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Do You Need An Air Purifier?

By Zhiyuan Sun – Jul 14, 2020 at 6:13AM

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Here's how a small investment can save thousands in potential medical costs for people with respiratory allergies.

An air purifier is an electronic device that captures pollutants, irritants, and other particles in the air, and delivers fresh air into the room where it's used. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air is five times more polluted than outdoor air, largely due to the presence of household chemicals, molds, spores, bacteria, allergens, and poor ventilation.  

More than 50 million Americans have respiratory allergies or asthma, and using an air purifier can offer significant relief. The machine can also be beneficial for folks who are immunocompromised or are prone to getting sick.

Pug sitting next to air purifier in cozy white bedroom.

Image Source: Getty Images.

How does an air purifier work?

There are two types of air purifiers: those that are filter-based and those that use an ionic generator (ionziers).

A filter-based air purifier is capable of filtering the unwanted particles via fiber meshes inside the device. Filter-based air purifiers have potential medical benefits due to their no-contact filtration system. Rather than using filters, an ionizer works by binding to air particles via releasing negative ions, causing them to fall to the floor to be vacuumed up. Some ionizers have a electrostatic collection plate to collect the toxins.

How much does an air purifier cost?

Air purifiers typically cost between $200 to $900. Device aside, the cost of replacing filters is about $100 per year, and it could add about $50 to your power bill annually. While this may seem costly, there's a huge economic case to be made for certain people.

The current estimate for medical expenses related to asthma amounts to an average of $3,266 per adult per year in the U.S. Hence, if an air purifier can save thousands of dollars in medical expenses via preventing asthma attacks, then it should make sense to sink in a few hundred dollars for its benefit.

What are the right specifications?

While air ionizers can cost less than a hundred dollars, their medical use is severely limited. First of all, most ionizers do not produce a strong electric field as to efficiently attract particles. Second, particles that stick to furniture, walls, and beds can still cause trouble. Finally, ionizers produce ozone as exhuast. Despite its functionality in blocking out the sun's UV radiation, ozone is a respiratory irritant that can cause damage to the lungs, defeating the purpose of ionizers.

Filter-based air purifiers are the ones that can provide significant relief for people with asthma. For this class of air purifiers, look for its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). CADR represents how much pollen, smoke, and dust in the room can be removed by the air purifier and measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The higher the number, the better, and an air purifier with a CADR of 350 cfm or above is considered superb.

The next metric to evaluate is the purifier's Air Changes per Hour (ACH). ACH measures how many times per hour an air purifier device can exchange the air within a room. Like CADR, the higher the ACH, the better. Most air purifiers have an ACH of between two and five. 

Continuing on, it's vital to find an air purifier equipped with HEPA filters. HEPA filters can block out 99.97% of particulates in the air that are 0.3 μm in diameter.

Additionally, it is important to consider the size of the air purifier regarding the size of the room it is placed in. A small air purifier can clear up to 300 sq. ft of living space, whereas a medium one can clear up to 699 sq. ft, and a large one can clear up to 1,900 sq. ft.

Finally, look for an air purifier with a Blue Energy Star sticker. These purifiers can deliver up to 40% in energy savings compared to their peers. In terms of costs, this class of purifiers can save up to $25 a year in operating costs and over $200 over the product's lifetime. 

Should you buy an air purifier?

Investing a few hundred dollars in an air purifier with the right specifications can save ample amounts of medical costs for people with asthma or respiratory allergies. Asthma-related treatment costs amount to $80 billion a year in the U.S., so getting a tiny device to help minimize your risk of serious respiratory problems can be a smart choice for your health

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