How does an Air Purifier Work? Beginners Guide For 2021

An air purifier sounds like a fancy device that is owned for luxury, but that is far from the truth. An air purifier is becoming more of a necessity.

Actually, air purifiers are the solution to reducing the rate of respiratory diseases.

According to WHO, 3 million people die of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease yearly while 235 million people have asthma.

These shocking statistics are as a result of the contaminated air that we breathe.

With air purifier, allergens like mold, pollen, bacteria, smoke, chemical fumes, viruses, and pet dander that can trigger or worsen respiratory diseases are put at bay.

It is impossible to see these allergens with the naked eye, but they do exist in the air. Some signs of contaminated air are stuffiness, a room smelling and feeling damp, the sight of dust mites everywhere, and pungent smells in the room.

If you also sneeze constantly every time you get into a room then it is contaminated and needs to be purified.

Do You Need An Air Purifier?

Yes, you do.  With the current air pollution and environmental degradation its almost becoming impossible to get naturally fresh clean air.


It has been observed that air inside buildings is way more polluted than air outside. At home, for example, we have cooling and heating systems which circulate dust and other particles around the house, pets which shed off dander, kitchen smell, if you have a smoker at home the smoke emitted is full of toxins.

Additionally, pollutants such as pollen and dust can be blown into the house through open windows and doors and not forgetting mold and mold spores caused by moisture in the air.

It is the reason why the inside is more polluted than the outside. With an air purifier, you can, however, get rid of all these.

So many benefits come with investing in an air purifier, whether at home, office, commercial residential or just basically anywhere.

At home, you will need an air purifier if you have family members who have asthma, sinusitis, hay fever or any other respiratory allergies.

The air purifier will clean the air and remove triggers such as radon gas, pollen, dust, smoke, fumes, dry skin cells, and explosive organic compounds.

You will notice that they can breathe better, have fewer asthma attacks and nasal congestions.

If you have a smoker at home, it can help remove second-hand smoke from the air. Second-hand cigarette smoke has been scientifically proven to be a cause of lung cancer.

So imagine being a non-smoker but still ending up with lung cancer all the same.

If you have pets at home, air purifies can remove the air pollution that comes with the pet’s urine, pet odor and dander.

You can control smells in the home such as cooking smells from curry and spicy foods, onions, and vegetables with strong scents such as cabbage, kitchen garbage odors, and smoke.

Such smells can be very irritating and embarrassing especially when you have visitors over.

An air purifier can be used to filter mold spores from the air. Mold can worsen asthma and sinusitis conditions as well as cause other respiratory diseases like pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and COPD.

With an air purifier, your family can have reduced episodes of flu virus which is an airborne disease.

There are air purifiers with UVGI technology that has the ability to kill the bacteria and viruses.

An Air purifier is not a luxury as seen from the above benefits. They are mandatory especially when you have kids, aging parents or family members with respiratory issues.

They will significantly save you the countless trips to hospitals and the medical cost that comes with those trips.

How an Air Purifier Works?

There is no specific way of how an air purifier really works as most use different technologies. We will look at how 4 main air purifiers work to clean the air

  • HEPA Filter
  • Carbon filter
  • Iconic generator
  • Ultra Violet radiation


An air purifier that has a HEPA filter works by drawing air into the filters where contaminants are then trapped. The filters are made to be so dense to trap as tiny particles as possible.

Once trapped the pollutants cannot go back into the air. The HEPA filters have an efficiency rate of 99.97%. These filters are high for people suffering from asthma, sinuses or any other respiratory allergies.

A carbon filter is mainly used if you want a fresh smelling home. It operates by collecting contaminants that create bad smells and odors in your home.

You can purchase a purifier with both a carbon filter and a HEPA filter for a fresh smelling home as well as free from contaminants.

Another type of technology is the ionic generator. It works by releasing ions into the air. The ions then latch onto contaminants making them very heavy to stay in the air.

The heavy contaminants either fall down or get trapped in a collection plate on the device.

The other way that an air purifier works is by using Ultra Violet lighting. This feature is safe to use. The UV lights are emitted from the device to attack and kill any bacteria and viruses in the air. It  is efficient in curbing the spread of airborne diseases.

As you see, air purifiers operate differently depending on what feature it is made of or installed. There are air purifiers that combine some features for maximum efficiency. What product to go for will depend on what features you are looking for.

Types Of Air Purifiers

1. Filters

Some purifiers clean the air by passing air through filters that remove particles leaving the air clean. Most household’s heating or cooling systems have an air filter installed in them between the furnace and the air return duct.

They are meant to protect the operations from the damage that can be caused by dust and dirt as well as remove contaminants from the air. One can also install a filter into the air return vents of each room in the house.


A filter is mainly made of cotton, foam, fiberglass or synthetic fibers. The density of the materials differs but the denser it is, the more particles it can filter. This is because the gaps are super tiny and can filter small particles.

Filters are replaceable which makes them expensive in the long term. They need to be replaced every so often to get the most of their functionality.

The other downside is that they tend to restrict the flow of air through the system lessening the efficiency of the systems.

The good thing is that the filters are washable. So you can wash them in between the replacements.

The most recommended filters are HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) as they meet the standards of the Department of Energy.

They guarantee to trap up to 99.97% of airborne particles that are over 0.3 microns.  The filters can be made of any material as long as they are a size of 0.3 micrometers and a penetration of 0.3 percent of particles.

2. Ionizing Purifiers

These purifiers use the corona discharge methodology to create ions. The concept behind this air purifier is the use of negative ions that are released into the air to attach to contaminants such as dust, mold spores, smoke or dander.

When they attach they become heavy enough to fall down on surfaces and can be vacuumed or even wiped. They also become heavy enough to pass through the filter.

3. Ozone Generators

It works almost the same as the ionizing purifiers only that it works by altering the oxygen molecules into ozone. Ozone is a molecule that is made up of three oxygen atoms.

In the atmosphere, oxygen exists as dioxide (two oxygen atoms). When then particles get exposed to UV light they break down to free oxygen then recombines into dioxide as well as ozone.

Ozone being an unstable gas reacts very readily with anything it comes across such as odors, airborne chemicals, and other contaminants in the air.

By doing so, it eliminates them from the air leaving the air clean. Ozone also has a refreshing scent to it making it ideal for air freshening.

However, there have been health concerns about ozone. Its ability to react with anything makes it disadvantageous as it can react with air chemicals to form poisonous and corrosive compounds.

They have been reports that ozone can kill small animals!

4. Adsorbents

These air purifiers use an adsorption process to trap particles. Adsorption is a process where a substance is trapped in other elements.

In this case, an adsorbent material which is commonly activated charcoal is used to attract dirt particles and other contaminants.

Final Words

Basically, an air purifier cleans your air, leaving it clean, fresh and free from any allergens, bacteria, viruses, dirt, mold, and odors.

With clean air you are guaranteed of better sleep, improved immune system, better breathing with less respiratory and nasal difficulties for people with asthma and sinuses.

Your overall health with definitely improve.  So yes, it’s a necessity worth investing in!

Team Chooserly

A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!

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