The Busy Person’s Quick Guide to Air Purifiers

You may perhaps have come across the term ‘air purifiers’ recently and are wondering what exactly they are?  Or maybe you know of someone who has one in their home or workplace and you’re curious about how they work?

This article, while in no way intended to be comprehensive, nevertheless if you are a busy person and need to know the basics it aims to give you a quick heads up by answering the following 4 questions:

What Is An Air Purifier?

Essentially, an air purifier is an electrical device that removes contaminants from the air in a room. It does this by drawing that air in, processing it through a variety of filters and then pumping out clean air back into the room.

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What Kind of Contaminants Does It Remove?

Would you be surprised to learn that air pollution can be up to 5 times worse indoors than it is outside?!

For example, a build-up of moisture indoors can lead to the development of mold and mold spores, while forced-air heating and cooling systems can circulate bacteria and dust particles.

If you share your home with a furry friend or two then pet dander is also a further air pollutant, and of course it’s now common knowledge that smoking releases dangerous toxins into the air.

Other pollutants that an air purifier may help to mitigate against are pollen, dust mites, viruses, organic compounds such as herbicides and pesticides, and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) found in some cleaning products and paints.

An air purifier may also help to eliminate or reduce unpleasant odours, such as those caused by cooking or from pets.

Usually the concentrations of such contaminants in the home or workplace aren’t harmful, although if you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems such as asthma you may find an air purifier beneficial in helping to ease or alleviate your symptoms.

What Types of Filter Does an Air Purifier Use?

Air purifiers use a variety of different filters or filtration aids including:

a pre-filter, to remove larger contaminated particles in the air – mainly dust and dirt that can hang about in the air and end up settling on your furniture. Pre-filters are cheaper to replace and stop the more expensive HEPA filters getting clogged up with larger particles. This extends the HEPA filter’s life and saves you money!

a HEPA filter, to remove fine particles. These are the nasty little particles that a human eye can’t even see such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold and even viruses

a carbon-activated filter, to tackle bad smells and odours and to remove some types of chemicals

an enhanced carbon filter, to absorb a wider range of gases or chemicals including VOC’s

an ioniser (or ion generator), to refresh the air

a UV light, to reduce the presence of microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria.

 What are the Health Benefits For You and Your Family?

There are plenty of health benefits to be gained from better quality indoor air. Unhealthy, contaminated indoor air can contain a variety of particles, bacteria and gases that can cause health issues to you and your family if not addressed. It can even make you more productive!

Although the word “organic” appears in the description Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) don’t let this fool you. These are dangerous chemicals that typically originate from man-made substances such as cleaning products, painting and building products, and are also produced during smoking, cooking and even printing or photocopying.

Theses compounds can cause all manner of short-term health issues including headaches, dizziness, nausea and eye, nose and throat irritation.

High and prolonged exposure may also cause more serious conditions like liver and kidney damage, central nervous system damage and even cancer.


A good air purifier with a HEPA filter is a great starting point in helping limit exposure to indoor contaminants. These can filter out mold spores to stop them spreading, remove pollen from the air and some of the better units can also capture bacteria and viruses.

Hopefully the information above has quickly given you a little more knowledge about air purifiers and whether they’re something you’d want to consider in more detail for your own home or office.

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