July 10, 2019

Are Air Purifiers Harmful or Do They Help with Allergies?

Can Air Purifiers Be Harmful?

Clean air is essential to good health. To improve the indoor air quality where they live or work, some people — especially those with seasonal allergies or breathing problems — use air purifiers. But a question that may not be asked often enough is, “Can air purifiers be harmful?”. Surprisingly, the answer is that with some air purifier devices, there can be harmful effects. In particular, there are ozone air purifier hazards.

Ozone air purifiers work by putting out large amounts of ozone. Manufacturers claim that the ozone helps clean the air. However, these devices haven’t been shown to improve air quality. Plus, ozone is a major component in smog, and inhaling it creates a significant health risk for humans and animals. Consequently, there are certain air purifiers that should be avoided, including:

  • Ozone purifiers. Also called ozone generators, these devices produce ozone in quantities that can trigger asthma attacks and even potentially scar the lungs.
  • Ionizers and electrostatic precipitators. While these devices put out much less ozone than generators do, they still emit ozone as a byproduct of electrically charging particles in the air in order to get contaminates to attach to the floor and walls in a room.

So, while conditions like seasonal allergies can produce symptoms such as making you feel tired, the wrong type of air purifier can create more health issues than it resolves.

Do Air Purifiers Really Work for Allergies?

The safest and most effective air purifier for allergies is one that pulls air through a filter of some kind. This includes:

  • HEPA air purifiers. High-efficiency particulate air filters use tiny fibers to trap approximately 99.97% of particles larger than 0.3 microns. This includes things like bacteria, viruses and certain chemicals. HEPA devices are among the best air purifiers for allergies and asthma.
  • Activated carbon air purifiers. Carbon is a naturally occurring material that’s found in all living things. When it’s “activated,” it becomes very porous and can trap and retain large amounts of pollutants like chemicals, gas, smoke, and odors. Activated carbon isn’t as effective at trapping particles, so it’s often used in combination with a HEPA filter.

While they typically aren’t used alone, ultraviolet rays can kill germs, viruses, and bacteria. Consequently, they may be incorporated into other allergy air filter devices.

Learn more about allergies or request an appointment with Baptist Health.

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