Last edit: 10/05/15

Allergy Air Purifier

Many people know that for relief of allergy an air purifier should remove airborne allergens.

However, each category of airborne allergy trigger can respond differently to air purification technologies.

Since allergies can progress to other conditions such as asthma, they should be taken seriously.

There is often a cumulative effect in the development of allergy, with symptoms, and sensitization, increasing after each successive allergen exposure.

A reduction in immune system "load factor", a cleaner environment, is one tool to fight the slide.

An air purification strategy, not just an air purifier, can be a partial implementation of this tool.

Discussion of other aspects of allergy are beyond the scope of an air purifier website.

There are many other factors in our lives besides cleaner indoor air quality which are relevant.

Many make the mistake of believing an air purifier is an allergy cure.

Airborne allergy relief with an air purifier is only one step among many.

Allergy authorities generally agree that the avoidance of triggers is the best solution for allergy.

By reducing your exposure to allergens and toxins, air purifiers can make long term progress a possibility.

However, strengthening your immune system takes time and study, please don't install a purifier and believe the job is done.

Airborne allergens are only part of the cause. Sufferers may be allergic to one, or more than one, airborne trigger.

Air purifiers can reduce particulates; mold spores, dust, dust mite proteins, pollens, pet dander, and dust.

Each allergen requires a slightly different air purifier for air borne trigger reduction.

Air Cleaner for Pet Allergy

Approximately two percent of the U.S. population, between six and ten million people, is allergic to cats.

One third of these insist on keeping kitty, despite prodding from medical professionals.

Add dogs, birds, hamsters, and other pets, and you have a huge reservoir of potential allergens.

Allergies to pets can take years become manifest.

Symptoms, which can come and go with immune system loading factors, may be mistaken for a series of "colds."

Then a chronic condition develops which is identified by provocative testing as animal allergy.

Assuming the victim is able to part with the pet, cleaning can begin.

After the pet is gone, it can take months or even years to remove pet dander from a contaminated home.

Yes, an air purifier will reduce airborne dander and odor while pets are still present, but do not expect full allergy relief from a purifier with no air-borne source removal.

Pet allergen comes mainly from saliva, it is a protein transferred primarily by licking.

Dogs show affection by direct licking and cats groom themselves fastidiously with their tongues.

When her fur is "clean" and dry, with saliva proteins ready to fly off, kitty feels pretty and ready for social life.

Time for petting.

Unfortunately, the very behavior that makes an animal a perfect pet, their ability to demonstrate affection in a manner humans can relate to, transmits the allergens.

Humans, after interaction with pets, carry the allergens on their hands, clothing, and in their hair, becoming vectors.

Pet allergen, which can be scientifically measured, has been found in schools, hospitals, doctor's offices, and anywhere pet owners congregate.

Furniture and especially carpet form a deep reservoir for pet allergens, allowing foot traffic to stir them up far into the future.

Animal dander (skin flakes) is very tiny and light, it floats in the air indefinitely.

Pet allergen is one tenth the size of mold spores or pollen, in the .1 micron range that is difficult to filter effectively.

Particles carrying pet allergen collect on surfaces high in rooms, where cleaning is difficult. Any draft will start them floating again.

The purifiers chosen to deal with a pet allergy situation will need to remove .1 micron sized protein fragments.

Only a few premium air cleaners can do this over an extended period of time.

A top of the line HEPA such as IQAir air purifier, or a HEPA equivalent air cleaner such as Blueair, would be my recommendation.

It should be run on higher speeds 24/7, even if symptoms subside.

Ozone generators and electronic air cleaners will not help pet allergy.

Pollen Allergy

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Pollen is tiny particles released from trees, weeds, flowers, and grasses. Since plants cannot physically move, they reproduce by releasing millions of pollen grains into the wind.

If you have seasonal allergy, just take heart, flowers and trees are in love.

Of all allergy triggers, pollen is the most difficult to avoid.

Sometimes it seems to be snowing pollen.

Seasonal allergy ("hay fever") can progress to perennial allergy, and eventually the individual may be sensitized to additional triggers.

High pollen counts mean snuggling up indoors and turning on the air purifier.

Fortunately pollen tends to be a relatively large particle, 5 microns and above, and settles to the floor fairly quickly.

With common grass and weed pollens approaching 50 microns, almost any air purifier can deal with a threat of this nature.

Here is one place where AHAM clean air delivery rates are very relevant.

Every time somebody opens a door or window, or just walks around, pollen will be stirred up from the floor.

With pollen allergy, many air purifiers, including some inexpensive models, will work.

The large particle size involved will foul many filters quickly.

Plenty of HEPA models are acceptable here, starting in the low $100's. Honeywells, Hunters, Whirlpools, most will be fine.

