Air purifiers have been in existence longer than anyone you know in the world. They date far back as the 1800s, the industrial revolution period. They were meant to counter the severe air pollution caused by the massive industrialization. By then coal was the only power source but which had many shortcomings such as harmful gas emissions and smoke.
Fast forward to the last decade, and air purifiers have gained so much fame. They have become popular because of the technological advances that they have now gone through.
But just like everything else, air purifiers have come with their fair share of challenges making their benefits questionable.
Whether they are worth buying or not is entirely up to an individual; however, a look at some of the disadvantages may help give you a definite answer.
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Most air purifiers use replaceable filters which is an extra expense every year. Buying the purifier itself is not expensive, but with the replacements, it becomes costly in the long run. Not changing it is not even an idea one should consider to save on cost because it will hinder its functionality. On the other hand, re-useable filters are cheap yes but labor intensive. The constant cleaning is not for everyone. It is also not easy to keep up with the cleaning routine.
When companies advertise their air purifiers, they claim that they work 100%. As if there is anything that can work 100% efficiently. Anyway, those are just marketing gimmicks. Most hardly deliver what they promise. Some air purifiers will only remove smoke, bad odors but fail to remove allergens and microorganism. Like HEPA filters are great for eliminating allergens but ineffective when it comes to bad smells and smoke. No single purifier can get rid of everything.
Also, some purifiers reduce its efficiency with every continued use. For instance, when HEPA filters trap particles over time, they cause build up meaning the filters starts to trap less and less of the particles as it did in the beginning. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), studies have confirmed that the efficiency of filters with permanent electrostatic fields drops significantly as the filters become dirty.
It takes 2-3 years before a replacement of HEPA filter, So build up from all those months can be quite significant and can cause breathing problems if not replaced on time.
Another case of underperformance is with ionizers. They basically work by attaching themselves to contaminants in the air. Once attached, they make the pollutants heavy thus falling down on surfaces. Ideally, you are meant to vacuum and clean your surfaces but at times it may not happen as soon as the contaminant falls down. Therefore the contaminant may be re-released to the air. Also, the fact that it does not clean out the air instead it makes it move from the air to the surfaces where its reachable means that you are physically exposed to the contaminants.
Also, ioners have been found to be ineffective when it comes to removing dust, smoke, fungal pores, and pollen. It is because they cannot produce large amounts of ions to drop the particles to walls and surfaces.
While these emissions may be negligible in an hour, the truth is continued emission in a poorly ventilated room will undoubtedly amount to a high level of ozone emissions.
Ozone is an unstable gas which when it combines with some chemicals in the air they become dangerous to humans as well as animals. While manufacturers claim that they use a safe level of ozone, many researchers differ with them. In their support, ionizers emit ozone gas as a byproduct and so does some electrostatic precipitators. Also, continued exposure of ozone in your house will undoubtedly raise the ozone levels to unsafe levels in time. So yes, at first it is safe but as you continue using it becomes unsafe.
When ozone gas is present in your room, it can cause shortness of breath, chest congestion, coughing. These symptoms are even more severe for people with asthma. It slowly damages your lungs and causes respiratory diseases even to people who were initially healthy. Ozone also weakens the body’s ability to fight off respiratory infections.
Studies show that ozone can damage your home and household stuff. It can make your upholstery and paint deteriorate faster. So you can imagine the damage to your lungs!
Especially for filters like HEPA filters, they can be a breeding area for mold and other bacteria. Once they all collect at the filter, they can multiply and then get released back into the air in the room.
Some people swear by air purifiers. Well and good for them. However, after looking at the above disadvantages. It is safe to say; air purifiers may not be the best option after all even for asthma people. The best option is to go natural.
A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!