6 Types of Air Purifier: How They Affect Your Family’s Health
How can you tell?
So many air purifiers to choose from. Different technologies and conflicting health claims.
It’s stressful, right? Especially when the health of your family is at stake.
So, you want to buy the right one? — the air purifier that helps cut down irritations and helps everyone breathe easier.
Once you understand purifier technology, making your choice becomes much easier. Choosing the right purifier is like selecting footwear. First, you decide whether you want to go jogging, roller skating or ice skating. You choose your footwear for a specific purpose—just like you pick the right air purifying technology for your health condition.
Let’s get started by looking at each of the different technologies and what they do.
1 Remove particles mechanically
The mechanical air purifier removes particles from the air. Particles are the matter in the air you can touch, but not see — such as pollen and dust.
Two types of mechanical devices exist:
- The pre-filter treats the sucked air first. Its mesh traps larger particles. So, they can’t flow through to the second filter.
- The second filter is fibrous, and it traps the smaller particles. Depending on the make, the second filter captures matter as small as 0.3 microns.
- Dust mites 100 to 300 Microns
- Pollen 10 to 1000 Microns
- Plant spore 3 to 100 Microns
- Pet Dander 0.5 to 100 Microns
- Household dust 0.05 to 100 Microns
- Tobacco Smoke 0.01 to 4 Microns
The Department of Energy’s has a standard for particulate filters. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters must capture 99.97% of particle sizes 0.3 microns and above.
So, the HEPA mechanical filter can capture all allergy sources listed above. Except for the smaller sized tobacco smoke particles.
Do you experience asthma? Or do family members struggle with allergies? Mechanical air purifiers are your best option. Enjoy cleaner air and breathe without difficulty so you can relish a healthier life.
Before buying, check the cleaning frequency and replacement of mechanical filters. Requirements vary from make to make.
2 Remove particles electronically
Air Purifiers with electronic filters also remove particles from the air. Two types exist:
- Electrostatic precipitators use a process called electrostatic attraction to trap particles.
- Ion generators or ionizers disperse charged ions into the air. These ions adhere to particles creating a positive charge. On exit from the air purifier, the particles attach to walls or furniture. Sometimes they’ll join together and settle to the floor.
Electronic purifiers get rid of the same irritating particles as mechanical filters.
But take care when choosing electronic air purifiers. Some can produce ozone. And this is a no-no, as ozone is a dangerous lung irritant.
Excessive ozone in the air messes with our health. It causes breathing problems and triggers asthma. Worst case, lung function reduces and lung diseases induced.
If purifiers produce ozone above a level of 0.050 parts per million (ppm) they’re banned in California. If production is below 0.050, they’re deemed to be safe. But you need to ensure the ozone doesn’t accumulate in a room to dangerous levels. Strange isn’t it? We try to make our indoor air healthier. But these so-called air purifiers make our indoor air worse.
3 Get rid of gasses and odors
The gas phase filter removes polluting gasses and nasty odors from the air.
These filters use a sorbent material like activated carbon. The carbon absorbs polluted gasses and as air passes through, the gas pollutant “binds” itself to the material. The air leaves the air purifier into the surrounding room clear of the “bad” gas.
Sounds like a marvelous solution, doesn’t it? And it is, so long as the air purifier removes your problem gas. Gas phase filters cannot remove every gas pollutant. You’ll need to know what gas is present to determine whether a unit is right for you. Also, no purifier expels carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.
If you have a gas filter, be sure to replace the absorbent material from time to time. Otherwise, the filter loses effectiveness. And before buying, check the cost and ease of doing so.
Choose a gas filter that removes your problem gas, otherwise don’t waste your money.
4 Attack biological pollutants with radiation
Biological pollutants refer to airborne viruses, bacteria, and molds.
This type of air purifier destroys the pollutant rather than removing it. The technical name is cumbersome: UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation or UVGI. The UltraViolet lamps inside these purifiers expose air to ultraviolet radiation. The radiation destroys germs in that air.
This approach reduces your exposure to viral and bacterial infections. But the level of ultraviolet these purifiers produce is often too low to destroy certain viruses, mold, and bacterial spores.
5 Eliminate gas and bacteria using oxidization
PCO or Photo Catalytic Oxidization purifiers destroy gas pollutants in the air. PCO technology also uses UV lamps but in conjunction with a catalyst chemical. The UV light combines with the chemical to create an oxidant. In turn, the oxidant combines with gas pollutants and bacteria and destroys them.
PCO technology is powerful in enclosed concentrated spaces. Like the UVGI units, though, it’s hard to get enough exposure to destroy all bacteria and Volatile Organic Compounds such as paint and fuel vapors.
6 Beware ozone generators
Ozone generators were very popular up until 2008 when California banned those that produce more than 0.050 parts per million. These generators produce ozone using UV lamps or electrical charges. The ozone reacts with chemical and biological pollutants to neutralize them.
But it is a crappy solution. Ozone is dangerous to the health of your lungs. Any level above 0.50 parts per million is harmful, and you shouldn’t use any machine that does so.
The California Air Research Board continues to warn consumers about the dangers. Here’s an example in their ozone fact sheet.
It is unbelievable. They are only banned in California, so be careful if you’re outside of that state.
Do you need multiple air purifiers?
That may not be necessary. Most air purifiers combine different technologies. Almost always with a pre-filter. Some makes like Austin have both mechanical and adsorbent materials. Others like Winix have a mechanical filter and an ion generator.
What do you think?
Before you buy an air purifier, first consider what your aim is. Do you need to remove gasses, odors, particles, or viruses and bacteria?
For particles, consider a mechanical filter or electronic purifier. To remove gasses and odors, a gas phase filter is probably your best bet. And consider radiation to get rid of viruses and bacteria, – beware of its limited effectiveness, though.
It’s troublesome when your child is gasping for air or your partner can’t stop sneezing because of pollens in the air.
So, it’s time to make a decision. You now know what air purifier technology is best. Right?
Match the technology to your loved one’s breathing problem.
Ignore the technology that doesn’t suit.
And be secure in the knowledge you’re on the right track to choosing the best air purifier. So your family can breathe freely again.