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Do Air Purifiers Really Work: 10 Myths You Should Know About?

Air purifiers are a popular solution for people who suffer from asthma or various allergies due to indoor air contaminants. Tiny particles such as dust, pet dander, pollen, dust mite feces, mould spores, and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can wreak havoc on people who are prone to certain allergies, but air purifiers are designed to provide relief by removing these types of impurities from the air.

I’m sure you have asked some (or all) of these questions below:

  • Are air purifiers effective?
  • Are air purifiers worth it?
  • Are air purifiers necessary?

Unfortunately, there are quite a bit of false claims and misunderstandings regarding what air purifiers can and cannot do; below are some of the most common myths in circulation along with the facts to help you separate truth from fiction.

Myth #1: Once you have an air purifier, you will never need to dust again.

While air purifiers are highly effective, they cannot magically remove all dust from all surfaces in your home so that you’ll never have to dust again. Any air purifier that could do this would probably be powerful enough to “vacuum” your furniture into its vortex as well. Unfortunately, dust will always be a part of the human plight, so your best bet would be to invest in a good Hepa vacuum cleaner as well as some microfibre dusting cloths in order to keep your furniture and floors free from dust.

Myth #2: Air purifiers are a “cure-all” for your allergies.

While air purifiers can make a huge difference in the air quality of an indoor space, they are only one component of a comprehensive allergy control program. Some allergens such as pollen are heavier than other airborne particles, which means that they can sometimes sink to the ground quicker than an air purifier can catch them. Additional cleaning measures are needed as well to control allergens as much as possible, including steam cleaning and/or using a dehumidifier.

Myth #3: Air purifiers will eliminate all odours in your home, so you won’t have to focus too much on regular cleaning.

The odour-eliminating properties of an air filter does not negate regular household cleaning duties. Litter boxes will still need to be changed, trash will still need to be taken out and dirty clothes will still need to be washed in order to minimize unpleasant odours in a home. While air purifiers can reduce odours, the better solution is to remove the cause of the odour altogether.

Myth #4: As long as you have a Hepa filter in your air purifier, it will do a great job.

There are several factors (e.g., size, construction quality, etc.) that go into whether or not an air filter will do an adequate job, and you can’t always assume that installing a high-quality air filter such as a Hepa will translate into optimal air purifier performance. In some cases, it can even be the design of the air purifier itself that can hinder the effectiveness of the air filter.

Myth #5: The first thing you should do to help relieve dust mite allergies is to buy an air purifier.

While air purifiers generally do an excellent job of catching airborne dust mite particles, they should not be your first line of defence in dealing with this troublesome issue. The more effective route to take is to first purchase some dust mite covers for your mattress and pillows, as these are the main places where dust mites love to hang out. Once you have those items in place, you can then depend upon your air purifier to catch any dust mite particles floating around in the air.

Myth #6: If you suffer from allergies, do not open your windows.

This is a commonly believed misconception based on the premise that if you let outdoor air into your home, you will also let in new allergens at the same time. The truth is that every home needs a certain amount of new, fresh air coming into it each day. This can be accomplished by way of an automatic fresh air exchanger, but if you do not have one of these devices, just open your windows (at least two of them) for about an hour each day. Once you’ve done this, your air purifier will do the rest.

Myth #7: If your air purifier has a Hepa filter, it will remove odours.

Having a Hepa filter in your air purifier is not a guarantee that it will remove odours. You actually need a separate filter that contains a sufficient amount of carbon to be able to do that, but not many air purifiers have this feature.

Myth #8: The speed at which you run your air filter doesn’t matter; it will do the same job regardless.

Speed is actually a very significant issue when it comes to the efficiency of your air purifier. If you keep it on a low speed setting, possibly to reduce noise from the fan, you will actually reduce the amount of square footage that the air purifier will be able to adequately cover. It is best to find an air purifier that has a low-noise fan even at high speeds, but if the cost of such a purifier is prohibitive, your best bet would be to run the air purifier on high for a few hours before bedtime, and then switch to the low setting during the night.

Myth #9: Air purifiers get rid of germs and viruses.

While air purifiers are excellent at removing undesirable airborne particles, they are not primarily designed to eliminate viruses. There are some air purifiers on the market that feature ultraviolet technology which can purportedly kill viruses, but unfortunately these pathogens are typically not retained in the filter long enough to be killed. Very few air purifiers have the type of advanced Hepa filter necessary to sufficiently capture viruses, while only a handful of other purifiers on the market use a heat-based sterilization process in order to eliminate pathogens.

Myth #10: Air purifiers can eliminate second-hand tobacco smoke.

Only a very small number of air purifiers have been designed to eliminate the airborne toxins and chemicals associated with second-hand tobacco smoke. The rest of the purifiers on the market mainly help clean up the residual particles left behind in the air in areas where people have been smoking.

With all of the false claims and misinformation in circulation regarding air purifiers, it is easy to be misled about what these helpful devices can or cannot do. Keep the above information in mind to help you develop a more comprehensive strategy to keep those aggravating allergies at bay.

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