These three questions determine if my home air purifier guide is right for you:
- Would you like to know more about how to choose the best air purifier for your family?
- Do you want only the best air purifier articles; well researched, independent and unbiased with no hype or deceptive marketing?
- Will you allow me the time to help you uncover the facts you need to know about home air purifiers?
You and I are both fully aware of the sorry state of affairs among websites about air purifiers.
What would it take for this site to be a credible home air purifier guide in your eyes?
What would it take for you personally to view my site as authoritative, comprehensive, informative and useful – a real help to you?
I don’t believe the answers to these questions lies in pitching products to you at every turn.
I believe your goal is clean air – not to become the proud owner of a shiny new air purifier. So think of my site as a “How to get clean air guide” instead.
So what does clean air mean to you? Does it mean relief from allergy, asthma, odors and chemicals, or airborne illness?
Whom are you seeking to protect: Yourself, a family member, or a child? If your real goal is to protect and care for the health and welfare of your family then isn’t your personal air purifier choice an act of love?
That is a profound and necessary realization, without which no web author will understand why a wise decision is important to you.
Is even one home air purifier guide demonstrating that understanding? Is even one addressing your real needs? Is even one understanding the anxieties you have over making the right choice?
My goal is for my guide to be that one.
Activated Carbon Air Purifiers
If you’re just beginning your air purifier search, the benefits of activated carbon filtration may not be foremost in your mind. You may be more concerned about relieving allergies or asthma, leading you to think in terms of irritants like dust, pollen, and dander.
However, the odors and chemicals in your home and workplace are also of serious concern. Because of the health effects of chemical contaminants, better quality air purifiers include activated carbon filtration.
Activated carbon air filters are the most effective type of filter against chemicals, gases, cigarette smoke and odors.
How do these and other airborne chemicals affect youand your family? Research reveals a long and dire list of negative health effects. Have you experienced any of these symptoms at home or work?
- Colds, flu and virus infections
- Coughing and sneezing, wheezing
- Dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin
- Ear infection
- Heart disease
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity)
- Memory loss
- Respiratory disease
- Respiratory infections, bronchitis
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Sinus congestion and sinus infection
- Symptoms similar to a cold
Surely you want to avoid these health problems.
Using activated carbon for air purification will make your air healthier and more pleasant. You will especially benefit if you suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or any hyper reactive airway disorder that makes you sensitive to chemical pollutants.
Is air purification with activated carbon filtration effective?
Air purification with activated carbon air filters is the single best way to remove chemical pollutants from the air. Activated carbon can adsorb as much as 60% of its weight in pollutants.
Activated carbon filters will adsorb some of almost any vapor. They have a large capacity for organic molecules, especially solvents. Activated carbon can adsorb and retain a wide variety of chemicals at the same time.
Activated carbon air filters work well under a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels; are inert and safe to handle and use; and are readily available and affordable.
Activated carbon filtration can remove organic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, chlorinated hydrocarbons, esters, ethers, ketones, mercaptans, amines, halogens, halogen acids, sulfuric acid, sulfur dioxide, phosgene, as well as odors from human and animal sources, urine and other waste, perfumes and household cleaning chemicals.
You should be aware that while activated carbon is excellent for removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some compounds like formaldehyde and inorganic gases respond best to chemisorbers that break down the pollutants by chemical reaction.
You should look for air purifiers containing activated carbon impregnated with appropriate chemisorbers and catalysts to control the particular pollutants that concern you.
What purifiers offer activated carbon filtration using special carbon blends?
Depending on the chemicals and odors you wish to control you may need to select a specialized activated carbon filter.
Activated carbon blends with differing properties result from the source of the activated carbon, the methods used to create it, and any added chemisorbed and catalysts. These catalysts and chemisorbers enhance the adsorption of specific pollutants such as volatile organic compounds or cigarette smoke.
However, few air purifier manufacturers offer you an opportunity to select a custom activated carbon blend.
I have found that Allerair air purifiers, with over forty different activated carbon blends available, can meet anyone’s needs with ease. Allerair can also provide highly customized blends for special purposes to labs, industry, military or anyone with needs beyond the usual residential, health care, or commercial uses.
Allerair leads the way in odor and chemical control. This is typically what the homeowner is most concerned with.
Allerair also has activated carbon blends that will handle radioactive gases, toxic gases of military or terrorist use (check out their Sentinel unit for biological, nuclear and chemical weapon threats), sewage plants and poultry plants, and museums. If you’re going to buy an air purifier, it only makes sense to purchase one that can control practically anything.
The Air Ionizer
One of the most confusing terms in the field of air purification is the air ionizer. In one advertisement after another we find air cleaning devices with widely varied technologies claiming to ionize the air. So just exactly what are we talking about when we use the term “air ionizer”.
