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Air Purifiers

Updated on August 28, 2009

Hepa Filter

Example of HEPA Filter.
Example of HEPA Filter.

What is an Air Purifier

Well, an air purifier is a machine that is used to remove contaminants from the air. Air purifiers are generally used for people with allergies, those suffering from asthma, and to help reduce second hand smoke. There are two main types of purifiers: personal and commercial. Obviously, personal air purifiers are smaller and more portable than the large, industrial units. Air purifiers can remove many toxins from the air including: dust, pollen, pet dander, dust mite feces, allergens, mold spores, smoke particles, and other VOC's (volatile organic compounds). It is important to remove these items from the air because scientific research shows that low air quality is linked cancer, respiratory illness, pulmonary infections, and many other severe illnesses.


There are several ways to clean the air in a room, some systems catch the impurities while some destroy them, but each system has its pros and cons.

  1. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) - sterilizes the air by forcing toxins to pass through ultraviolet light. These units generally have fans sucking (or pushing) air through the ultraviolet bulbs to kill the unwanted particles. The downfall to this system is that the particles have to pass between the lights to be destroyed which means it is not practical for a full room purification. This system does; however, work well when put inside air ducts or next to dark and moist places that would attract parasites.
  2. Filtration - this system traps airborne contaminants in a filter. There are several types of filter systems that each have unique benefits and problems.

HEPA - this filter removes at least 99.97% of particles .03 micrometers in size. These filters work on other sized particles as well by trapping them in filter that can be replaced when it becomes dirty. HEPA filters need to be arranged so that no air bypasses the filter. If a room or environment is especially dusty than another easy to clean filter, known as a prefilter, could be placed before the HEPA filter to remove the larger contaminants

Activated Carbon - is a porous material that is used to absorb chemicals on a molecular level. This filter cannot remove large particles from the air and the process of absorbing the harmful materials requires the activated carbon to reach equilibrium; therefore, it is difficult to remove all of the contaminants. This filter changes the airborne toxins into solids, but when aggravated or disturbed these toxins may return to the air. This filter has a history of commercial use because it can work at room temperature. This filter also works well in conjunction with the HEPA filter described above.


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