Statistics have it that each year, an estimated 1.6 million premature deaths occur as a result of indoor air pollution. While most of these cases can be attributed to cooking using solid fuel sources like firewood, dung, and crop waste among poor households, many other sources of indoor air pollution exist in modern homes. In addition to smoke, dust, dust mites, pollen, pet hair, mold, and mildew, from various parts around the home are known to trigger respiratory allergies, worsen asthma symptoms and cause hay fever. This is why many households (especially those with a family member suffering from respiratory allergies) invest in air cleaning and purification systems. On this note, the air filter and air purifier are the two most common options available for homeowners. But which one between the two should you invest in when looking to improve indoor health?
Well, starting with their definitions, this article seeks to help you understand the differences between air filters and purifiers so you can decide which one is better for a cleaner and healthier home.
1. Air Filters
By simple definition, an air filter is a unit that does what the name suggests… it filters air! The unit contains a mesh-like surface that sieves particles such as dust, dust mites, mold spores, and allergens from the air as it passes through. Also known as air cleaners, there are various types of air filters on the market. In the article “Air Filters vs Air Purifiers” from Filter Buy, the author points out that activated carbon filters, fiberglass filters, HEPA filters, and washable filters are among the most common types of air filters on the market today. This is largely based on the technology they use.
In most cases, air filters work hand in hand with the HVAC system to trap contaminant particles as air is drawn into your home by the HVAC unit. Strategically located in between the furnace/AC and the air return duct, the unit ensures that the air flowing into your home from the outside is clean.
The ups and downs
One major upside of an air cleaner is that it ensures indoor air is free from larger particles like dust and pet dander.
The downside, however, is that some air cleaners can be particularly noisy and may replacement of filters may be a bit expensive.
2. Air Purifiers
As you can tell from the name, an air purifier sanitizes or purifies the air coming into your home. This means that it gets rid of bacteria, mold, certain viruses, and fungi. In other words, the unit is designed to get rid of things that may make you sick and not necessarily cause allergies. By so doing, the unit goes a notch higher in improving the quality of air inside your home. However, some air purifiers may have the capacity to sieve allergen particles from the air as well, but these often have a filter of some sort.
From standalone systems to units installed in HVAC ductwork, there’s a wide range of air purifiers depending on the air purification mechanisms they use. Some common types of air purifiers include Ionizing purifiers, Adsorbent purifiers, and UV light purifiers, which use Ionic or Electrostatic capabilities, ozone generator, and UV sterilization mechanisms to neutralize microorganisms.
The ups and downs of air purifiers
Just like air filters, air purifiers have their fair share of pros and cons.
On the Brightside, the biggest advantage of air purifiers is that they eliminate airborne pathogens that may cause illness and allergies. Also, a majority of air cleaners provide quiet operation and compared to an air cleaner, an air purifier is less expensive to operate and maintain.
On the other hand, very few air purifiers are capable of removing dust and particulate contaminants from the air. Additionally, some possess a risk of ozone and UV emissions. Unless air circulation is really good, an air purifier’s ability may be limited to only a portion of the room.
PConsidering the above pros and cons of each of the two alternatives, two facts are evident. One; both of them are incredibly vital in improving the quality of air inside our homes. Two; combining air filtration and air purification can be a great way to ensure that you and your family breathe in clean air that is free from allergens and pathogens. This also means that while an air filter can be used on its own, it’s better to look for an air purification device that also has purifier capabilities… one that combines both technologies. To add to that, it’s important to be keen on the features of the unit you purchase because some companies use the terms “air cleaner” and “air purifier” interchangeably.