If you have allergies or asthma, or are sensitive to pollution, you may have considered purchasing an air purifier to clean the air inside your home.
Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Ltd

Why use an air purifier? Indoor air pollution comes from a combination of particulate matter (dust, mold, pet dander and particles from smoke and cooking stoves) and gaseous pollutants (vehicle exhaust, smoke and chemical fumes) and can be far worse than the pollution outside, simply because it has no way to dissipate. 

Those who suffer from asthma or allergies can be especially sensitive to air quality, and using an air purifier could be helpful, together with other methods of keeping out pollution and allergens.

Purify your home, not just the air. Air purifiers can do wonders for removing particulate matter from the air; the problem is that dust, pet dander and the like don’t stay in the air for long. Allergens drift to the ground and become embedded in rugs and soft furnishings — places an air purifier cannot reach. A combination approach will reduce indoor air pollution and allergens more than any one method alone. Here are a few strategies to try:

 

  • Remove wall-to-wall carpeting; go for easy-to-clean hard flooring and washable area rugs.
  • Vacuum and dust with a microfiber cloth regularly.
  • Ban smoking in and around the house.

How air purifiers work. There are a few different types of air purifiers on the market, and not all of them are especially effective or safe. It is important to know what you are buying, so read the fine print on your air purifier before purchasing. The main thing to check is how the purifier cleans the air. It will likely use one or more of these methods:

  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter: This is the most common and one of the most effective methods available.
  • Activated carbon: Usually used with a HEPA filter or another filter, activated carbon can help reduce pollution by attracting some chemicals, which bond to the surface of the carbon.
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) cleaners: These use a UV light to kill viruses, bacteria, allergens and some molds. UVGI cleaners may not reduce allergy or asthma symptoms, because typical home cleaners have limited effectiveness.
  • Electrostatic precipitators: Particles entering the purifier are given a charge and then trapped on oppositely charged plates. These machines create a small amount of ozone, which is a lung irritant and pollutant itself, so this type of purifier is probably best avoided.

When to choose a whole-house air cleaner: If you have a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system in your home, you have the option of having a whole-house air cleaner installed right in the ductwork. The benefits of a whole-house system are that all of the air is cleaned and there are no bulky appliances to deal with. In-duct systems are expensive, and they must be professionally installed and maintained.

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