These days, it’s pretty easy for indoor air pollution to build up to levels that would trigger an air quality warning if they were found outside. Even something as simple as cooking dinner can pollute your home with harmful gasses and airborne particles that remain in the air long after you’ve finished eating. As buildings become more energy efficient, it gets even easier for indoor air pollution to reach dangerous levels unless you make a conscious effort to protect your home’s air quality.
Air purifiers can be a helpful addition to your indoor air quality toolbelt. Depending on the type of filter used, an air purifier may remove particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold, bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants from the air.
Let’s take a look at the different benefits of air purifiers for your health and home.
1. Remove allergens
Your home is supposed to be your oasis, but it may not feel like much of one when your indoor air is loaded with allergy triggers like pollen, pet dander, dust, and mold spores. One of the top benefits of a quality air purifier is its ability to cut down your household allergen load.
Exposure to airborne allergens can cause symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. If your allergy symptoms get worse at night or around the time you wake up, it’s a good clue that you’re reacting to allergens in your home.
To give your respiratory system a break, place an air purifier in your bedroom, living room, or wherever you spend the most time. Then, turn it on, keep it on, and let it do its thing.
2. Reduce asthma triggers in the air
An air purifier can help you manage the pollution levels in your home and reduce your exposure to pollution that can trigger asthma flare-ups. When you inhale airborne pollutants, they irritate your airways as they travel through your respiratory system, which can trigger your asthma and make breathing difficult.
Exposure to small airborne particles or ozone may worsen asthma symptoms and increase the need for asthma medication. And, childhood exposure to air pollution—both particulate matter and gaseous pollution—may also increase someone’s chance of developing asthma at some point during their life.
Airborne particles can range in size. Some are big enough to spot with the naked eye—like the floating dust particles you see when the sun shines through your window. Others are microscopic. High-efficiency mechanical air filters, like HEPA filters, are rated to remove at least 99.97% of pollen, dust, and other airborne particles 0.3 microns in size. Molekule air purifiers also remove fine particles, but they go even further by destroying organic pollutants using patented Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology.
3. Reduce risk of airborne virus exposure
Viruses like the cold, flu, and COVID-19 can be transmitted through airborne particles and droplets. So, when someone in your home catches a respiratory bug, they can’t help spreading the virus through the air when they cough, sneeze, or even breathe. (Wearing a mask can certainly help, though.) That’s why it’s so common for viral infections to make their way through the entire household—everyone’s breathing the same indoor air, so they’re bound to come into contact with the virus at some point.
Some air purifiers can capture bacteria and viruses, helping remove them from the air as they pass through the filter. HEPA filters have been found to capture particles containing COVID-19. Molekule PECO-Filters remove viruses like coronavirus and flu strains from the air too, but they also inactivate them by up to 99.99% in a single pass. (You can read more about how Molekule destroys airborne viruses here, and keep in mind that no air purifier can totally prevent transmission of a virus.)
4. Less harmful particles
Fine particles can get deep into your lungs and enter your blood like oxygen, where they have access to the rest of your body and can affect almost every biological system. Studies show that exposure to particle pollution can negatively impact heart health, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. Even short-term exposure has been linked with increased blood pressure and inflammation. Lowering your exposure to pollution, especially airborne particles, can help to protect your heart from the effects of bad air quality. Some studies suggest using an air purifier to reduce particle pollution in your home may benefit your heart and lung health, especially if you live in an area with high levels of outdoor air pollution. One double-blind study published in 2018 even found heart health benefits from air purification among residents of a senior facility in as little as three days of use.
Your risk of diabetes depends on many factors, including your exposure to air pollution. In a 2018 study, researchers estimated that, in a single year, 3.2 million new cases of type 2 diabetes were caused by exposure to air pollution.
In a study on long-term exposure to particle pollution, researchers found that exposure to fine particles was associated with an increased risk of diabetes (diabetes risk increased by 39% per 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5). Nonsmokers and people with heart disease or obesity may be the most vulnerable to the effects of pollution on the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Exposure to air pollution has also been linked to cognitive effects in both the short- and long-term, such as difficulty concentrating. These effects have been noticed at pollution levels commonly found in indoor environments.
A 2021 Harvard research study demonstrated the link between air quality and cognitive performance by observing office workers in urban commercial buildings all over the world. When levels of airborne particles (PM2.5) increased and ventilation decreased, participants took longer to answer test questions, and their answers were more likely to be wrong. It didn’t take that much air pollution to cause these effects, either. These studies look at the effects of carbon dioxide, which air purifiers can’t address, but also fine particles, which they can.
5. Freedom from stinky odors
Some bad smells are easy to get rid of, like taking out the trash when it starts to stink. Others can be a little bit more stubborn. Whether you’re having trouble ridding your home of odors from cooking, new furniture, pets, or a stinky carpet, an air purifier may be able to help.
Scent molecules are volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly at room temperature. Then, they exist as a gas in your indoor air, ready to assault your unlucky nose at their first chance. Some air purifiers are equipped to handle volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a type of chemical gas which include most scent-causing molecules.
Activated carbon filters capture chemical gasses through a process called adsorption. As the air passes through the filter, VOCs and harmful gasses get stuck to the activated carbon. With a Molekule air purifier, VOCs come into contact with a light-activated catalyst as they pass through the filter. This catalyst reacts with odor-causing gasses and breaks them down at the molecular level, removing them from the air for good.
6. Less dust buildup
Dust tends to look the same no matter where you find it. If you judged it by its uniform gray color, you’d never suspect it’s made up of a wide range of different particles. Dead skin cells, dirt, mold spores, bacteria, hair fragments, pollen, pet dander, dust mites (living and dead), and even heavy metals like lead can be found in house dust.
When you know what dust is made of, it’s even more annoying to watch it slowly cover the surfaces in your home. An air purifier can help slow the spread of dust by removing particulate matter from the air before it has a chance to settle, so you can spend less time dusting and more time doing something you actually enjoy.
7. Better sleep environment
Few things can ruin a morning faster than a bad night’s sleep, and poor bedroom air quality can make getting quality shuteye feel almost impossible. Dust, pet dander, pollen, or other allergens in your air or on your bedding can cause respiratory irritation that interrupts your sleep with symptoms such as sneezing and nasal congestion. Even if you don’t usually experience allergies, breathing in particle pollution may still cause disrupted or restless sleep.
Putting an air purifier in your bedroom can help reduce your nighttime exposure to airborne particles. Try placing it on your nightstand or dresser, somewhere where the air intake won’t be blocked by walls, furniture, or upholstery. Then, keep the air purifier on all night at the highest setting that won’t disrupt your sleep.
All the benefits of air purifiers boil down to one thing: reducing your exposure to bad air quality. Using an air purifier (or two, or three) to clean the air in your house can be a great way to cut down on indoor air pollution. You’ll have even more success if you combine air purification with other good air quality habits, like regular cleaning, increasing ventilation, and decreasing your use of high-VOC products.