But remember, IGNORE AHAM/manufacturer room size recommendations, pollen CADR should exceed room size.

Mold Spores

Molds are microscopic fungi that reproduce by proliferation of spores ranging in size from 1 to 100 microns.

Molds can grow anywhere when moisture is present.

Here is one of the most common problems I see in consumer air purifier reviews: people have installed an air purifier to "get rid of mold."

Some complain bitterly that high priced HEPA purification has failed to remove the musty odor.

Others gleefully report that the air smells "fresh" after using an ozone making "purifier."

This is the secret of ozone's success as an air purifier: active purification.

It wafts about for days, oxidizing biologicals like mold.

Unfortunately, ozone levels high enough to destroy mold are unsafe for anyone, especially those with symptoms of any illness.

The key to understanding mold is water.

Mold will grow on a wide variety of substrates, when water is present.

When mold grows unchecked indoors, it releases millions of spores.

Indoor mold spore counts can be hundreds of times higher than outdoors.

These levels are hazardous to everyone, allergic or otherwise.

If you have a mold problem, investigate the source of moisture.

Wet basements are a common source, sometimes impossible to cure.

HVAC coils, collectors, and pans are often hidden sources.

If there is leaky plumbing, roofing, or a downspout that dumps runoff incorrectly, there will be mold.

Installing an air purifier for allergy to mold under these circumstances is bound to be a disappointment.

Water damage that has resulted in substantial mold growth could require remediation by a licensed contractor.

Replace rotted or wet organic building materials; wood, ceiling tile, carpeting, wallboard, and wallpaper.

Particleboard kitchen and bath fixtures, with pressed wood hiding under a thin facade of Formica plastic veneer, are places to inspect from below.

Ionizers are not very effective at reducing mold counts.

UV light can destroy mold, but the application to hundreds of square feet of living space is problematic.

UV light intensity, which decreases rapidly with distance from the bulb, must illuminate the mold for a time measured in minutes.

Air purifiers with uv tend to focus it on the filters or use the light to activate photocatalysts.

The best application of uv in an allergy situation is for disinfecting air conditioning coils and evaporation pans in the HVAC system.

Newer air purification technologies are available that will surpass ozone for normal household mold remediation.

These are hydroxyl radical oxidizers, safer with their short lives, and photocatalytic oxidizers, which burn microorganisms with high tech semiconductors.

Sharp FP-A80U would be a good alternative to ozone for a mold situation, but only for a limited room size, say under 200 square feet.

The portable Sharps could easily be moved to the mold source, i.e. kitchen or bath.

Control moisture with source removal and dehumidifiers.

When moisture is gone, properly sized HEPA air purifiers are effective at purifying airborne mold.

Dedicated air sterilizers, such as Airfree and Eco-rx can help after the moisture is removed.

Air purifiers, Allergy and Dust Mites

"House dust" is a mix of materials, many of which are toxic or allergenic.

Surprisingly, house dust is around 70% human skin flakes and hair. Pet households will of course have pet skin and hair fragments.

It can also contain particles from clothing, synthetic fabrics, carpet fibers, plastic, and furniture, many artificial and new to human immune systems.

House dust also contains microscopic dust mites.

It is enzymes in mite waste-products, which are proteins, that actually stimulate the allergic immune response.

Typical house dust mites drop about 20 of these fecal pellets, approximately the size of a grain of pollen, every day.

Averaging around 20 microns is size, dust mite allergen is relatively large, and heavy.

It doesn’t remain suspended in the air, for an air purifier to inhale.

Allergic to bug poop?

Yep, and these tiny arachnids, which feed on skin flakes, live in bedrooms.

They practically live on our bodies, extracting everything they need.

Victims usually get a dose close to a source: a pillow, mattress, or stuffed teddy bear.

The common solution to a dust mite problem involves special bedding, hot water washing, carpet powder, and vacuuming, rather than an allergy air purifier.

Since the source cannot be effectively eliminated, air purifiers are not a primary tool for dust mite infestations.

A dehumidifier can help, mites thrive in high humidity.

Air purifiers, Allergy and VOC

Chemical sensitivity, which is not technically an allergy, because it is not immunoglobulin E mediated, may develop after prolonged allergic sensitivity.

There are a boatload of immune and endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals in today’s toy-chemistry-set-experiment.

Anyone with any illness should be concerned with reducing the body's toxic load.

I suggest activated carbon chemical filtration, which comes measured in pounds, for all but seasonal pollen allergy.

Lightweight polyester carbon dust "odor" filters are window dressing for the unsophisticated consumer of air purifiers.

Purifiers with real VOC carbon are always best where serious illness is present.

Best allergy purifiers with HEPA and carbon; IQAir.

Air Purifiers at

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