Are air purifiers a good option for improving the air quality in an apartment?


Surely, after reading this text, you can, especially if there is no air exchanger or efficient ventilation system present and if there are few or no windows. Portable air cleaners can be useful in an apartment, but they are not a miracle solution for people with allergies or asthma. It is better to eliminate potential sources of humidity, allergens and dust.

Improve air quality at the source

The most effective strategy to ensure healthy air in the home is toavoid bringing pollutants indoors as much as possible. This means avoiding furniture and items made of MDF (medium density fiberboard) and other types of particleboard that contain formaldehyde. You should also stop using harsh chemical cleaners and room fragrances or air them out immediately after use; these products contain a variety of volatile compounds, many of which have been shown to be harmful.

Air cleaners

Available in different price and efficiency categories, air purifiers must eliminate more than one type of pollutant: pollen, tobacco smoke, mold spores, allergens and dust of all kinds. The way they work is that they draw in air that passes through a series of filters before being released into the room. They are usually equipped with a pre-filter for larger particles, an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter(high efficiency particulate air filter ). Additional systems such as an ionizer or a UV lamp are sometimes also present.

Most appliances on the market are certified by theAssociation of Home Appliance Manufacturers(AHMA). This American organization conducts independent tests on air purifiers so that consumers can compare one model to another, based on the volume of air they can handle and their purified air flow rate. The clean air delivery rate is an efficiency indicator that is measured for smoke, dust and pollen. You should find this information on the packaging of any air purifier.

One of the shortcomings of air purifiers is that they only filter airborne particles, whereas a large portion of indoor pollutants are deposited on surfaces (floors, furniture, etc.) and are only lifted when shaken. It is important to clean your apartment frequently as well. Using an air purifier can help reduce the need to clean your apartment as airborne particles are captured and deposited in the purifier instead of on the floor.

Complementary Strategies

To remove allergens that have settled on surfaces, a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner is best. These vacuums are designed to pick up even fine particles, unlike other vacuums that blow them into the air. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recommends regularly vacuuming rooms with mold problems when it is impossible to solve the problem at the source.

Finally, some plants would have interesting properties in terms of air purification. A study conducted jointly by NASA and an American association of landscapers in the late 1980s attempted to measure the effectiveness of a dozen plants in eliminating three pollutants : benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. The results were promising, but the conditions of the study did not recreate the normal conditions found in a house or apartment.

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