What Devices Can Be Used To Give Free Flow Oxygen How to Select the Best Air Purifier For Your Needs

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How to Select the Best Air Purifier For Your Needs

Indoor air pollution is a serious problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air pollution levels are two to five times higher indoors. In some buildings with a lack of proper ventilation, the indoor air can be 100 times more polluted than the air outside! This is because modern buildings are built with energy efficiency in mind. However, the tight seals that make a home energy efficient also keep pollutants inside. On top of that, the average American breathes nine out of ten indoors, so it’s imperative to make sure your indoor air is free of allergens and other impurities.

Air purifiers remove allergens, toxic chemicals and other dangerous pollutants. This article explains why people use air purifiers, how they work, which air purifiers you should avoid, and how to choose the best air purifier for your needs.

Common indoor air pollutants

What is the source of indoor air pollution? As for organic pollutants, mold and dust mites are everywhere – and are the two most common causes of year-round allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Pollen is also a ubiquitous allergen that always finds its way into your home because it is so small and sticky. If you have pets, they will surely spread their hair in every corner of your home. Many viruses and bacteria are also airborne.

Although not organic allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) cause allergic reactions and other health problems in many people. VOCs include formaldehyde, fragrances, pesticides, solvents and cleaning agents. VOCs can enter the air through chemical off-gassing from furniture, new carpets, adhesives, plastics and various building materials. Furthermore, many VOCs are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide can also be present in your indoor air, as can toxic heavy metals like airborne lead, mercury vapor, and radon.

How air purifiers work

HEPA air purifiers use a HEPA air filter developed by the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1940s as a way to filter out radioactive contaminants. HEPA filters set the standard for air purifiers: to be classified as HEPA, a filter must capture at least 99.97% of pollutants 0.3 microns or larger. Top-selling HEPA air purifiers include the Austin Air purifier, available with a HEGA (High Efficiency Gas Adsorption) filter, along with IQAir, Allerair, Blueair and Honeywell air purifiers.

Activated carbon filters remove gases, odors and chemical toxins. Carbon is “activated” when treated with oxygen, which opens up millions of tiny pores to attract and adsorb chemicals. Impregnated carbon filters are treated with an additional chemical, usually either potassium iodide or potassium permanganate; these chemicals, known as chemisorbents, improve the carbon filter’s ability to capture VOCs and other chemically reactive gases.

Electrostatic filters use an electrostatic charge to attract pollutants and trap them on collector plates. These filters are great for people who don’t want to worry about changing HEPA filters, but if the collection plates aren’t cleaned often, they lose efficiency quickly. Also, be aware that some electrostatic precipitators emit ozone, which is known to be a strong lung irritant and can be very irritating to some people with asthma or allergies. The Friedrich Air Purifier is by far the best electrostatic air purifier, as well as the top ranked air purifier overall in previous Consumer Reports rankings.

Charged media filters give contaminants an electrostatic charge before they are collected in a traditional filter. Packed media filters are usually very effective, but like electrostatic filters, they lose efficiency quickly – and can require frequent and expensive filter changes. Some air filters with charged media also emit ozone. The advantage of charged media filters is that they are quieter and more energy efficient than HEPA air purifiers. The Blueair air purifier is the best filled media filter and does not emit ozone.

Where and how to use an air purifier

If you suffer from allergies (especially if you are allergic to dust mite allergen), then the best place for an air purifier is your bedroom. It is essential to have clean air in the bedroom because you spend about a third of your life there. If you are allergic to animal dander and have pets, you may want to install an air purifier in the room where your pets spend most of their time – and keep pets out of your bedroom! Also, you should not place the air purifier in the corner of the room; it should be at least a few feet away from the walls for maximum airflow.

An air purifier should run continuously for optimal efficiency. Most air purifiers have high and low settings. Even if you’re going on vacation, we recommend running your air purifier on low. Otherwise, you will return to a house full of polluted air! If you’re worried about your electricity bill, find out how much energy an air purifier uses before you buy it. Typical HEPA air purifiers can use anywhere from 50W on low to 200W on high. In comparison, a typical lamp uses about 60 watts, while a typical computer uses about 365 watts.

Air purifiers to avoid

Avoid ozone generators and ionizing air purifiers. These air purifiers create ions that attract pollutants; however, many pollutants are released back into the air, often leaving dirty stains on nearby walls. In addition to not cleaning the air well, ozone generators and ionizing purifiers also emit ozone. Ozone, a major component of smog, can potentially lead to a serious asthma attack.

Moreover, David Peden, a researcher at the Center for Environmental Medicine and Pulmonary Biology at the University of North Carolina, examined how exposure to ozone can worsen the allergic response of people who are allergic to dust mites, and his results show that ozone worsens the asthmatic response. The EPA has warned consumers against using ozone generators, and Consumer Reports does not recommend the latest Ionic Breeze Quadra, despite the addition of OzoneGuard, a device designed to remove some of the dangerous ozone emitted by the Ionic Breeze.

Consumer Reports points out, “Our air purification tests show that the Ionic Breeze with OzoneGuard poorly removes smoke, dust and pollen particles from the air when new and after 500 hours of continuous use” and “The Ionic Breeze with OzoneGuard continues to add ozone to the air.”

How to buy the best air purifier

The air purifier market is huge and riddled with confusing and often misleading advertising schemes. If you are shopping for an air purifier, you should first consider what pollutants you are trying to eliminate. For example, if you have problems with cigarette smoke, you should make sure that your air purifier has the ability to remove vapors, VOCs and other gases.

You should also consider the following factors before purchasing an air purifier: area coverage (check if the square footage listed for the air purifier is about the same or slightly larger than the square footage of the room you intend to use it in); ACH rating (Air changes per hour – this number tells you how often the air purifier can change all the air in a certain room); CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate tells you how much air is being cleaned and how well it is being cleaned); price; how often you have to change the filters and how much they cost; noise level of the air purifier; energy consumption; does it emit ozone; additional features (such as a filter change light indicator); manufacturer’s reputation; and warranty.

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