What we think of as the common allergic reaction occurs when our immune systems overreact to a particular trigger, such as dust, pollen, or animal fur. Research indicates that the number of people suffering from allergies is rising.
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) states that an allergy is the most common chronic condition in Europe, with up to 20% of people with allergies suffering from a severe form of allergy. They live with the possibility of an asthma attack, an allergic reaction, or going into anaphylactic shock on a daily basis.
Of the 10 most common causes of allergies, five can be found in the average household:
We breathe in these air pollutants daily, although we’re not always aware of them. Airborne particles hang in the air and circulate around the home unless there is excellent ventilation. But that can be difficult to achieve when the weather is cold, wet and windy.
So, what can you do to help clean the air in your home or office? One solution is air purifiers – let’s take a closer look at how air purifiers help with allergies.
Air purifiers are designed to freshen the air in a home by drawing in the air and its airborne particles that cause allergies, cleaning the air by pushing it through a filtration system, and releasing it to recirculate.
The particles from the air, such as pollen, dust mites, mould, and pet dander go into a mechanical filter where they become trapped. The important element in many air purifiers is the true HEPA filter, which was developed by scientists working on the Manhattan Project as a way of removing tiny radioactive particles. Over the years, the true HEPA filter has become commercially viable in air purifiers.
True HEPA filters – HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air – are designed and rated to trap dust particles that are as small as 0.3 microns at an efficiency of 99.97%. Used daily, an air purifier can significantly reduce the level of dust mites and other airborne particles that cause allergy symptoms.
Air purifier filters are generally made from a fibreglass mesh with holes small enough to trap dust particles the purifier draws in, before pushing out the clean air. The filters must be replaced regularly as they will clog up with particles and become ineffective over time.
The HEPA filters are made of very fine fibreglass threads that are pleated in sheets and sealed in a frame. Larger particles are trapped almost as soon as they hit the filter. Smaller dust particles might pass through the larger holes but the ultra-small holes will stop tiny particles.
Some air purifiers incorporate filters that you can gently wash with a mild soapy solution and then reuse. Other models feature activated carbon filters that absorb further air pollutants that cause allergy symptoms, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are often found in household cleaning products.
The size of the air purifier and the area it is able to purify will largely determine where you put your air purifier for allergies. For example, if your allergies and asthma symptoms are at their worst in the living room, which is generally the largest room in the home, you will need an air purifier with a high efficiency to clean the air in that room. The fan speeds of air purifiers will have an impact on how much air it can clean and push back out to circulate through the room.
The best way to determine which type of air purifier is best for allergies is to calculate the CADR (clean air delivery rate). This measurement was developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), to report the amount of air a filtration system can remove and clean in an hour.
A higher CADR means the air purifier is quicker and more effective. Make sure the air purifier has certified performance against allergen particles provoking allergy and asthma.
Another factor to consider is where to place the air purifier in the room. It is generally recommended to place it near an open space, such as a door or window, because:
Always keep the vents on the air purifier clear of any blockages. Avoid putting them in corners or against walls, and make sure there is plenty of space around them so they can work at high efficiency.
Air purifiers for allergies don’t usually work as well in bathrooms or kitchens because these rooms are often more humid, which means the air purifier will be less efficient. In these areas, you may want to consider getting a dehumidifier to work alongside your air purifier or improve ventilation.
In many commercial buildings, air purifiers are incorporated into built-in air conditioning systems, but there is also a range of portable air purifiers available. Some of these are small enough to place on a table.
While air purifiers for allergies won’t remove 100% of the airborne particles from a home or home office, they will go a long way to removing most of the allergy-causing airborne particles.
As well as using air purifiers for allergies, there are a variety of other ways to reduce allergens in the air:
The above measures can all be used in conjunction with air purifiers for allergies to help reduce the effects of allergens significantly.