay trapped inside your home for a long time without efficient removal.
Although you may not feel the effects of poor air quality immediately, prolonged exposure to indoor air pollutants may cause symptoms like coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, and headaches. It may also trigger allergic reactions or aggravate asthma in susceptible individuals. Small children are especially vulnerable since they spend a lot of time playing on the floor and carpets, where household dust tends to concentrate.
Here Are 11 Benefits of an Air Purifier
Still not sure whether you need an air purifier? Consider the following benefits an air purifier can offer.
1. Cleaner Air
First of all, and most importantly, an air purifier will ensure your family is breathing cleaner and healthier air.
2. Fewer Odors
If you love to cook, but your kitchen doesn’t have good ventilation, the smell of whatever you’ve had for dinner may linger all over your house until morning. An air purifier can remove or minimize unpleasant odors.
3. Fewer Airborne Allergens
Air purifiers can be especially beneficial for households with pets. The fur and dander your pet sheds are potential allergens that may trigger unpleasant symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. An air purifier can trap allergens and reduce the amount of pet dander in your home.
4. Less Smoke
A wood stove or fireplace can be wonderfully cozy in winter, but smoke can lead to coughing and eye irritation, in addition to a lingering smell around your house. An air purifier can help you enjoy your fireplace without the side effect of excessive smoke.
5. Less Dust
An air purifier can catch tiny dust particles as they float through the air before they have a chance to settle on the surfaces in your home.
6. Reduced Seasonal Allergies
The air is lovely outside on a balmy spring or summer evening, but people with seasonal allergies may suffer bad hay fever when trees and grasses release their pollen. A quality air purifier can help eliminate the pollen that ends up in your home.
7. Less Mold
Mold is more than a few unsightly black spots in the bathroom corners. As mold spores travel through your home, they can lead to allergic and respiratory symptoms in sensitive people. An air purifier can trap a large part of the mold spores, although you still need to address the core issue of mold growth and excessive humidity.
8. Reduced Asbestos Exposure
If your house dates from the 1940-the 1960s, your insulation and roofing may contain asbestos. Decades later, your construction materials still shed asbestos particles, which may cause severe lung damage. Air purifiers can reduce the risk of asbestos exposure.
9. Easier Cleaning
Since an air purifier will catch a large portion of household dust, your floors, shelves, and other surfaces may stay clean longer. This is especially significant in areas people tend to overlook, like the tops of kitchen cupboards.
10. HVAC Filter Longevity
An air purifier can lessen the burden on your HVAC system filters and may help them last longer.
11. Better Sleep
It isn’t easy to sleep well if you wake up several times during the night sneezing or coughing. Cleaner air means less exposure to allergens, which may help you sleep better, especially during hay fever season.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
You may have heard blanket statements such as “indoor air purifiers aren’t that effective.” The truth, however, is that not all purifiers are created equal, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if an air purifier is working properly. It’s important to understand how various types of air purifiers work before you try and find the best purifier for your home.
Common Types of Air Purifiers
The most common types of air purifiers include:
An air purifier with a True HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter) forces the air through an ultrafine mesh which can trap dust and dust mites, mold spores, pollen, smoke, and other harmful particles. The industry standard for a HEPA filter is that it must remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles measuring 0.3 microns in a lab environment.
Beware of “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” filter air purifiers. These air purifiers do not meet the certification requirements of a True HEPA filter. The terms are just used as a marketing ploy to convince consumers to buy the product. Don’t settle for anything less than an air purifier with a True HEPA filter. They are the gold standard of air purifiers.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon air filters work through a process called adsorption. The pollutant particles stick to the carbon lattice that forms the filter’s core. While HEPA filters are most effective in capturing dust, mold, and other allergens, activated carbon filters work best for removing odors, smoke, fumes, and volatile organic compounds.
Depending on the type of indoor air pollutants you encounter most frequently, you may decide to opt for a HEPA filter model, an activated carbon filter model, or an air purifier with a combination of the two filters to improve your home’s air quality.
Ultraviolet Air Purifiers
UV air purifiers use short-wave UV-C light to deactivate mold, bacteria, viruses, and other airborne pathogens. However, according to the EPA, a UV-C air purifier won’t be effective as a standalone unit since it doesn’t remove or trap particles. You may get slightly better protection from pathogenic microorganisms if you use a HEPA filter and a UV air purifier combined. If you must choose one product, a HEPA filter air purifier is far more effective.
Ionic Air Purifiers
Electrostatic precipitators and ionizers electrically charge particles in the air so that they stick to nearby surfaces or metal plates on the purifier. Some ionic purifiers produce ozone which can be detrimental to your health, so we don’t recommend them.
Other Ways to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home
Besides investing in an efficient air purifier, you can also improve the quality of air in your home in other ways. Here are some helpful tips:
- Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum.
- Damp-dust to trap dust more effectively and avoid spreading it around.
- Change your HVAC filters regularly.
- Check your air ducts for dust and mold.
- Use cooking vents, especially if you use a gas stove.
- Open the windows whenever you can and allow air to circulate.
- Clean your rugs and carpets regularly to prevent dust buildup.
- Address any moisture or humidity issues that can contribute to mold growth.
Even if your home looks clean, your indoor air quality might be poor. Exposure to indoor air pollutants may cause respiratory sensitivity, aggravate asthma, or trigger allergies. An air purifier with a True HEPA filter can help make your indoor air cleaner and healthier.