How Do Air Purifiers Work

How do air purifiers work? Manufacturers offer several types of air purification methods. These include filters, ozone generators, ionization, adsorbents, and UV light. Many devices rely upon 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 than others, especially in different situations. Take a moment to learn about various types of air purifiers that you can buy for your home.

Filters

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 and ULPA filters to keep certain work sites 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.

Adsorbents

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.

Do People Need Air Purifiers?

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. 

This post written by Marilyn K