Six benefits of an air purifier

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From ridding your home of pollutants to improving symptoms of asthma, there are lots of benefits of an air purifier that make these handy machines worth investing in.

Knowing the air quality index for your local area can help you to understand how much of a problem air quality is where you live, as can recognising the symptoms of poor air quality, including irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, as well as headaches and fatigue. If you feel having cleaner air within your home would benefit you, our guide to the best air purifiers rounds up our top picks. 

Zeinab Ardeshir, community pharmacist and Co-founder of PillSorted, also tells Live Science: "Improving indoor air quality greatly impacts our quality of life as more than 90% of modern life is spent indoors. Better quality of air indoors reduces the risk of transmission of pathogens and improves allergy symptoms and breathing conditions. An air purifier works by filtering the air through microscopic filters and trapping the allergens.”

Read on to discover more air purifier benefits.

1. They lighten allergen load in the air

As (HEPA) filters are capable of dealing with 99.97% of air pollutants from 0.3 microns in size, air purifiers can be helpful in controlling environmental triggers for those who suffer from allergies. 

A controlled study in the Yonsei Medical Journal found that air purifiers significantly reduced medication use in those who struggled with respiratory symptoms caused by their allergies. Keeping an air purifier in the room you sleep in or work in can be really helpful if you have allergies or hay fever, as it will keep the allergen load in the air as low as possible, therefore reducing your symptoms. Just remember that most air purifiers have a limit to the size of room they work best in, so they may not be as effective in rooms with high foot traffic or large drafty rooms.

Check our guide on best air purifiers for allergies to find the one that suits you best!

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2. They may filter harmful chemicals

A 2015 review paper in Frontiers in Environmental Science found that our homes can be full of indoor contaminants, and often, outdoor pollutants end up inside, particularly if you live in a heavily populated area. This causes further potential irritation. 

Another study in Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that living in highly air polluted areas, such as near a main road or airport, has been linked to the worsening of respiratory problems and infectious diseases. An air purifier can help to deal with a number of indoor air pollutants, as it works by cycling polluted air through multiple filters and releasing clean air back into the room. If you use chemical cleaners or have appliances in your home that release ozone or other contaminants, an air purifier may help to reduce the amount of these pollutants that you breathe in.

3. They may help with dust and pet dander

Do air purifiers help with dust? Good news – they absolutely can. Dust, microbial contaminants like mold spores or airborne bacteria, tobacco smoke, pesticides, disinfectants, pet hair and dander all have the potential to irritate our respiratory systems. Dust and dust mite allergies are also a leading trigger for asthma attacks, a review in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found, which encourages avoidance as the best course of action when attempting to limit symptoms.

Our furry friends are also culprits, with pet dander being another one of the main triggers for many people with asthma and allergies, according to a study in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings. Most dust particles are 5 microns or less in size, which is well within the scope of a HEPA filter to trap and filter out. The majority of pet dander is even smaller, coming in at around 2.5 microns in size, but again, this is well within the capabilities of a HEPA filter to deal with. 

Dog with owner on the sofa.

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4. They help remove mold spores from the air

The airborne ‘seeds’ that mold fungi produce in order to spread, known as spores, can be captured by air purifiers. Research in Plos Pathogens suggests that mold spores can be as tiny as four microns, which means that having an air purifier with HEPA filters in your home should reduce the amount of mold spores in the air. 

If you are also effectively tackling the source of mold, an air purification system may be able to help keep more mold from occurring in your home by trapping the spores before they land and develop into more mold. 

Read more about how air purifiers help with mold for an in-depth look at keeping mold at bay.

5. They may relieve symptoms of asthma

Airborne contaminants such as smoke, pollen and dust can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal, particularly in children. If you experience asthma symptoms, an air purifier may help you to manage the air quality in your home so that you can limit your exposure to these contaminants. 

It’s worth noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends avoiding air filters that produce ozone, as this is a lung irritant and can worsen symptoms of asthma.   

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6. They may reduce airborne disease

Do HEPA filters remove viruses? According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases they certainly do. Researchers found that by running a HEPA filter in a Covid ward, airborne SARS-CoV-2 was greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Evidence of the virus was detected before and after using the air filter, but not during. 

“According to recent research conducted by Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge, use of HEPA filter air filtration machines removed almost all traces of airborne SARS-CoV-2 on the Covid wards as well significantly reducing the levels of bacterial, fungal and other viral bioaerosols,” Ardeshir told Live Science. But whilst an air purifier may reduce your risk of developing airborne infectious diseases, they won’t completely prevent it. 

Ardeshir also adds that whilst an air purifier is a helpful tool, other steps need to be taken to keep your indoor air clean. “To improve indoor air quality at home, a house needs to be well ventilated in order for an air purifier to work properly,” she says. “Keeping the indoor environment well ventilated, keeping the doors and windows shut during hay fever season and regularly vacuuming with a HEPA filter, are more important steps in improving the air quality at home.”

Lou Mudge
Health Writer

Lou Mudge is a health writer based in Bath, United Kingdom for Future PLC. She holds an undergraduate degree in creative writing from Bath Spa University, and her work has appeared in Live Science, Tom's Guide, Fit & Well, Coach, T3, and Tech Radar, among others. She regularly writes about health and fitness-related topics such as air quality, gut health, diet and nutrition and the impacts these things have on our lives. 

She has worked for the University of Bath on a chemistry research project and produced a short book in collaboration with the department of education at Bath Spa University.