Just like any other necessary household appliance, air purifiers have become one of the most used appliances in numerous homes.
And why not? The quality of air that we breathe in is detrimental, filled with impurities like pollen, dust, smoke, and bacteria. In an attempt to make sure we breathe in air that does not cause irritation or sickness, there’s been a massive surge in air purifier purchases.
With the increasing popularity and use of these purifiers, one prevailing question that comes back in rounds is, “Can air purifiers make you sick?”
If you’ve been having similar thoughts, you’re in the right place.
Can Air Purifiers Make You Sick?
Air purifiers do not make you sick if you place and use them properly.
The sole function and purpose of an air purifier are to clean the air so that potential irritants and allergens do not cause any harm. People who suffer from more serious allergic or asthma conditions are often recommended to have air purifiers in their rooms.
An appliance that is meant to be used to get rid of sickness caused by pollutants in the air, cannot possibly make one sick, right? Surely, but only if the purifier is used, cleaned, and placed correctly.
Most types of air purifiers work by taking in impurity pervaded air, filtering the air through various filters, and delivering clean air by sieving all the allergens out.
Most air purifiers use HEPA filter technology, some use ionizing effects. The latter, however, is not all safe all the time but we’ll come to that as well.
HEPA filters are so effective in cleaning the air that they can filter out particles as small as 0.3 micrometers in size, with an overall cleaning rate of 99.97%. Such purifiers practically save you from getting sick!
Another misconception making people question if air purifiers are safe after all is due to the understanding that purifiers make your air dry causing illness. This is a complete myth. Air purifiers simply clean the air by drawing air in and out of the filters, without contributing to the humidity levels of the air around you.
Let’s look at some of the common complaints people have and whether air purifiers cause them.
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With the correct placement of the air purifiers, headaches caused due to allergens won’t be an issue as the purifiers effectively remove these contaminants that might trigger a headache. This is true of both ionizing and HEPA purifiers. Although ionic purifiers release ozone as a trigger, the amount is so small, there is no chance of causing even mild headaches.
Several people have mistaken their headache to be caused by the air purifiers because they conceive that purifiers remove moisture from the air. We agree that dry air can cause headaches and quite severe ones.
But you’d be relieved to know that air purifiers have no function that requires them to remove any moisture from the air. The misconception arises from the dry feeling on the skin that air purifiers might cause.
Your headache might be related to lack of sleep, stress, caffeine withdrawal, and even the weather outside, but certainly not the air filtering machines.
Air Purifiers clean the air so that cough inducing irritants and allergens cannot make you sick. Coughing, other than viruses, or lung inflammation is most commonly caused by dry air or dusty, smoky air. Having an air purifier takes care of both.
Again, similar to other conditions, the misconception that air purifiers cause the air to dry out makes people believe otherwise. Likewise, heating and cooling systems, the water you drink, and the climate outside are major factors contributing to your coughing.
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This would depend on what kind of air purifier you are using in your room. For HEPA users, having any issues related to the sore throat is out of the question. HEPA filters are known to effectively remove microorganisms and allergens that might cause you to have throat problems.
Such air purifiers are a welcome addition to bedrooms, where you can turn it on all night and wake up without any irritation on the throat.
The story is different if you have an air purifier that uses ionizing technology. These purifiers charge atoms in the air and leave a residue of ozone. However, the small the amount of ozone may be, they can be slightly irritant to your throat, cause throat soreness, itchiness, or other annoyances.
Quite similar to people complaining that their air purifier is causing headache, a nosebleed is another complaint with no wings.
Nose bleeding occurs due to the air being dry. Dry air is a cause of the climate outside and not of the air purifier. When there is no moisture in the air can cause crusting of the nasal membrane, picking on which can cause nose bleeds.
Another reason the air inside your home might be lacking moisture is heaters and coolers, but not the air purifiers.
If someone has concerning conditions that cause their nose to bleed, any appliance that might use the air flow system would trigger a nose bleed. Remember, air purifiers do not draw moisture from the air to make it dry. Similarly, ionizing purifiers are not likely to cause nose bleeds, although they can emit irritants.
How to Use Air Purifiers So They Don’t Make You Sick
Air purifiers will be most efficient at cleaning the air and filtering out the impurities only when used correctly? You might ask, is there supposed to be a “correct” way of using an air purifier? Sure, there is.
