What Are the Types of Air Purifiers?

When most people think of air pollution, they automatically assume it’s in connection with outdoor air.

However, indoor air that’s found within most of our homes is not as clean as you’d think and can in some cases, be just as harmful to your health.

Indoor air contains a variety of contaminants including pollen, pet hair, mold spores, dust, and viruses. Long-term exposure to any of these things can play a significant role in the damaging of your health, particularly if you already suffer from any pre-existing respiratory problems.

Using a good quality air filtration system within the home can help protect your health significantly by ensuring you always have a fresh and clean supply of air to breathe. These devices come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. In addition to that, they also differ in the way in which they clean the air. In this review, we’ll go through some of the different types of air purifiers available to buy. We’ll also give you some idea as to how each of the work, why they’re so effective, so you can decide which is the best air purifier for you.

HEPA Filter Air Purifiers

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and air purifiers fitted with these kinds of filters are some of the most popular and commonly used on the market today. One of the reasons why they’re so widely used is that they’re so effective. True HEPA filters are capable of capturing up to 99.97% of air particles and contaminants that are 0.3 microns and larger. They create no harmful byproducts or ozone and are highly reliable.

To give you a brief idea of how they work, HEPA filter air purifiers draw air into the machine via a fan. The air is then passed through a kind of pre-filter in which to trap any airborne contaminants and larger particles. Then, the HEPA filter sets to work removing all that remains. For more detailed information on how HEPA filters work click here.

While HEPA filters themselves are very effective when it comes to sanitizing the air, they do not have the ability to destroy chemical fumes, tobacco smoke, odors, or gases. So, to combat this issue, most decent HEPA air purifiers will also include some kind of activated charcoal filter alongside it.

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

If you live in an environment with pets and small people frequently roaming around, you’ll be grateful for one of these. An activated carbon air purifier uses a filter with lots of tiny absorbent pores. As air flows through the filter it reacts with the activated carbon and all those harmful irritants and other air pollutants bond permanently. While this type of filter isn’t capable of removing allergens or micro-organisms from the air, it does capture smoke, odors, mold spore, gases, and volatile organic compounds (VOC).

As a rough guide, these filters need changing around every three to six months, depending on usage, which is about average for any air purification system. The ultimate benefit of having clean filters is that your machine will work more effectively, helping to reduce any allergic or asthmatic reactions.

Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers are often referred to as ionizers or negative ion generators and they work a little different to the likes of a HEPA air purifying system. Instead of trapping pollutants and other airborne particles in a filter, these machines work by producing and releasing negative ions into the air. These electrically charged ions react with positively charged pollutants in the air, causing them to neutralize and fall to the ground.

Negative ion generators are very good at dealing with pollen, dust, viruses, and other airborne particles and they’re also very low maintenance. However, on their own, they don’t remove odors. Another downside is that they also create a small amount of ozone into the air which may cause irritation to the lungs, especially in those suffering from any respiratory conditions such as asthma. They also take a little longer to work than most other types of air purifiers.

Spray Air Purifiers 

While this kind of air purifier isn’t really recommended for long term use, it is an effective temporary solution. Spray air purifiers are sometimes referred to as air sanitizers. These devices contain cleaning agents in which to attack microorganisms and neutralize odors and gases in the air.

They are highly effective at tackling bad odors fast, making them a favorite among those with pets or really active kids and make a great addition to the kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Or, some people use them in the bathroom as a really cool air freshener alternative.

Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) Air Purifiers

These purifiers take the processes of cleaning indoor air to a whole new level. You won’t find a filter in these machines. Instead, they use a broad-spectrum UV light, water moisture, and a thin sheet of metal in which to create a chemical reaction that breaks down allergens and other airborne particles. All of this takes place inside a reaction chamber so is perfectly safe.

As the air gets purified it flows back out of the device through the reaction chamber core with the help of an integrated fan. These air purifiers are extremely effective as they literally exterminate every air contaminant it comes across from gases, to viruses, to pet dander, to microscopic particles up to 100 times smaller than what a HEPA filter can capture.

