It's well known that they can capture allergens, but do air purifiers help with bad smells? We have all the answers you need.
The clue to what they do is in the name, but do air purifiers help with bad smells too? As concerns around indoor and outdoor air pollution rise, the air purifier market has expanded, and with more research emerging every day on how air purifiers may also help to reduce airborne viruses according to the CDC, it's no wonder they’re becoming more popular.
Manufacturers of air purifiers claim they can remove bad odors from our environments by improving air quality, but is this really true? We look at the research around air purifiers and consider whether there’s enough evidence to prove that air purifiers really can tackle and remove bad smells in our homes.
WHICH TYPES OF ODORS DO AIR PURIFIERS HELP WITH?
This may depend on the air purifier you’re buying. According to the EPA, some air purifiers can tackle moldy odors, alongside the usual offenders of cooking smells, pet odors, tobacco smoke, and other lingering aromas.
Some air purifiers also have an activated carbon filter as well as a particle filter, which means they can tackle gas and chemical odors that may come from building materials, pesticides, and fire retardants.
HOW DO AIR PURIFIERS REMOVE ODORS?
Air purifiers work by using fans to draw in allergens from the air. The exact particles they remove depends on the type of air purifier.
Some purifiers use negative ion emitting technology, which helps to attract particles. However, the EPA warns that these air purifiers can release ozone emissions into the home, which is a health risk. The California Air Resource Board also recommends against using ozone-generating devices at home because of the risks to health.
Most air purifiers typically use filtering technologies to capture polluting particles and gases from the air. A washable or disposable prefilter captures pet dander, hair, and other larger particles. Don’t forget to follow your manufacturer’s instructions on replacing or cleaning this filter.
Smaller particles that pass through the prefilter are then captured by a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which is made up of layers of fiberglass threads. As the particles are drawn in, they become trapped within this high-density mesh.
It’s worth knowing, however, that HEPA filters designed for home use have no widely accepted definition of good performance, so quality may vary across products. They also need to be replaced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Several air purifiers feature a further gas-phase air filter. It uses a material called a sorbent, such as activated carbon, to absorb harmful gas pollutants as they move through it. It’s worth knowing that these filters can usually only remove a limited number of gas pollutants. The EPA states that carbon monoxide, which is a dangerous gaseous pollutant, cannot currently be absorbed by residential air purifiers. So, if you have a wood burning stove, gas fire, or kerosene lamp burning, your air purifier won’t capture any of the carbon monoxide it emits.
Some air purifiers use ultra-violet light technology to destroy indoor air pollutants, such as bacteria, viruses, and allergens such as mold spores and pollen. However, many bacteria and mold spores require more exposure to UV light than these devices actually provide in order to be effectively destroyed according to the EPA. So, they may not be as effective as their manufacturers claim.