Allergy & Air on September 14, 2015 2 Comments While air purifiers and air cleaners may appear to be two separate products, in actuality they are essentially the same thing. There are, however, purifier and cleaner differences within this overlapping category. In addition to the purifiers and cleaners themselves, there are also a variety of filters that can be used with certain models. Finding the correct combination can be difficult, but doing research and speaking with others can help you make an informed decision. Purifiers and cleaners can help keep your indoor air clean. While houses used to be much less sealed from the outdoors, with increased construction, houses are becoming more self-contained, which makes indoor air less pure. Purifiers and cleaners help rid homes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from products like carpets, paint and disinfectants. However, the most common use of these cleaners is to rid the home of airborne particles like mold, pet dander and dust mites. If you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies, a purifier or cleaner can be extremely helpful. Below are types of cleaners, purifiers and filters that can be used in varying combinations. 1. Portable Air Purifiers Also called room air purifiers, portable air purifiers clean only one room. If your home doesn’t have forced air through a heating or cooling system, this will be your only option. However, these purifiers do work well, and they’re less expensive than whole-house options. They are generally between only 10 to 20 pounds and can be moved easily. If you get a purifier with a HEPA (high-efficiency particle arrestance) filter, you have a better chance of success, as they remove 99.97% of particles that are less than 0.3 micrometers. 2. Whole-House Air Purifiers and Cleaners This option is more expensive and needs to be installed by a professional. It attaches to the inner workings of your heating or cooling system and possibly connected to an electrical system. They don’t do as thorough of a job as a room cleaner, but they do clean a larger area. Whole-house purifiers and cleaners are a great option for anyone with severe allergies. 3. Whole-House Air Filter This is a less expensive option than the whole-house air purifier. These filters are attached to furnaces as a replacement to the original filter. Therefore, they are extremely easy to use and don’t require installation from a professional. The whole-house air cleaner works by filtering the returning air and trapping particles. However, they don’t clean the air as thoroughly as the other options. 4. Ion and Ozone Generators Ion and ozone generators work for a single room as opposed to a whole house. Unlike other options, the impurities cling to the surfaces of the room instead of dissipating. They can help reduce some allergies from mold, dust, pollen and smoke. These generators produce ozone as a byproduct, and therefore buyers should proceed with caution, as the ozone can be hazardous to health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency put out a report that the federal government hasn’t approved these generators. 5. HEPA Filters A HEPA filter is the most popular type of filter because it removes at least 99.97% of air particles through pulling the air into its fine mesh. These filters are built under strict standards and were originally made for pulling radioactive airborne dust particles. HEPA filters can be used with most cleaners and purifiers, and they can also be used with certain vacuum cleaners. 6. Activated Carbon Filters Activated carbon filters are often used with HEPA or other filters, and they pull impurities from the air through absorption. The oxygen in these filters creates openings to pull odors, gases and vapors. Those that contain the chemical chemisorbent can also pull VOCs. Activated carbon filters can be very effective in conjunction with other filters, as not all filters pull odors and gases along with the particles. 7. Electrostatic Precipitators Electrostatic precipitators remove impurities in the same manner as ion and ozone generators. However, they also filter impurities instead of just making them cling to a room’s surfaces. The particles are collected on a metal plate that can be cleaned. The disadvantage with electrostatic precipitators is that they produce ozone just like the generators. This can cause respiratory problems in anyone with a predisposition, as they can irritate the lungs. 8. Charged Media Filters Charged media filters also produce ozone, so they may not be the best option for anyone with respiratory issues. These filters use a similar process as electrostatic precipitators, except that they use filters instead of plates, so the filters will need to be replaced periodically. However, they are known for trapping microscopic particles. 9. Pre-Filters Pre-filters work in conjunction with HEPA or other filters as a way to block large particles from coming in contact with sensitive units. They are generally made out of nylon or foam and can be washed repeatedly. Therefore, these can be a good investment as they will make your primary filter last longer. 10. Antibacterial and Germicidal Filters No matter the purifier and cleaner differences, it can be extremely helpful to have an antibacterial or germicidal filter. These sometimes use UV rays to eliminate germs and bacteria, and they can be used alone or the features can be used with a HEPA filter. In addition to using an air purifier or cleaner, there are other methods you’ll want to take in order to keep your home as free of contaminants as possible. These include: Regular vacuuming Replacing carpets with other types of flooring Use roll up shades or blinds instead of drapes Keep pets outdoors or off furniture if you’re allergic Keep bedding clean by washing sheets often Keep areas free of dust and clutter Purifier and cleaner differences depend largely on which type of purifier or cleaner you choose to purchase. While the options can seem overwhelming, investing the time and energy into choosing the right one can greatly help your overall health or the health of a loved one. Allergies are becoming increasingly common, and they can create a very unpleasant daily experience. In addition, keeping the air inside your home clean can help keep you feeling your best.