Because there’s no filter, PCO air purifiers are very easy to maintain. All they need is a little wipe down every now and then to get of rid of any surface dust and a replacement reaction chamber every 2-3 years.

Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) Air Purifiers 

Essentially, PECO air purifiers are an upgraded version of the PCO models. They work in exactly the same way, but instead of using a thin sheet of metal to create a reaction, they have a built-in filter membrane that’s coated with nanoparticles. This causes a much stronger and much faster reaction when exposed to UV light compared to that of the PCO air purifier.

As with PCO air purifiers, these devices destroy every type of contaminant they come in contact with. The only real drawback with PECO air purifiers is that they tend to need their filters replacing around once a year on average.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Air Purifiers

According the United States Environmental Protection Agency, there are three bands of UV light – UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. The band used in air purifiers is UV-C light. When this light comes into contact with the air, it disrupts the DNA of bacteria, germs, mold, and viruses, rendering them ineffective.

How well this type of air purifier performs depends on the light’s wattage and the amount of time the air is exposed to the light. Make sure to replace the lamp as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Just be aware that a UV light air purifier won’t remove any harmful chemicals, allergens, odors, smoke, or airborne particles from the air.

Ozone Air Purifiers

Ozone air purifiers, otherwise known as ozone generators, use oxidant ozone in which to eliminate various contaminants from the air including bad odors, bacteria, dust mites, and more. While ozone does have somewhat of a bad reputation for the harmful effects it has on humans, it’s actually a really good air cleaner. The way the work is by releasing a small amount of ozone into the air in the room. As it spreads it reacts with chemically with the air’s pollutants and breaks them down into water and carbon dioxide mostly.

While these air purifiers are effective, they can be dangerous if not used correctly. Ideally, you don’t want to be in the same room as it while it’s on either. So, the best course of action when using one of these air devices is to turn it on high and leave the room. When it’s finished doing what it needs to do, turn the device off and air out the room before reentering. Just be careful if you suffer with any respiratory conditions such as asthma as long-term exposure to ozone could aggravate the symptoms.

Electronic Air Cleaners

With an electronic air cleaner – the sky’s the limit (or maybe the ceiling in this case)! These devices are well-known for being extremely effective. In fact, they can remove as much 99.98% of allergens, dust, pet dander, viruses, smoke, and fumes within the home.

The way in which these air cleaners work is in quite clever. As air passes through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or HVAC system, it first gets filtered through a HEPA-type filter where most of the contaminated particles are removed. Next, the air gets treated with positively charged ions that are generated within the electronic air cleaner. These ions destroy any remaining odors and contaminants, ensuring you get a constant supply of clean air.

Because they’re used in conjunction with your home air conditioning unit and furnace, these air filters must be professionally installed. You also need to ensure the filters are replaced regularly and that the ionizing wires or collector cells are kept clean by giving them a quick hose down once a month or so.

Why Invest in an Air Purifier?

The type of air purifier that’s best for you will depend on various factors and is not a decision that should be taken lightly. The following are a few tips which should help you decide:

  1. Think about what contaminants, in particular, you are looking to remove from the air. It may be that you have a house full of pets and so you’ll probably want an air purifier that’s going to banish pet hair and dander, as well as bad odors. In which case you should look for models that include activated carbon filters
  2. Check out the machine’s capacity and make sure it’s compatible with the surface area of the room you want to use it in. Buying an air purifier that’s not powerful enough for the space it’s going in will have a minimal effect. While buying one that’s too big for the room will work, it’s a waste of energy and money.
  3. Consider the noise level. All air purifiers operate at different noise levels. While some offer a wide range of fan speeds and therefore quieter modes, others are a little limited in that department. So, if you are looking to place the air purifier in the bedroom at all, and don’t want to be kept awake all night by the sound of a roaring machine, be sure to opt for one of the quieter models out there.
  4. Calculate your long-term costs. Owning an air purifier is not just about the initial investment. You need to consider the machine’s running costs too, and that includes power usage, filter replacement, and overall maintenance costs.
  5. Read independent review to reveal both the pros and cons of the various types of air purifiers available, we have many here on Skyonic!

