Do Air purifiers really work?

Sometimes we wonder about the efficacy of air purifiers and it is normal because it is only right to be concerned about our health. I have read up on air purifiers and have captured some points that reflect the limitations of air purifiers. Stay on to find out more about it ~ 😁

With the findings by some researchers (Brigham et al., 2017), it is certain that air purifiers do improve our air quality and our health to a certain extent:

  1. Reductions in indoor pollutants
  2. Improvement in the health
  3. Prevention in disease progression(decrease in symptoms of respiratory issues and enhancement of heart-related diseases)

Following is a summary of the results established by various researchers on the effects of having air purifiers at home:

(Dalal, Paramesh, Salvi & Vijayan, 2015)

Before we analyze whether air purifiers are indeed efficient, let’s watch this video which shows the common types of air purifiers:

After watching, it is clear that the method of ionization is incapable of absorbing or removing pollutants. Instead, the ions transport pollutants from air to solid surfaces like the ground or wall. After some time, the ions and particles then become loose and resurface into the atmosphere. A blog has also pointed out that ionization has constantly been proven ineffective as odors and particulate matter are often masked rather than being removed permanently. Hence, if some air purifiers claim to be able to remove Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), we shouldn’t easily believe it.

Similarly, for air purifiers that use Ultraviolet rays, though they are effective in killing bacteria, viruses, and germs, they can’t remove particulate matter as many microorganisms have shieldings which help in avoiding the UV rays. Hence, UV filters have to be used with other approaches to increase their effectiveness.

Furthermore, for air purifiers that utilize carbon filters, despite its effectiveness in reducing the pollutants and odors, is it ineffective in eliminating particulate matter and allergens. Thus, carbon filters are commonly used together with a traditional filter(Eg HEPA filter) (Wynd, 2018). 

Lastly, for both Electrostatic filters (Ed, 2019) and HEPA filters, they have limitations in getting rid of odor (Eg cigarette smoke and paints) and VOCs(Eg paints). You may watch this video below if you are interested to know more about what HEPA filters can and can’t do 😄

In general, many particles sit on soft surfaces(Eg furniture) and hard surfaces(walls, carpet), thus the effectiveness of air purifiers in removing or neutralizing the pollutants is decreased (Cherney, 2019). Since now we know that air purifiers are not 100% efficient when we see descriptions that claim that it is 99.5% efficient and could still provide air that is free of bacteria, viruses, and harmful micro air particles, we should be cautious of their words as it contradicts.

Last but not least, as researchers have proven that air purifiers are effective to some extent, we ought to thank those people who innovate on air purifiers to improve our air quality and health. That being said, we could still invest in an air purifier to safeguard our health. However, we should be reminded to wash or replace the filters whenever it gets dirty, to maximize its efficiency, and also save the electricity for using an air purifier with dirty filters (IQAir, n.d.). Besides changing or washing it regularly, we need to note that some filters 一 made of cellulose(cardboard-like) allow molds that produce the allergenic spores to grow 一 increase the risk of allergy. Hence, we need to ensure that the filters we use are made from fiberglass or other synthetic material (Marilia, 2019). 

Let me know what’s your take on the efficacy of air purifiers because I might have missed out on some things on air purifiers. Just drop me a comment below 😊

Your environmental buddy,
Zhi Yong


Brigham, E., Diette, G., Dineen, R., Hansel, N.N., Koehler, K., McCormack, M., Muqueeth, S., O’Keefe, G., Regenold, S., Rice, J., Rule, A. (2017, October 29). The feasibility of an air purifier and secondhand smoke education intervention in homes of inner city pregnant women and infants living with a smoker. Retrieved from

Cherney, K. (2019, December 16). Do Air Purifiers Work? Research, Best Practices, and More. Retrieved from

Dalal, A., Paramesh, H., Salvi, S., & Vijayan, V.  (2015, September). Enhancing indoor air quality -The air filter advantage. Retrieved from

Ed, G. (2019, June 17). Will an Electrostatic Air Filter Keep My House Allergen-Free? Retrieved from

Home Air Guides. (2019, April 10) How Does an Air Purifier Work? (Do Air Cleaners Really Work to Remove Dust, Mold and Allergens?). [Video]. Youtube.

IQAir. (n.d.). Why do I need to replace my HyperHEPA filters? Retrieved from

Marilia, C. (2019, July 09). Do Air Purifiers Really Work? Research Suggests They Have Benefits. Retrieved from

Wirecutter. Everything an Air Purifier Can and Can’t Do (2019, August 3). [Video]. Youtube.

Wynd. (2018, April 3). Air Purifiers: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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