For one, remember to keep your appliance turned on during the day and night. Air purifiers are meant to run 24 hours a day on low settings. Turning it off would mean, you allow the outside, pollutant filled air to flood inside your room. This could be particularly harmful if any member of the house or the user of the air purifier has high sensitives.
Ones who have purchased an air purifier recently, the best practice when you begin using the filter is to run the appliance at the highest setting. This is because unfiltered air has high levels of contaminants which would require hours to be cleaned if the purifier is at a low setting. Once you feel the air in your living space is breathable and impurity-free, turn the setting to low.
Another important aspect of using your air purifier the right way so it does not cause you to become sick is to place it on the correct spot. If you sleep or sit close too close to the purifier, you’ll also be breathing in all the allergen packed air the purifier is drawing in.
Cleaning and Replacing Filters
Air purifiers that use filters to sieve out the impurities do so by drawing in polluted air and trapping the contaminant particles, quite literally. Unlike ionizing purifiers that charge and destroy the contaminants, filters need regular checking and cleaning.
If the filters inside your purifier may be blocked completely, this would mean your air purifier would fail to clean the air as efficiently, leaving out floating allergens, smoke, and pollen in the air. The air would feel heavier while making you sick.
To avoid this, if you have a HEPA filter, you may want to physically check the prefilters and carbon filters now and then. Clean the filters at regular intervals and replace them as per instructions from the manufacturers. Few air purifiers come with an indicator that indicates through a flashing light, that it is time to replace the filters.
You can also check the flow of the air by hand to see if the airflow seems too slow. For purifiers that do not have indicators, a manual air flow check can tell you if you need to clean or replace the filters.
For air purifiers using ionizing technology, it is important to check the ionizing rods that trap other particles.
Saying No to Ozone Emitting Purifiers
Air purifiers that use physical filters to clean out air can only make you sick if they haven’t been cleaned and the filters haven’t been replaced. The HEPA purifiers themselves do not emit irritants that can trigger allergies or other conditions. However, what might make you sick are ionizing air purifiers.
In ionizing air purifiers, the ionizing rods work by charging particles and destroying them. The problem arises when a by product of ozone is produced through this filtration process. Ozone gasses are unstable and toxic. Inhaling such gases in large amounts can cause inflammation and trigger allergic reactions.
That’s why it is often advised that you should not place these kinds of purifiers near kids or their rooms. For people who have sensitive senses and respiratory conditions, you have to stay away from ozone producing purifiers. If you are shopping for new purifiers, stay away from products that mention “activated oxygen”
How would you know the air purifier you have bought or the one you already have, delivered the clean air it promises to? Luckily, if you don’t already know, there is a way of telling whether the air purifier is efficient enough and meets all the standards of a working appliance.
If you look for a seal at the back of the packaging, you’ll find an AHAM verified certification. This certification is an official approval by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. This means the association that is sanctioned by ANSI and other official governing bodies has tested the air purifier and approved it for use.
The AHAM verification ensures that the purifier is indeed successful in removing 99.97% of impurities. The verification also allows consumers to know the Clean Air Delivery Rate or CADR. The
CADR ratings are a measurement of the volume of clean air produced by an air purifier. The rating is calculated based on 2/3 of the room size is square feet. Using the CADR ratings and calculations, you can understand what capacity of purifier would be ideal for your room size.
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Cleaning the House
This goes without saying but we think it’s crucial to remind our readers that your air purifier will make you sick regardless of how good and expensive is, if your house or room is not dusted, and cleaned regularly.
If you have pets at home and furry furniture or rugs, cleaning your house is a must. If you have windows in the room and a ceiling fan, make sure you dust the corners, walls, and fans to keep your room squeaky clean. Not doing so would make you sick and cause irritation, sore throat, and headaches.
Air purifiers help us breathe cleaner and better. If you are still asking, “can air purifiers make you sick,” the answer lies in how you are using the purifier. Sometimes it would depend on what kind of purifier you have at home.
Air purifiers using filters are surely a lot safer than ionizing ones and it is best practice to stay away from any appliance that produces unstable ozone gases. Although these produce a negligible amount of these gases, it is always better to be safe than sorry!