You deserve to have the best air quality within your home. And with the help of a good air purifier, that’s highly achievable. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes so finding one to fit your free space shouldn’t be an issue.

So, what are you waiting for? Improve your indoor air quality today.

How Do Air Purifiers Work

clean air

Manufacturers offer several types of air purification methods. These include filters, ozone generators, ionization, adsorbents, and UV light.

Many devices rely on more than one method. High-quality machines may cost a few hundred dollars to buy. Over time, you will probably need to spend more money to run and maintain your purifier too. On the other hand, a good air purifier may offer you the best way to improve indoor air quality and keep your household healthy. That’s why it can pay to learn more about how air purifiers work before deciding which one will help you invest in clean air for you and your family.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Obviously, some air purifiers work better as air cleaners than others, especially in different situations. Take a moment to learn about various types of air purifiers that you can buy for your home.


The most traditional kinds of air filtration systems use filters. Think of the filters that you use in the air ducts for your home heating and air conditioning system. You may purchase devices that use disposable filters, but some come with washable ones. Denser filter materials can catch smaller particles, and a pleated design may prove more effective than a flat one because it has a larger surface area. To keep your filter effective and efficient, be sure to replace or clean it by the manufacturer’s schedule.

HEPA and ULPA Filters 

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particular air, and HEPA filters must meet Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, standards. To comply with the HEPA standard, particles of at least .03 microns can’t make it past the barrier more than .03 percent of the time. You might also notice a ULPA, or ultra-low particulate air, standard, which is even stricter. Besides getting used for home air purifiers, some industries rely upon HEPA air purifiers and ULPA filters to keep certain worksites free from contamination and reduce emissions. The EPA suggests cleaning and replacing these filters on schedule to ensure efficiency.

Ionizing Air Purifiers 

Ionizing purifiers work by emitting electricity to give contaminates either a positive or negative charge. The charged particles tend to clump together, making them heavier and likely to fall out of the air. Meanwhile, the device has a positively and negatively charged plate that will attract molecules with the opposite charge. According to the EPA, ion air purifiers are best for small particles, like cigarette smoke, but may not work so well for dust or many other allergens. They may also emit ozone, a controversial byproduct of air purifiers.

Ozone Generators

Somewhat similar to ionizers, ozone generators also produce a charge. Instead of just applying a charge to contaminants, these devices change some oxygen molecules into ozone molecules. These devices are meant to help purify and deodorize. However, the EPA warns that ozone can become a lung irritant and in larger quantities, even a health hazard.


Note that these are adsorbent and not absorbent. Adsorbent refers to a substance that can trap other substances upon its surface. The most common example is activated charcoal. Its porous surface has plenty of tiny crevices to trap molecules. Chemical and electrostatic reactions also help attract particles and keep them bonded to the surface. Manufacturers also use different methods to produce this charcoal to make it better at attracting certain types of contaminants. According to the EPA, adsorbent air purifiers may offer safe and effective purification of gaseous and organic pollution, such as from cooking or chemicals. Like other filtering products, adsorbents have to be replaced on schedule.

Ultraviolet Light 

The EPA suggests UVGI cleaners to scrub the air of many biological contaminants. Ultraviolet light can help destroy bacteria, viruses, allergens, and mold in the air. They also suggest using them with a filter and not as a replacement for a filter. Another kind of UV air purifier is called PGO. A PGO works with catalysts to convert gaseous pollutants into harmless byproducts. They don’t work on particles and should also be used with filters.

Which Kind of Air Purifier Works Best?

