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Do Air Purifiers Work for Allergies?

I s it allergy season again? We know what is coming your way. The sneezing, coughing, irritated skin, they all make life harder and can affect any aspect of it. The stuffy nose won’t let you sleep, and natural remedies don’t seem to always work. But there’s still one solution to try: an air purifier.

Since you are here, you’ve probably thought about it, and now it remains to determine if one of these devices can help you cut on the number of allergens you inhale. Many people pick air purification systems for their homes for different reasons, and they have proven efficient against odors and dust. But are they powerful enough to stop your symptoms? We are bound to find out.

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What Causes Indoor Allergies?

A wide range of particles can travel through the air and irritate your breathing system, and some of them can be even more dangerous than you would thing, causing illnesses that affect the heart or the lungs. For example, the PM2.5 particles in smoke are so tiny that they can enter the bloodstream. However, indoors, you will find the following allergens:

  • Pollen – It spreads largely outdoors, but if you keep your windows open, it will find its way into your rooms. Moreover, you can bring it with you on your clothes or shoes.
  • Dust – It is a huge problem, especially if a construction site is found nearby your house. Dust uses open windows and doors along with any opening it can find to get inside. It deposits on the furniture and floors, so weekly, even daily dusting and vacuuming is mandatory.
  • Dust mites – Are tiny insects that feed with dead human skin and hair and find a good place to grow in mattresses and beddings, especially if dust is present. They irritate the skin, creating discomfort.
  • Pet hair and dander – Left behind by our companions, they are light enough to travel through the air and get inhaled.
  • Mold spores – Mold is dangerous, especially if it is a species that releases toxins. At the same time, the spores are highly irritant for the breathing system. However, if you have a mold problem, you should consider lowering the humidity level and proceed to clean the area, as an air cleaner can’t help you with that.
  • VOCs – Can be found in tobacco smoke and cleaning supplies. They are gaseous compounds that sometimes have a specific smell but are invisible to the human eye. They usually affect asthma sufferers, who will immediately notice their presence.

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How Can an Air Purifier Help?

By installing an air purifier in your room, you will set a strong line of defense against allergens. The technologies may differ, but the main purpose of this device is to capture the particles and gases that float around the space and purify the air so they don’t come in contact with your skin or respiratory system anymore. Some models can offer protection against microorganisms as well through built-in UV lamps while others can combine multiple filtering systems to increase efficiency.

Will Any Device Work?

Not all models are efficient against allergies. Some can handle only odors while others will only provide air sanitation by inactivating or killing germs and bacteria. Check out the following table so you can understand why only some models are right for you.

Purification Technologies Compared

Action HEPA Filter Activated Carbon Ionizer UV-C Light Ozone Generator
Dust Removal
Dust Mites Removal
Polen Removal
Odor removal
Tobacco Smoke Removal
Pet dander Removal
Pet Hair Removal
Mold Spores Removal
Germ and Bacteria Removal
VOCs Removal

The comparison from above shows that only a combination between a True HEPA filter and a carbon activated filter can ensure the maximum protection against allergens. This system is suitable for baby rooms as well, as it runs without releasing ozone or other compounds which, although they may not pose a threat for adults, may affect a child’s sensitive breathing system.

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What to Consider When Picking an Air Cleaner for Allergies?

Even if you pick a HEPA system, it may not work if it wasn’t designed for your specific needs. Some parameters should be considered, and you may even need to make some measurements before picking the right model. Furthermore, even after you have installed it, you will need to follow some guidelines to make sure it works as it should.

Size the Device

You will want it to be able to cover the entire space. If the airflow isn’t strong enough, it won’t be able to draw all the air inside the unit for filtering and all the struggle will be for nothing. This is why you should first take a look at the size of the room where you are going to use it. Measure the length, height, and width and then calculate the volume according to the following formula:

Volume = Length x Width x Height cubic feet

Now you can check the specifications of every device and see if it is suitable.

Some companies only display the area their model can cover, which is rather useless, as the height of the room can vary. It can be either 8 feet, 10 feet, or even 12 feet. Therefore, always check if it is the volume you are reading and not the area. On the other hand, if this information isn’t provided, a unit with a large coverage area will probably be able to cover a pretty large volume as well, but you will need to use it in a room that has about half the foot square they display.

Check Out the Airflow

We all want quiet devices that can do heavy cleaning jobs without giving a sign that they exist. However, no matter how silent the manufacturer claims it to be, an air purifier includes a fan that will move air around the room. It is impossible for it not to be heard. Even the wind makes a noise that can be heard. So, yes, you will probably hear it, but a high-quality unity will be more silent.

We’ve brought this into the discussion because we are about to introduce a new variable you need to take into account when purchasing a model: the airflow. You will want to check the specifications for it and here you will find a value followed by CFM. It will show you the air volume the machine can filter. The rule is the bigger the value the better.

Another important aspect is how often it can circulate the air in an hour. You can find out by following the next steps:

  • Find out how long does one air exchange takes – Divide the volume of the room to the airflow value
  • Find out the number of air exchanges per hour – Divide 60 minutes by the value obtained at the previous step

For the device to be performant, it should be able to circulate the air at least four to six times in an hour. More expensive models will change it even more often, some overcoming 10 times per hour.

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How to Maximize Filtering Efficiency?

Understanding how an air filtering machine works is essential so you can know what to do to improve its performance. If the device doesn’t find the right conditions, it won’t be able to function at maximum capacity and you will still struggle with the effects of allergies while paying a higher power bill. So, here is some advice:

Pick the Right Room

Although you may be spending a lot of time reading or watching tv in the living room, you spend even more in your bedroom, as sleep take a lot of our lives. So, place it there and keep the door closed, so the environment doesn’t get contaminated.

If you wish to cover the entire house, you will need a device in each room, as there’s not yet a machine that can cover such a large space, especially as walls and doors are involved. You will easily find models specialized in cleaning the air for basements or attics. You should consider them as well, as these places can be hidden sources of allergens.

Run It All the Time

It probably sounds expensive, but the only way you will get some effects is by keeping the machine on day and night. The good news though, is that most of them consume less than 100W, so your expenses will be moderate. And, if you wish to save some money, you can select a lower speed. This will reduce the noise made by the fan as well.

Perform Periodical Maintenance

By replacing the filter in time, you will keep the unit working properly. Generally, an activated carbon filter will last you for up to 3 months, while HEPAs have longer lifespans, reaching up to 12 months. If you have chosen a washable or permanent filter, learn how to clean them in our article about HEPA maintenance. However, when dealing with allergy, it is better if you go for a replaceable filter, as only this way you can have the certitude it will keep its efficiency.

Bottom Line

Today it is easier than ever to deal with allergies. You’ve got drugs, natural remedies, and machines that can clean the air for you. It is all a question of finding the right combination that will help you stay comfortable both indoors and outdoors.

As shown, an air purifier can help a lot, but you must make the effort of checking if it is the right one. Carefully measure your space and make sure it can handle the volume of air. At the same time, try to create the right conditions for it to function. Then you will be able to enjoy your allergy-free afternoons and nights.

Lillian Davies
Lillian Davies
Lillian is a fresh college graduate who has lived in Tucson for most of her life, battling the torrid heat ever since she was a child. She is quite versed in the topic of thermal comfort and what solutions work to make conditions more bearable when the temperatures go haywire, which makes her knowledgeable in the topics she writes about here. Since she is a perfectionist, Lilian always takes time to polish her articles before release, which makes her an irreplaceable part of the team.

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