what is an air purifier

What is an air purifier?

An air purifier is an appliance that reduces the concentration of airborne contaminants in a designated area. It cleans indoor air. This helps people who suffer from allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivity and other respiratory related symptoms to breathe easier.

What kind do I need?

The type of air purifier you need depends on the size of the area or room where the machine will be placed. It also depends on what you are trying to remove from the air in that area.

What is an air cleaner?

An “air cleaner” is another word for an “air purifier”. Both are designed to remove indoor air pollutants and particulates. When these types of appliances were first used, they were called air cleaners. Now with advances in technology they are referred to as air purifiers.

How do they work?

The portable air purifiers we hire are designed to clean a specific size room.  These machines are the least expensive way to significantly reduce indoor air pollution.

Portable room air purifier machines are typically categorized based on their cleaning technology:

  • HEPA filtration
  • Electrostatic precipitation
  • Negative ion generation

Some brands use a combination of these technologies. There are also air purifiers which are designed just for chemical removal. In addition to airborne particles some air purifiers can also remove

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • fungi
  • volatile organic compounds
  • odors
  • some gaseous chemicals

Activated carbon blends and a variety of other substances may be used to capture gases and odors. Ultra-violet light is sometimes used.

HEPA Filtration

An air purifier uses fine sieves that filter particles from the air circulating in a room. As air flows into the machine, the finer the sieve used, the smaller the particles it traps. This even includes microscopic particles. Depending on the technology used, some air purifier models can also trap gases and odours.  Different technologies have been developed over the years. Microns are the standard unit used by scientists to measure particles in the air. This standard unit of measurement is also used by the manufacturers of air purifier products. Typically an air purifier will have one or more “air filters” within them in which the pollutants are trapped.

For many years, HEPA filters have been used to filter particles. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are well proven filtration devices. The benchmark for air filters, HEPA filtration guarantees the air purifier will trap 99.97% of particles larger than 0.3 microns. The human eye can’t see a particle smaller than 10 microns so many of the particulates captured cannot be seen, particularly bacteria and viruses. The filters found on room air conditioner models capture only large particles greater than 10 microns. For the smaller particles like dust, smoke, chemicals, pollens, asbestos, etc, HEPA filtration is needed in an air purifier.

How The Filter Works

The HEPA filtration component is essentially an accordion of very, very fine paper-like filter material. The material is loaded in an accordion or zig-zag fashion so that a very large surface area becomes available for air to be pushed through by the air purifier fan. Over time, the HEPA filter will become full and the air flow will no longer be able to move through the filter. When this happens the used filter needs to be removed and a new one installed.  HEPA filters typically last a number of years in an air purifier.

The more times the air in a room passes through an air purifier with HEPA filtration, the cleaner the air will become. For the air purifier to be effective it is important that it have the cleaning capacity for the size room in which it will be used. The specifications on the product will indicate what size room it is designed to clean.

 Why do we need an air purifier?

It has been proven time and time again that indoor air is often dramatically more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air pollution comes from a variety of sources. These can be

  • pets
  • plants
  • mould spores
  • fungi spores
  • house dust mites
  • chemicals used in grooming and cleaning
  • off-gassing of carpets furniture, and upholstery
  • pollen

The list of things that make indoor air unhealthy to breathe, especially for babies, children, and the elderly is long and growing. The reasons are yet to be determined, but in recent years there has been a dramatic rise  of people reporting the onset of seasonal allergies for the first time.

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