Indoor air pollution can pose a health risk. Keeping the home clean and ventilating with outside air may help. At the same time, it’s not always possible to clean microscopic particles. If it’s hot or cold enough to need the air conditioner or furnace, nobody wants to leave a window open. Air purifiers may use filters, adsorbents, UV light, electric charges, or sometimes, a combination of methods to help improve air quality. Look for high-quality and well-reviewed products that have been designed safely and effectively to address your indoor air pollution problem.

Are Air Purifiers Worth It?

Air pollution levels have been on the rise for a long time. Not just in the US, but globally. The increase in traffic, more strenuous manufacturing process, and just a steady incline in people are all factors that have added to this dangerous climb. And while we may not be able to control the environment outside of our home, we do have the ability to change it inside.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some indoor air pollutant levels are as much as 5 times higher than outdoor air concentration levels. And when you spend a good portion of your life at home, that’s quite a scary fact to think about, especially for allergy sufferers or those with any pre-existing breathing problems. However, there are ways to improve these statistics, one of which is through the use of an air purifier.

What Are Air Purifiers Designed to Do?

The ultimate goal of an air purifier is to improve the overall air quality within the home. It’s essentially a portable air cleaning system.

Even in the most immaculate of homes, dust, mold spores, and other harmful allergens accumulate, causing the air quality to diminish. This is something that can’t be helped. But what can be helped is the level at which this air is filtered, and that’s what air purifiers do. Air purifiers work by taking regular air in via a fan and filter it through either one or several filters. As the air passes through these filters any dust particles or pollutants are trapped, and clean air is expelled back out.

There are many different air purifiers on the market today. However, one thing almost all of them have in common is the filtration system. In most models you’ll find a pre-filter that tackles the largest particles while a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or HEPA-type filter takes care of the smaller ones. Some air purifiers also include activated carbon filters as part of their design, which helps to reduce unpleasant odors massively.

A decent air purifier works extremely well provided you maintain it regularly. This typically involves replacing the filter(s) regularly. However, the frequency in which these need to be replaced will vary across models and is largely dependent on usage. So, just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s advice on maintenance.

Some air purifiers use reusable air filters which are extremely effective at removing large particles such as pollen and dust mites. These filters can be removed easily and washed as often as needed. The downside is in order to keep them working most efficiently, they do need a lot of regular maintenance.

Do Air Purifiers Work?

There’s a lot of proven science behind the effectiveness of air purifiers, most of which comes down to the true HEPA filter. These filters are now an industry standard, and any air purifier not fitted with one should be approached with extreme caution.

The reason why HEPA filters are so effective is they use a dense arrangement of fibers in which to capture airborne particles from the air. Using an air purifier that’s fitted with one of these filters in a location that’s optimal, will improve the quality of the air within the home, ten-fold.

Here are just some of the many benefits to be found from using a good air purifier:

  • Significantly reduces dust levels and allergens: If you’re asthmatic or suffer from any kind of respiratory condition then living in a dusty environment can be extremely dangerous. The same goes for those with dust or pet allergies. However, through the use of a decent air purifier, dust levels will reduce significantly along with the number of triggering allergens. The air in your home will be much cleaner, and you will find yourself being able to breathe more easily. If you do keep any furry friends in your home, there are various air purifiers available that are designed specifically for dealing with pet dander and odors. So not only will it help you breathe better it will help your home smell better too.
  • Absorbs damaging chemicals: Volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s for short, are essentially the gases in which are emitted from a number of both indoor and outdoor sources. However, concentrations of VOC’s are much high indoors than outdoors and can come from a variety of everyday items such as cleaning supplies or paint. Having an air purifier in the home, particularly one that’s fitted with a charcoal-based activation filter, can help to absorb some of these harmful irritants, giving you much better air quality within the home.
  • Improve on general household smells: It’s not just pets that produce terrible smells. Odors in the home can come from a variety of sources including pungent foods, tobacco smoke, and dirty kids. While lighting a candle or opening a window may help to ease the whiff a little, a good air purifier will eliminate it entirely.

Are There Other Ways to Improve Air Quality in a Home?

