Monday, September 28, 2015

Why an Air Purifier Might Be Your Next Home Purchase and How To Choose One (especially if you have allergies or live with bad air quality)

Take a deep breathe.  It is not very often that we stop to think about what we are breathing in, yet we do it over 20,000 times every day.  The reality is that the air we breathe is not always as pure as we would like to think it is.  Usually, the air is full of pollution, fragrances, cleaning products, paints, allergens, dust, pollen, mold spores,  and a long list of other stuff that can actually affect our health and our young children's health in both the short term or long term.

There are various reasons someone might consider buying a portable air purifier at home.
  1. The biggest reason, at a global level, would be if you live in an area where air quality/pollution is an issue.  
  2. If you or someone in your home frequently works  with certain art materials (paints, glazes etc) which give off dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOC's)
  3. Allergy sufferers (seasonal, pets, cigarette smoke etc)

Let's talk about just how serious each reason can be....


A new study published just last week (September 2015) had a scary new statistic: globally, air pollution is responsible for about 3.3 million premature deaths every year, more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

Although in general the areas and populations most affected are in India and China, the United States made it on the list of the 'Top Ranked Countries of premature mortality linked to outdoor air pollution (2010)' , ranking #7 worldwide.

According to the National Resource Council, approximately 64,000 people in the United States die prematurely from heart and lung disease every year due to particulate air pollution -- more people than die each year in car accidents.  

As is the case with all toxic chemicals, children are often more affected due to their small size and developing organs.  Children see a higher incidents of  acute respiratory illness, increased incidence of respiratory symptoms and infections, episodes of longer duration, and lowered lung function resulting from prolonged exposure to air pollutants.


The World Air Quality Index, offers a new interactive map that broadcasts air-quality measurements from around the globe in real time.  This is a great tool that helping us see where in the world air quality is an issue. 

The map color-codes the data according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index scale (green = good; maroon = hazardous) and refreshes every 15 minutes to relay the latest breathing conditions.  This is a great tool because if allows you to compare 'problem locations'  at different times of the week and day.
The map is pretty cool - since we live in Los Angeles I was able to click and see the real time air quality (yellow: moderate on a Sunday afternoon went up to orange: 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' on Monday) from a station that is located not too far away.

The map is clearly still a work in progress, some countries and cities are not included as yet (Central America with the exception of red hot -as in very dangerous pollution levels - San Salvador is mostly missing as well as Africa) but if you happen to live in a city where air quality is a problem this is definitely a great tool to bookmark.


If the air quality in your city reaches level orange or higher (or even yellow if you have young  children with respiratory issues) it might be a good idea to purchase an in home air filter (air filters might also be a good idea for allergy sufferers!) .  More on that at the end of this post below!


If you use cleaning, painting or hobby supplies you are probably exposing yourself to some toxic fumes and VOC's which would be affecting the air quality you breathes.

Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, adhesives, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. They often are compounds of fuels, solvents, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry-cleaning agents commonly used in urban settings.

Products that containing VOCs release the chemicals into the air when they are used and when they are stored. Most often, you would notice an odor when using these products. Most of these products recommend that they should be used in well ventilated areas

Many products contain VOC's- even nail polish and conventional pine cleaners!

Among products that can release higher levels of VOC's into the air you are breathing are: Fuel containers or devices using gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil and products with petroleum distillates: paint thinner, oil-based stains and paint, aerosol or liquid insect pest products, mineral spirits, furniture polishes, PVC cement and primer, various adhesives, contact cement, model cement, Paint stripper, adhesive (glue) removers, Aerosol spray products for some paints, cosmetics, automotive products, leather treatments, pesticides, Upholstered furniture, carpets, plywood, pressed wood products

The National Institute of Health has a longer list of items that contain VOC's

Short-term exposure to high levels of some VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness, nausea, and eye and respiratory irritation. These effects usually go away after the exposure stops. In laboratory animals, long term exposure to high levels of some VOCs has caused cancer and affected the liver, kidney and nervous system.

As always, keep children away from any of these chemicals if they must be used.


  • open windows and allow ventilation of the room you are in
  • switch from conventional cleaners to natural or home made ones
  • consider buying an air filter if you must work constantly with these products (read more below)

My husband is a seasonal allergy sufferer, so I understand how desperate one can be to find help - any relief- when you suffer from allergies. Some people and company's claim that air purifiers help them with allergies (they do, after all, clean the air of allergens) however I did not find any real studies that showed scientific proof.

