If you suffer from allergies, an air purifier can help reduce your symptoms and allow you to relax in your home. Airborne allergens can cause sneezing, congestion, itchy or watery eyes, and breathing problems. Exposure to these particles and gases can trigger asthma and increase your need for allergy medication. Children and elderly people are especially sensitive to indoor air pollutants, which can affect their health in the long term and even increase their risk of developing respiratory conditions later in life.
Most air purifiers work on a simple principle: they force the air through a filter or series of filters. Different models use different technologies and work with different sizes of particles or gases. A mechanical filter, for example, uses fans to force the air through a dense web of tightly woven fibers—think of your shirt’s weave but with much finer threads—that trap particles as they pass through. Filters with very high efficiency, like HEPA filters, can also remove bacteria from the air. Look for a HEPA filter with an antimicrobial coating that can kill some bacteria, including the Legionella bacteria that causes legionnaire disease.
Other types of air purifiers include an electrostatic precipitator, which charges particles that pass through it and then binds them to plates with opposite charge; and an ionizing electronic air cleaner or ozone generator, which emits charged particles that cling to dust and other contaminants. Lastly, some UV air purifiers shine a powerful stream of UV light into a forced airflow. This can reduce bacteria and viruses that are vulnerable to UV radiation. Look for a model that has been certified by an independent testing agency for safety and effectiveness.