Having good quality air to breathe is not only our right as a human, but it’s essential in order to maintain a healthy life. While an air purifier is the best solution, there are a number of other ways to improve the air quality within your home:

  • Ventilation is vital: Opening a window may seem counterproductive when trying to get rid of harmful pollutants. However, in the absence of an air purifier, having the windows open prevents dust mites and allergens from building up. If at all possible, try and open windows on both sides of the room. This will create a stronger cross draft, making it more difficult for air irritants to settle.
  • Plants are more than just decoration: You may be surprised to know that plants have some amazing qualities when it comes to improving air quality. In 1989, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) teamed up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to conduct a study called the Clean Air Study. It was essentially a project to find ways to clean the air in space stations. What researchers discovered is that there are a number of common indoor plants that may help to do this, including bamboo Palm and English Ivy. So, go green and bring a few houseplants into the fold.
  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming is another inexpensive way of controlling the number of dust particles that accumulate within the home. As most people already own a vacuum, it’s no extra expense to simply use the one you have. If, however, you are looking for an upgrade, try and go for one that’s HEPA-certified. At least then you will have the added benefit of a decent filter.

So, Are Air Purifiers Worth It & Do You Need One?

Absolutely! Regardless of whether you suffer from any respiratory problems or allergies, a good air purifier will not only improve the quality of the air you breathe, but it will help to improve the quality of your life too.  These appliances are not gimmicks and should not be seen as just another fad. There has been a lot of time and money spent on researching the benefits of using these appliances, particularly in conjunction with the HEPA air filter. And each and every time, research shows a clear reduction in the harmful irritants, pollutants, dust, and other particles in the air while using an air purifier.

While there may be a cost in the initial purchasing of an air purifier, and of course you will need to keep replacing or cleaning the filter regularly which may involve an additional cost. However, the health benefits to be seen from having one in your home will largely outweigh any expenditure. As at the end of the day, there is no price to be put on yours or your loved one’s lives. And if you can improve your indoor air quality significantly with just a small investment, surely, it’s worth it?

In 2018 alone, U.S. air purifier sales increased by a million units and can be found in at least one-quarter of American homes. Since indoor air can contain up to five times as many contaminants as outdoor air, it’s not hard to explain the popularity of these devices. Young children, the elderly, and people with allergies, asthma, and other health conditions can suffer even more from poor air quality.

What Are the Benefits of Air Purifiers?

boy celebrating clean air

You may know them as air cleaners. Others may call them air purifiers. But regardless of what you refer to them as, it’s an appliance that works to ensure that only clean, fresh and healthy air is circulated throughout your home or business. For the record, we’ll refer to them as air purifiers in this post.

So what exactly are air purifiers and what do they do? Simply put, they’re either portable standalone devices or whole-home units that integrate with the HVAC unit to remove contaminants from the indoor air. They come in sizes small enough to fit on a desktop to units large enough to attach to an HVAC unit and work to adequately clean a whole home or business. And being it’s estimated that up to 90 percent of an individual’s time is spent indoors, it can certainly behoove you to take the necessary steps to ensure you’re breathing in fresh, quality air while inside the home or office. There are plenty of benefits of air purifiers, and we’ll get into several of them in this post.