However many allergists do recommend air purifiers to their patients, as part of a multi step solution to combating allergens.

People who are allergic to pets, but can't bear to get rid of them, or who have neighbors or roommates that smoke might also be interested in air purifiers

If you have decided that an air purifier can help your family, it is important to understand that not all air purifier are created equally. Even some well known brands don't live up to their claims. Air purifiers are not considered medical devices and thus they are not regulated.

 During our 3 years living in Mexico City with a newborn we decided to purchase one, which we still own and use and recommend now that we live in Los Angeles. For this guide I did some research for you guys and found the top air filters

HEPA filter: HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate absorption, and to meet the government standard for this label, the filter must remove 99.97 percent of particles in the air that are 0.3 micrometers or larger. The best rated air purifiers will have HEPA filters.

1. Blueair 403 HepaSilent Air-Purification System

  • The Blueair 403 comes with or without the SmokeStop filter.  The granulated activated carbon in the 403 SmokeStop provides a broader filtration range for little additional expense, so you might want to consider the slight addition in cost.  
  • This it the one we have at home
  • Cleans rooms up to 370 square feet
  • HEPA filtration system: HEPASilent® technology captures 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns
  • super quiet operation at low setting
  • extreme energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR qualified
  • one of the highest Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) on the market, which means it will move air more quickly as it cleans.
  • considered 'stylish': Winner of Excellent Swedish Design award and a permanent spot in Stockholm's National Design Museum
  •  have to switch filters every three-6 months
  • heavy: 43 lbs
  •  one of the top air purifiers in the market, but you do pay for what you are getting:  costly 
2. Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover, 465 Sq Ft, HPA300

  • For us in rooms up to 465 square feet

  • HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air)
  • filter replacement not as expensive as other models (aprox $60 for a three pack)
  • Consumer report gave it a high review in 2015
  • portable, weighs 16 lbs
  • ENERGY STAR qualified.

  • loud
  • filters have to be replaced regularly - every three months
3. Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-780A [White, Odor Remover]

  • For use in 700-815 square feet at normal filtration levels (less square footage at higher filtration levels)
  • slick design: sits flat against any wall or piece of furniture.  Customized panels (with art for adults and children) available.
  • runs absolutely silently
  • comes with a choice of four different filter systems: Pet Allergy, Odors, Toxins or Germ Defense
  •  EnergyStar rating (as low as 7 watts),
  • have both a BioGS HEPA filter traps airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size,  and a Charcoal-Based Activated Carbon Filter* which  reduce chemical and household odors
  • weighs 20 lbs, can stand alone or be mounted on wall
4.  Airocide - NASA Air Purifier for allergies, asthma and chemical sensitive individuals with Odor control 

This relatively new technology for the home was developed by NASA and is FDA approved. It has been available and used by NASA and various large corporations (including, reportedly,  Whole Foods) for about 12 years.  Today,  I would say this is my favorite option due to design, technology and efficiency , although price is steep.   


  • No filters needed. The filtration system, its maker says, was first designed for NASA, to remove ethylene from the space shuttle so astronauts could grow food on long missions.
  • Airocide rids the air of virtually 100% of harmful pathogens by eliminating them completely, including the main allergy triggers: mold, fungi, pollen, dust mites, viruses, bacteria, and VOCs
  • compact size only weighs 9 lbs 


  1. Hi,
    This is a very informative post. This is a very good product. This help us to air cleaned up. They are able to remove bacteria, viruses and any other threatening particles, pretty much all.

  2. Useful guide. Thanks for sharing valuable article. I love a good air purifier, with four indoor dogs and tons of pine trees dripping pollen everywhere, I keep air purifiers in almost every room. My husband and I both have allergies and we find this to be excellent technology for better breathing at home.

  3. Hi Dear,
    I read your post on SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE AIR QUALITY WHERE I LIVE is so nice and the product look like good. I really liked it. Thanks for post good content in your site.

  4. Thank you for such a great article on air purifiers! I have been thinking about adding an air purifier to our home for some time. I appreciate your reviews of several different HEPA filters. As a person who lives in an older home where lead dust can be a possibility, HEPA filters are the only way to go I think.

  5. Hello,

    Indeed a good post, we all know that our health is very important and to be healthy we need to breath in clear and purified air and the best way is the Air Purifier, my grandma became more healthy after I got the top Air Purifier at my home and recently I have purchased another one of the best Air Purifiers to make sure air at my home remains clear and healthy.