In Atlanta, GA, the winters are mild, leading to an extended allergy season. You may have heard how air purifiers trap allergens and circulate clean air in a home. You may wonder if an air purifier can help alleviate your allergy symptoms. Here are a few factors that will affect how using an air filter may help combat allergies.
How Do Air Purifiers Remove Allergens From the Air?
Air purifiers utilize various mechanisms to remove contaminants from the air. Some purifiers pass air through filters that capture particles. These filters are typically made from materials, like cotton, foam, synthetic fibers or fiberglass. Filters with denser material limit the size of particles that can pass through, making them more effective. With their increased surface area, pleated filters can provide improved air purification by capturing more particles.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are capable of removing up to 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 µm in size or larger. Another newer technology for home purifiers is ULPA (ultra-low penetration air) filters, which can block up to 99.9% of particles as small as 0.12 µm. However, the downside is that ULPA filters restrict airflow more significantly, resulting in a lower volume of air that gets cleaned compared to HEPA filters.
Ionizing purifiers use corona discharge, which is a method that effectively traps allergens by changing the charge of particles in the air. Most particles in the air have a neutral charge, with equal numbers of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. When particles pass through the corona discharge, they can gain an extra electron, giving them a negative charge, or lose an electron, giving them a positive charge. This ionization process causes particles in the air to be attracted to surfaces with opposite charges, such as the two metal plates inside the purifier. One has a positive charge, and the other has a negative charge. Additionally, particles in the air with opposite charges are drawn to each other, making them heavier and eventually causing them to drop from the air.
Ultraviolet radiation is used to sterilize certain microorganisms. This can eliminate the harm of airborne viruses and bacteria in some cases.
Effectiveness at Eliminating Common Causes of Allergies From the Air
An air purifier can remove airborne contaminants that cause allergy symptoms, including smoke, pet dander and dust. You can greatly improve indoor air quality in a single area with a portable air purifier. A whole-house unit is even more effective at purifying the air throughout your home. However, keep in mind that no matter how good an air purifier you buy, no model can eliminate all pollutants in your home.
Consider its CADR (clean air delivery rate) rating when choosing an air filter. This metric measures the performance of residential air purifiers in terms of the amount of air cleaned per minute based on particle size. Smoke is considered a small particle, pollen a medium particle and dust a large particle. A higher CADR indicates a better ability to trap particles.
Another important metric to consider is the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating, which indicates how effective an air purifier is at removing allergens from the air. Most residential air purifiers have a MERV rating between seven and 12, with higher numbers indicating greater effectiveness at removing allergens.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not pet hair that causes allergy symptoms for most people. The protein allergen CAN F1, in dogs, and FEL D1, in cats, produced by their body fluids causes allergy symptoms. When a pet grooms itself, allergens are distributed in the fur and skin. Pet dander is released into the air, on the carpet, furniture and other surfaces. When an allergy sufferer breathes in these proteins, their allergy symptoms activate.
Most pet allergens are around 2.5 µm in size, but they can be smaller. You need an air purifier that will filter or trap particles that small to be effective.
Pollen is also a major cause of allergy symptoms. Air purifiers can help with pollen allergies by removing pollen from the air you breathe. Air purifiers that combine multiple filter stages are often the most effective against pollen. Filters that use ionization not only activate certain airborne contaminants but also cause pollen, dust and dander particles to be drawn to each other, making them too heavy to keep floating.
Air purifiers can capture mold spores that are in the air, hindering their ability to reproduce and spread in your home. It is important to remember that air purifiers are not designed to treat active mold that is already present on surfaces in your home. However, if you are concerned about potential mold issues, an air purifier can help capture mold spores that enter your home, preventing them from landing on surfaces and potentially causing problems. In a home where mold is already a problem, using an air purifier in conjunction with surface treatment can help prevent mold spores from spreading to other areas, reducing allergens in the air.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, burn candles or cook meals that create smoke in your oven, these can lead to allergy symptoms. Some air purifiers can effectively remove smoke from the air, although it may not be an immediate process.
A HEPA filter is effective at trapping airborne ash and minimizing the smell of smoke in your home. However, if you are specifically looking to reduce smoke allergens in the air, you will need an air purifier with an activated carbon filter.
Activated charcoal is the main ingredient in these filters, allowing the air purifier to absorb not only smoky smells but also volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that can be harmful to breathe. The best results for eliminating smoke allergens from the air are achieved when the air purifier has a combination of activated carbon filters along with other filters, such as HEPA filters. It is also recommended that the purifier has a CADR (clean air delivery rate) that is equal to or exceeds two-thirds of the room’s square footage.
Getting the Right-Sized Air Purifier For Allergen Removal
Air purifiers are categorized based on the size of the room they can effectively purify. If your air purifier is too small for the room you are using it in, it won’t be effective.
There are numerous advantages to using a whole-house air purifier for allergen removal. They provide purification without boundaries and eliminate the need for multiple air purifiers scattered around the house, making them a convenient option.
Atlanta’s Trusted HVAC Experts
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