boy celebrating clean air

7 Benefits of Air Purifiers

  1. Less dust buildup: Does it seem like whenever you go about your dusting routine, you’re cleaning up more and more of it off the hard surfaces in your home? If so, the first thing you should do is change your furnace filter and then have your ducts checked to see if you need a duct cleaning, as dirty air could be caught in a circulation cycle throughout the home. But if both of those check out fine, acquiring an air purifier should be your next step. That’s because air purifiers are designed to trap and remove dust from the air well before it has a chance to settle throughout your home. Not only will this make the indoor air more breathable, but it’ll also help cut down on your weekly chores and your home’s overall dust accumulation.
  2. Elimination of allergens: Air purifiers are an especially wise investment for households where individuals suffer from heightened allergies or asthma. The likes of dust, mold, pollen or even pet dander have the potential to set off allergic reactions, and air purifiers help trap and remove such contaminants from the indoor air. The installation of a quality air purifier often directly translates to fewer allergic reactions, asthma attacks and other illnesses.
  3. Eliminate smoke: Whether it’s from indoor tobacco usage or from cooking in the kitchen, air purifiers don’t just trap and remove contaminants, but odors as well. This is a huge benefit when you consider the dangers of second-hand smoke and some of the long-term health effects that it can have, which may include asthma, bronchitis, an increased risk of ear infections and more. Furthermore, second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous if children are regularly exposed to it, as their lungs are still in the developmental stage. Being that air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can remove particles at 0.3 microns in size, cigarette smoke can be properly captured and removed from the air with the right purifier. On a side note, air purifiers can also remove cooking odors so that you’re not smelling the tacos you made for dinner when it’s time for bed at 10 p.m. at night.
  4. Removal of asbestos fibers: Asbestos is a mineral that has been traditionally used in a lot of building materials in older homes. These building materials include ceiling panes, floor tiles and even some plumbing. When left undisturbed, asbestos-containing materials are harmless. However, if these materials were to break and the fibers released into the air and breathed in or ingested, the long-term consequences can be significant. This is largely because the full effects of asbestos exposure and inhalation may take decades to come to fruition, but when they do it results in an advanced lung cancer that is usually very difficult to treat. What’s more is that asbestos fibers are difficult to detect, as they’re both odorless and tasteless. Generally, if you reside in an older home it’s always best to have asbestos-containing materials tested and then properly removed by a professional just to be on the safe side. But if you don’t, and the asbestos-containing materials do become disturbed, an air purifier can help capture the harmful fibers should they become airborne.
  5. Eliminate radon gases: Next to smoking, the leading cause of long-term lung cancer is exposure to elevated levels of radon. Radon is typically found in homes and buildings, as it will enter through cracks in the floors, walls or joints. Some radon exposure is fine, but elevated levels have the potential to lead to lung cancer over the long term. It’s why testing radon levels is encouraged in all homes and businesses, and why January is a month dedicated for this cause. Usually, the solution is as simple as having a contractor come into the home and add some additional ventilation points so that the potentially harmful gasses are more easily circulated out of the home. In the meantime, air purifiers can provide a nice assist, as they can help eliminate radon gas from the home.
  6. Remove harmful VOCs: Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are often found in the likes of paints, sealants, sprays and other chemicals that you may use around the home. While we suggest always checking the label on chemicals and sprays before you purchase them to make sure that they’re safe for indoor use, air purifiers can provide you with a nice backup if you do use one within an indoor environment.
  7. Reduced pollution: While we assume that the inside of our homes are protected from any pollutants that exist outside of them, that’s not necessarily always the case. Pollutants can be drawn into the home via different means, and the level of pollutants can be significant if you live in the city or near busy highways. Good home ventilation can help, as can an air purifier that can capture and remove pollutants from the indoor environment.

What are Air Purifiers?

clean air inside of window

An air purifier is a device that sounds exactly like what it is: an appliance that cleans the air in your home to remove pollutants like animal dander, odors, dust, smoke and other undesirable airborne particles. Air purifiers are often used by people who experience allergies and who have sensitivities to odors. They can be placed anywhere in the home, including common areas like the living room and dining room, or in the bedroom, for a more relaxing night’s rest.

If you’re thinking about using an air purifier in your home, knowing how they work, what features are most important and how to optimize your use of the air purifier can help you get the most out of the experience of owning and using such a device. Here’s what you need to know.

How Does an Air Purifier Work?

Air purifiers work by sucking in air, circulating the air through a filter or device for cleaning, and then blowing the air back into the room. Filters for air purifiers can be made from a variety of materials including paper or fiberglass. Air filters need to be replaced periodically as they become dirty with pollutants. Failure to replace the air filter can force the device to work harder than necessary to clean the air, and can eventually compromise its ability to do its job. Anyone who uses an air purifier must budget for the periodic replacement of the filters. The annual cost of replacement filters can vary depending on the type of purifier being used and the type of filter required for that device.

