Can an Air Purifier Make You Sick?

The number of people using air purifiers within the home has risen considerably over the past decade or so. Mainly this is because people want to improve the air quality within the home. But why you may ask, has it suddenly become so bad that there is a need for these machines to exist in the first place?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is due to a number of factors, but ultimately, it’s because of the general rise in global air pollution. And while we may not be able to control the air quality outside the home, when it comes to improving it inside the home, there are options – i.e. an air cleaner in the form of an air purifier.

Recent years have seen extensive research carried out in this area, specifically looking at the effectiveness of air filters and their efficiency in successfully reducing particulate matter and allergens indoors.

This of course is hugely positive and can lead to significant health benefits to those that suffer from asthma or other cardiovascular issues.

However, there are also a lot of questions emerging as to whether or not these appliances can make you sick. In this article, we will look to dispel the myths and reveal the facts so you can decide the best course of action for you.

Are Air Purifiers Safe?

 

Air purifiers work by removing harmful allergens and other airborne particles from within the home. The way in which they’re designed allows them to draw in unfiltered air and pass it through a filter so that it comes out as ‘clean air’. They can be a great help to anyone who suffers with asthma, allergies, or any other underlying health conditions.

Most decent air purifiers available today are equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, meaning they have met the stringent standards of how effective they are. To qualify as a HEPA filter, air purifiers sold in the USA must be able to remove a minimum of 99.97% of any particle with a diameter equal to 0.3 micrometer. This percentage must also increase when the particle size falls above or below this size.

Quite simply, air filters and air purifiers are preventing us from breathing in dirty air, and if they weren’t deemed to be safe then they wouldn’t be HEPA approved.

Do They Dry Out the Air?

In a nutshell, no. Contrary to what a lot of people are led to believe, air purifiers don’t change the humidity level in the air. They are not designed to do this and are not equipped to do this. While air is filtered through the system, there’s nowhere for an air purifier to capture moisture from the air.

If you use an air conditioner, this could be one reason as to why you have dry air. To counteract the effects of this, some people choose to use a humidifier within the home. But we’ll leave that for another day and you can check out our full guide on the differences between air purifiers and humidifiers here.


allergy sufferer


Can They Make You Sick?

An air purifier alone should not make you sick. Yet there are still a great deal of people questioning this. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the main areas of concern and whether there is any truth behind the claims.

Sore throat

If you’ve got a HEPA air purifier, this one couldn’t be further from the truth. Because air purifiers work to remove bacteria from the air, they actually help in reducing the occurrence of sore throats and sicknesses. They’re also very effective at eliminating allergens too and can work wonders when placed in the bedroom to help ensure you get a peaceful night’s sleep.

If, however, you have an ionizing air purifier you may experience a slight throat irritation. This is because air ionizers work slightly different to HEPA air purifiers. Instead of taking in air to filter it, they emit charged particles into the air to clean it instead. An unfortunate byproduct of this process is a tiny amount of ozone. And while it is only a very small amount, it is enough to cause people with chronic respiratory system issues, minor throat irritation.

Headaches

One of the most commonly asked questions relating to health we receive is: “Do air purifiers cause headaches?”. Referring back to the above section on sore throats, provided you have a HEPA air purifier, this should not be an issue as they work to remove any harmful allergens, mold spores, or odors that may cause a headache. It’s also important you consider the right location for your air purifier, if you do that then you should see the quality of the air improve dramatically within your home.

Even those ionizing type air purifiers shouldn’t be a problem as the trace amount of ozone that’s emitted from them is not enough to cause a headache.

Nosebleeds

This is definitely an unsubstantiated claim regardless of the type of air purifier you have. Other than those instances relating to underlying medical conditions, nosebleeds can also be caused when the air is dry. However, air purifiers do not dry out the air. Therefore, they cannot be a trigger for nosebleeds.

Cough

Similar to that of the nosebleed scenario, if you’re breathing in dry and dusty air, it is likely to make you cough. But with an air purifier in the room working to remove any allergens, pet dander, and other irritants from the air, the chances of you coughing should be reduced significantly.

How to Ensure You Air Purifier Doesn’t Make You Sick

While the air purifier alone is not enough to make you sick, combined with a number of other factors, it may. The following are just a few helpful hints as to what you can do to prevent this from happening:

  • Avoid Ozone gas-producing air purifiers: Overexposure to ozone gas is extremely dangerous. Not only can it cause coughing, wheezing, and a tightening of the chest, in some extreme circumstances it can be fatal. Even a small amount can cause inflammation in the throat and lungs. Therefore, it’s best to avoid air purifiers that emit ozone gas, regardless of how effective it claims to be. The best way to do this is to opt for a HEPA air purifier. With one of these, you avoid ozone gas altogether.

 

  • Clean or change the filter regularly: Having a dirty filter in your air purifier is just as bad as not having one at all. To ensure your appliance remains effective at removing pollutants it’s vital that you clean or change your filter regularly (in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions).

 

  • Use natural air purifiers as well within the home (i.e. plants). The air within the home is full of dust mites, allergens, pet dander, and other harmful lung irritants. And while air purifiers are very effective at filtering the air surrounding them, they simply can’t get everywhere at once. So, in order to achieve the very best air quality you can at home, try to use natural air purifiers in addition to an electrical one.

Some plants are very good at absorbing harmful toxins from the air, particularly in areas of reduced air flow. Spider plants are good for this and are easy to maintain. Bamboo palms are even better but take a little more looking after. Both are non-toxic so are safe for those with kids and/or pets.

Beeswax candles also act as natural air purifiers. These burn very slowly and produce very little smell or smoke. Yet they are highly effective at neutralizing toxic compounds and removing harmful allergens from the air.      

Conclusion

If you experience any of the above symptoms while in your home, then the chances of these being side effects caused solely by an air purifier is slim, and almost non-existent if it’s a HEPA air purifier but we always recommend speaking to a medical professional if you’re worried.

Your indoor air quality will improve significantly through the help of a high-quality air purifier. Not only will it help to eliminate any dust, pet dander, allergens, or other irritants in the air, it will also help rid any nasty odors too.

Chad Hill

Hey, I'm Chad. I started Skyonic because I genuinely believe air quality is one of the most important contributors to the overall quality of our health. When I'm not blogging about air purifiers, you can catch me traveling and exploring some of...

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