To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

What Are the Benefits of an Air Purifier?

What are the benefits of an air purifier - featured. A hand presses the touch screen button on a large air purifier

Pollutants are increasingly impacting the air quality inside our homes. Discover how an air purifier may offer a quick and simple solution

There are thousands of chemical compounds in our homes, according to the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS)’s book, Why Indoor Chemistry Matters. These come from a variety of sources: from the materials used to build our homes, to the gases and particles released as we cook. So how can we remove these pollutants?

Air purifiers are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to clean the air in our homes. Models tend to deploy three types of filters: a HEPA filter to tackle air pollutants, including allergens; a preliminary filter for removing larger particles such as pet dander, dust and lint; and, finally, an activated carbon filter for extracting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) out of the air.

Dr Shelly Miller, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, says: “Air cleaners are helpful if you live in an urban area, near a busy roadway, in a location where wildfire smoke is impacted or if you do not have an extractor hood in your kitchen.”

Removing pollutants from indoor air is especially important for those who are more susceptible to the impact of air pollution – for example, the very young or people with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, who potentially spend even more time indoors than the average person.

What is the impact of pollutants?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report on indoor air quality and the issues it can cause. It featured a list of complaints, from irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; headaches; dizziness and fatigue. There’s even a documented health condition called “sick building syndrome”, where people suffer a series of symptoms inside a building, but which improve significantly or disappear altogether once they leave.

Some pollutants, including radon and carbon monoxide, can have huge health implications. However, the most common air pollutants, which include dust mites and pet dander, impact people with respiratory conditions such as asthma most.

What are the benefits of an air purifier?

Better sleep

Research by The Sleep Foundation suggests improved sleep quality is just one advantage that people see as a result of an air purifier. Allergens in the air can cause issues such as nasal congestion and irritation in the throat, nose and eyes. These reactions increase the chances of snoring, sleep apnoea or a night-time asthma attack – all of which result in a disturbed night of sleep. By removing the majority of indoor air pollutants, air purifiers allow people to literally breathe easier, and therefore have a more restful night’s sleep.

Skin health

Irritants such as dust mites and allergens such as pollen can cause the skin on our bodies to become itchy and irritated. Hay fever sufferers will attest to the negative impact that pollen can have on their skin. Toxins in the air can also impact collagen production and cell maintenance; and worsen conditions such as psoriasis and inflammatory acne, say scientists.

Air purifiers not only remove such irritants from the air, they do so without altering moisture levels, which means they won’t dry out skin.

Reduction in airborne viruses and bacteria

If regular bouts of colds and flu are a concern, then air purifiers can also reduce the spread of bacteria and airborne viruses, reducing the chances of you becoming ill. They won’t help with any particles that have settled on surfaces, though, so you’ll still need to be mindful of wiping over hard surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner.

Some air purifiers are photocatalytic, which means they can break down bacteria and virus particles by deploying the electrostatic and oxidization effects of the ions these filters generate. Some models also boast an ultraviolet (UV) light, which is known to have sterilizing effects.

Decreased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses

Another report from the EPA revealed that 10 of 11 intervention studies “…found a significant improvement in at least one measured cardiovascular health outcome or marker of cardiovascular health outcomes” with the use of air purifiers. Scientists are calling for more research, but the impact on asthma sufferers of using air purifiers is also gaining credibility. Dr Miller adds that some allergies are seasonal – so, for example, respiratory issues may peak for hay fever sufferers in the summer – and it would be at that time when an air purifier would come into its own in their home.

Increased cognition

A study carried out by a team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggested that indoor air quality has an impact on cognitive function. They recorded slower response times as they increased the levels of particulate matter in the air.

How to choose the right air purifier

So, the benefits of employing an air purifier to tackle poor air quality in your home are certainly well founded. However, it’s important to choose the right model for your space and location; as Dr Miller explains, a rural and urban home will have different demands.

What are the benefits of an air purifier. Bladeless purifying tower fan on the floor in a bedroom

Think about the specific pollutants that you’re aiming to target, since this will determine not only the type of filter that you should prioritize when making your choice of air purifier, but also the number of filters you’ll need. In addition, consider the square footage that a particular model can cover, its percentage efficiency rate, and clean air delivery rate (CADR). You might also want to think about portability and, of course, cost.

Finally, you should also consider noise. Air purifiers perform best when used continuously, so it’s important to opt for a model that won’t annoy – or keep you awake at night when you’re trying to sleep.

As scientists and government agencies continue to research the health of our indoor air, now seems the right time to take action. The right air purifier will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of everyone in your home.

Read more

In Depth