Who Needs Air Purifiers?

Indoor air quality suffers for many reasons. Common reasons for poor indoor air quality include poor ventilation, old ducts, use of chemicals in the home or a tight building envelope that prevents the home from “breathing.” All of these features can lead to a buildup of moisture mold, dust, pollen and dander. In some homes, tobacco smoke, firewood smoke, radon, pesticides, newly installed carpeting, paint and even asbestos can also have an effect on indoor air quality.

Almost everyone can benefit from an air purifier, but some people benefit more than others. The following are populations that benefit more from air purifiers than other people:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • Seniors
  • People with allergies
  • People with a compromised immune system
  • Asthma sufferers
  • People who live near industrial sites

You may also benefit from an air purifier if you live on a property with many trees, flowers and other plant life that produces pollen. People who have a hard time keeping a clean house can reduce the amount of dust they breathe in by using an air purifier on a regular basis.

What Are the Different Types of Air Purifiers?

Like so many other appliances, air purifiers come in different styles. Each type of air purifier works in slightly different ways and targets different pollutants.

HEPA Air Purifiers

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. HEPA filters remove much smaller particles than standard air filters. HEPA filters are often recommended for people suffering from allergies and asthma, because these devices are generally very effective at removing small particles like pollen and dander.

UV Air Purifiers

Ultraviolet light can destroy bacteria, viruses and pathogens in the air. These devices contain a special UV bulb in a chamber in the center of the device. The purifier passes the air through the chamber, where the light kills the bacteria. UV air purifiers can be used to kill mold spores and are especially effective for people who are allergic to mold. These light bulbs must be replaced, often annually, for the device to keep working.

Ionic Air Purifier

An ionic air purifier works by emitting negative ions into the air. These ions bond with positively charged particles (like dust, dander and bacteria). When the bond is created, the dust becomes too heavy to remain airborne, and falls out of the air. Some air purifiers work by trapping the particles inside the device to be cleaned out later. Some models are self-cleaning, others must be cleaned regularly in order to maintain functionality.

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon air purifiers are designed to remove odors from smoke and fumes inside the home, but do not help with viruses, bacteria, allergies, pet dander and dust. These appliances help people who live close to industrial sites and landfills, where odors can decrease quality of life. Some activated carbon air purifiers also contain a HEPA filter to remove dander.

Buying an Air Purifier? What to Watch For

If you’re buying an air purifier, do your research before purchasing a model for your home. Watch for the following:

  • Filter price and recommended replacement rate. Find out through consumer reports and manufacturer notes how often an air purifier’s parts (like the air filter or UV bulb) need to be replaced, and how much those parts cost. This will help you decide whether you can afford to maintain that particular air purifier.
  • No ozone. Some ionic air purifiers produce ozone, a gas that can irritate the lungs. Check the packaging information to ensure the purifier you buy does not produce ozone.
  • CADR (clean-air delivery rating). The CADR rating indicates how fast the purifier will work. The best devices have a rating of 300 or more.
  • Sizing. Measure the space where the purifier will be operating, then find a model that is properly fitted for that size.

Check for certifications as well. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers is an association designed to ensure the efficiency of a home appliance like an air purifier. Buying an air purifier with AHAM’s logo ensures that this device is certified, effective and reputable.

Do They Really Work?

Dr. Nicholas BuSaba, Associate Professor of otolaryng-ology at Harvard-Medical School, recommends a well-chosen air purifier for anyone who has allergies and who lives with allergens in their home. Pet owners in particular may find air purifiers to be an effective way to eliminate dander and other airborne particles that can affect quality of life. Air purifiers most are effective if the consumer buys a well-rated device that is designed to eliminate the specific pollutants they need to eliminate. Doing research and reading online reviews, consumers can choose the best device for them.