What to Look for When Buying an Air Purifier to Help with Your Allergies
Suffering from seasonal allergies? An air purifier might be the simple solution you're looking for.
Despite being a gadget geek, I've never been able to get behind the high price tag of an air purifier-until, seemingly out of nowhere, I developed a full-blown case of seasonal allergies, complete with watery eyes and a runny nose. Although there are plenty of OTC and prescription meds, I finally figured it might be time to splurge on an air purifier to mitigate, tame, or even get rid of some of my seasonal allergies. (Related: Can Taking Probiotics Help with Seasonal Allergies?)
But as I learned, air purifiers are not one-size-fits-all, and they're actually quite complex. Here, experts weigh in on what air purifiers can really do-and if they can bust allergies, seasonal or otherwise.
Air Purifier Basics
While going inside may seem like the smart idea if you're plagued with pollen, tree, or ragweed allergies, it turns out the air in your home may actually be twice as polluted due to additional factors like dust, mold, pet dander, and chemicals that accumulate over time. Fun!
"Air purifiers help to remove allergens, pollution, dust, and dirt that may be present in the air," says Dendy Engelman, M.D. "Still, it's impossible that any single purifier can capture all allergens and all irritants, including seasonal ones such as pollen and grass along with pet dander, indoor pollution, and dust. Some things like dust mites might only be in the air for 20 to 30 minutes, but if something floats around for hours-like mold-you want an air purifier on to trap it." (Check out these nine natural allergy relief ideas that require zero medication.)
How to Find the Right Air Purifier for You
First off, experts agree you should avoid ionic air purifiers. "Ionic air purifiers generate ozone, which is a toxic substance," says Dr. Engelman.
Look for a HEPA-certified filter instead. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. In order to qualify as HEPA by industry standards, an air filter must remove 99.97 percent of particles that have a size greater-than-or-equal-to 0.3 micrometers from the air that passes through.
Dr. Engelman says HEPA filters are great for those with mild to moderate allergies looking for an indoor respite, but to keep in mind that its help is essentially nullified if you go back outside.
If you're suffering from severe seasonal allergies or any kind of airborne-related allergens to a serious extent, it may be worth shelling out the $800 for the latest air purifier on the market, the Molekule. Instead of having the industry-wide HEPA filter, the creators of Molekule used a new one, known as a PECO filter. PECO, which stands for photoelectrochemical oxidation, works at the molecular level to eliminate all airborne pollutants and irritants, grabbing smaller particles that a HEPA filter would miss.
According to Nikhil G. Rao, M.D., who compiled the initial research for Molekule, the PECO filter is particularly effective for those who need immediate relief from more severe allergens. After studying a small sample of 28 subjects, Dr. Rao and his team found that allergy symptoms dropped to normal or below-normal rates within a week of using the PECO filtration system. Just make sure to replace the filter as often as the manufacturer suggests, usually every six months to two years.
While you're not going to be freed completely of the beast that is seasonal allergies, an air purifier can help mitigate your symptoms, especially if you choose the proper filtration for your needs.