The one thing that all these air cleaning devices have in common is they are a form of electronic air purifier. Electronic air purifiers use a high voltage wiring system to create an electrical charge that results in particulates passing through becoming negatively charged. Most of the best humidifier and air purifier in the market today fall into this category
But after that the similarity ends and a whole host of differences begin to show up. Some use collector plates and some don’t. Some have a fan and others don’t. Some use a charged media filter and others use various mechanical filters including HEPA type filtration. Some use the ionization potential to deliberately create ozone and some attempt to reduce ozone byproducts with catalysts. Finally, there are the hybrids that mix and match approaches, sometimes including as many as five different technologies.
It’s no wonder that comparing air ionizer air cleaners is confusing. How can you know what is effective? Are there any that should definitely be avoided?
The vast field of products renders it ridiculously difficult to evaluate air ionizers individually. However, it is possible to break down the basic technological approaches used and determine if any one or combination is worthwhile.
The four primary technologies found in air ionizer devices are:
- The electrostatic precipitator
- The charged media filter
- The negative ion generator
- The ozone generator
Each of these receives a brief overview below, but are discussed more thoroughly on their own individual pages. Links are provided below.
The electrostatic precipitator
The electrostatic precipitator uses a series of collector plates with a charge opposite that of the ionized particles. This results in a powerful electrostatic attraction that pulls the particles to the plates like a magnet.
It is possible for particles as small as 0.1 micron to be collected this way. Since this is smaller than the 0.3 micron rating of HEPA filters you will sometimes see claims that these devices are better than HEPA. However, it must be pointed out that even the best electrostatic precipitators are only 80% efficient. Compare this to the 99.97% efficiency of a HEPA filter.
Apart from the poor initial collection efficiency is the additional flaw that the plates progressively lose efficiency as material is collected. Research shows that in as few as three days you can lose as much as 80% of the collection efficiency of clean plates. This means your electrostatic precipitator will only be attracting about 20% of the particles passing through it. Regular maintenance cleaning is an absolute necessity. At a minimum, the collection plates should be cleaned twice a week and every day would be best in order to achieve maximum efficiency.
On a final note, electrostatic precipitators will produce ozone in sufficient quantities to be an irritant to many people, especially those with pulmonary related illnesses like asthma.
For a thorough discussion of features and faults follow the link, Electrostatic Precipitators.
The charged media filtermedia charged filter and brief faults
The negative ion generatornegative ionizer no collector and brief faults
The ozone generatorozone generator and faults
Eleven ways air ionizers unerperform
- Low efficiency. Even the best models only achieve 80% efficiency at particle removal. They are unable to clean the air to HEPA standards.
- Rapid loss of efficiency. Loading of collector plates with captured particles rapidly degrades efficiency at collecting further particles. Efficiency can be reduced to below 20% in as few as three days.
- Constant maintenance. The rapid reduction in collection efficiency due to plate loading requires regular maintenance cleaning. From twice a week to daily is recommended, depending on the environment.
- Reduction in efficiency over life of unit. Even with regular maintenance cleaning, collection efficiency will degrade as constant bombardment from high energy ions corrodes the needlepoint ionizers or ionizing wire.
- Short life. Corrosion of the ionizing wire or needlepoint ionizing pins by ion bombardment will result in failure of the air ionizer. Hence, short warranties.
- Ozone production. All air ionizers produce ozone, a hazardous gas that damages the tissues of the airways causing increased sensitization to allergens, difficulty breathing for asthmatics, and possible severe respiratory distress.
- Limited coverage area. Government regulations on ozone exposure levels effectively requires manufacturers to balance the ionization potential of their units against the level of ozone produced. This serves to limit the area an ionizer can effectively clean. This means that you must buy multiple units to achieve the same coverage area as a single HEPA purifier may be capable of handling.
- Limited area, part II. Low air flow. The need for ionized particles to spend sufficient time in the air ionizer to be deflected onto the collection plates means air speed must be slow. Thus, air ionizers often use no fan or a low speed fan. Low air flow means low air volume handled by the unit and thus significant limitations on the size of the area that can be cleaned. Again, you must buy several units to achieve the coverage of a single HEPA air purifier.
- No effect on gaseous contaminants. Chemical toxins, mold mycotoxins, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, the hundreds of chemicals in cigarette smoke all pass through an air ionizer unaffected.
- Black wall effect / Black lung. Ionized particles not collected on plates in the electrostatic precipitator or by design with a negative ion generator will instead collect on walls, furniture, or any available surface. This includes the inside surface of your lungs. This effect has been given a name. It’s called the black wall effect. The health hazard of negatively charged respirable particles adhering to your lung tissues has been noted by the EPA. See: Possible effects of particle charging
- Arbitrary pricing serves as no guide. Testing often shows that high priced models may perform no better or even worse than cheaper ones. Quality of materials and construction, durability, and effectiveness do not seem to play a consistent role in pricing. Rather, it seems the basis for price is simply what the market will bear for the promise of clean air. This situation is often pointed out by the sellers of air ionizers themselves.