Take deep breaths of clean air.

Interest in air purifiers dramatically increased with the arrival of COVID last year and the fires in California.  Air purifiers have been used primarily by people who have allergies, are worried about smoke or chemicals in their household air, and anyone with asthma or immune system challenges.  Air purifiers can eliminate particles in your indoor air as well as gasses, chemicals from cleaning products and building materials, dust mites, mold and pet dander.  The EPA reports that the concentration of pollutants can be two to five times higher indoors than outdoors.  The best remedy is to replace trapped indoor air with clean outdoor air and portable air filters can help.  Unless you have a whole-home heating and air conditioning system, you will need an air purifier in every room that you are concerned about. The most common rooms for air purifiers are bedrooms.

Tests have shown that air purifiers are good at filtering dust, smoke and pollen from the air.  Using HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters can reduce particles in your air by 50% or more.  What they cannot do is remove allergens once they have settled to the ground.  Larger and thus heavier particles like mites, mold and some pollens settle on the ground so quickly that they can’t be captured by an air purifier in time, but their weight also keeps them from circulating in the air you breathe.

The most popular type of air purifiers are the ones that draw air through HEPA filters to trap and remove particles.  HEPA filters are certified to collect 99% of particles of a certain size (0.3 micrometers in diameter like smoke and paint pigments).  HEPA filters can also remove larger particles like dust, pollen and some mold spores that are still suspended in the air. HEPA filters do not help with gasses or odors.  They need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months and they typically cost between $20.00 – $80.00 each.

What to think about before buying an air purifier:

  • Know where you are going to put it, so you get the right size – Small sized air purifiers are designed for a space or room up to 299 square feet. Medium is for 300-699 square feet areas and large are for 700-1900 square feet areas.
  • Look for a filter that addresses the specific pollutants you are concerned about.
  • Check noise levels (listed in decibels) and find the quietest.
  • Calculate what the ongoing maintenance costs will be.
  • Look for purifiers that are Energy Star-rated by the EPA to save money and conserve energy.
  • Select one that can give you updates on the quality of your air.
  • Select one that alerts you when the filter needs to be changed.
  • Stick with HEPA filter air purifiers – avoid using an ozone producing purifier.
  • Compare CADR (clean air delivery rate) numbers – the larger the CADR number listed on the air purifier, the more particulate matter the filter will remove from the air.

Top seven rated air purifiers:

Coway AP-1512HH Mighty. It will accommodate rooms up to 361 square feet.  It has a 4 stage HEPA filtration system, three fan speeds, a filter replacement indicator.

$195.00

The Coway Airmega 200M and the Coway Mighty, above, are identical in performance, but the 200M has a different appearance. Like the Mighty, it is best in rooms up to 361 square feet.  $210.00

Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is rated highly by Consumer Reports.  It is best for rooms up to 540 square feet.  It weighs 16 pounds, so it is not easy to move from room to room.  It has a filter change indicator light. $299.99

Winix A230 Tower is best for rooms up to 230 square feet.  It has a fine mesh HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. $98.19

Germ Guardian – This air purifier claims to reduce odors with its activated charcoal filter.  It is quiet, and the lowest setting can provide gentle white noise at night. It is best for a room up to 153 square feet. $84.99

Levoit Core 300 is very quiet and has a sleep mode for night.  It is best for smaller rooms, up to 219 square feet.  $99.99

Subscriber Rick S. introduced Ginny to the Medify MA-25 Air Purifier, and she has them in several rooms and loves them.  At 13” tall, they are designed for rooms up to 1,000 Sq. Ft. and they have a high grade of HEPA – H13 Filters (higher rated than True HEPA) 99.9% particle removal.  It is easy to change filters. They come in white or black.  Medify MA-25 Air Purifier with H13 HEPA filter, $160.

If you want clean air for someone susceptible to airborne irritants or has a compromised immune system, IQ Air makes the HealthPro Series of air purifiers which claim to remove ultrafine particles from the air.

From IQ Air, “Ultrafine particles are smaller than 0.1 microns, make up about 90% of all airborne particles, and have been linked to heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and even cancer. IQAir’s HyperHEPA filtration in the HealthPro Series is proven and certified to filter at least 99.5% of all particles down to 0.003 microns – the smallest particles that exist.”

When the fires around San Francisco caused dangerous, smokey air,  the IQ HealthPro Plus became the most recommended ‘go to’ air filter for young families seeking to protect their children.  Purchasing an IO HealthPro Plus is more like investing in an appliance than buying a room air filter, but it claims to filter out ultrafine particles, gasses, chemicals and odors.

The IQHealthPro Plus is H 28” x W 15” x D 16”, and weighs 35 pounds. It is expensive, $899.  The replacement filters are also expensive (but the filters should last 18 months).

IQ Offers an award winning, portable personal air filter called the ATEM.  It is silent and does not blow air on you.  It comes in black and white.  ATEM Personal Air Purifier, $399.

See the ASE article on plants that purify our indoor air.