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Side Effects Of Air Purifier

The effectiveness of air purifiers relies on different factors – yet all share the same purpose. Therefore, having an air purifier has tons of benefits. You could probably go on and on about how it cleans the air, makes you breathe easily, and all that.

Similar to medicines, air purifiers are intended to keep you healthy. They work by filtering pollutants and other small particles that float in the air.

But also similar to medicines, using air purifiers can have some unintended effects on our bodies. Fortunately, not all air purifiers have side effects.

All it takes is knowing what air purifiers are safe to use and which you should probably stay away from. This article will discuss that and many more!

Can Air Purifiers Be Harmful?

The air that we breathe is naturally contaminated. That, along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is the reason why air purifiers have become increasingly important nowadays. Air purifiers are great for improving indoor air quality and making the entire family breathe properly. But what if you start experiencing side effects?

Side Effects Of Air Purifier

Designed to eliminate pollutants from the air you breathe, air purifiers have become a must-have for anyone. Luckily, studies have proven that experiencing harmful side effects is unlikely if you use them properly.

With that said, not all air purifiers are created equal. Some are good for your body, while some can be harmful to you. The adverse effects usually depend on the type of filter used and how often they are maintained.

Side Effects of HEPA Filters

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are designed to trap up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants larger than .03 microns. They are excellent for removing tiny particles floating in the air like dust, pollen, and pet dander.

Generally, HEPA filters are safe to use. The problem is that many copycat filters have come out recently.  While these filters work similarly, they don’t meet the HEPA standards. To help differentiate the real ones from fakes, they are given True HEPA.

When used correctly, True HEPA filters do not make you sick. However, it does have a few limitations:

Replacing HEPA filters can be costly – Although there are ways to make HEPA filters last longer, they still need to be replaced periodically. Some pollutants do not come off once they stick to the filters. This is why HEPA filters should not be reused.

HEPA filters are unable to trap VOCs – Another limitation HEPA filters are unable to trap VOCs and other airborne bacteria and viruses that are bigger than .03 microns. VOCs, in particular, get inhaled a lot since the cleaning and beauty products we often use contain these chemicals.

Regular maintenance is needed for HEPA filters – As time passes, built-up debris may cause the HEPA filter to clog  – reducing its effectiveness. HEPA filters need to be cleaned regularly to prevent this from happening quickly. Click here to learn how it’s done.

Side Effects of Carbon Filters

Side Effects of Carbon Filters

With the way it’s designed, carbon filters clean the air using a bed of activated carbon. This technology helps combat VOCs released by several common household items – particularly cleaning products.

There’s a good reason why activated carbon filters are typically used in air purifiers; activated carbon effectively removes pollutants such as various chemicals, smoke, and odorous compounds. In addition, people who have asthma can benefit a lot from carbon filters because of their ability to adsorb pollutants.

Unfortunately, there are downsides to using carbon filters. The most significant ones are:

Carbon filters are not that effective against smaller particles. Though activated carbon filters are excellent for trapping a wide range of pollutants, it doesn’t work very well in filtering particulate matter like dust, pet dander, and other allergens. Using a carbon filter with a more traditional HEPA filter should maximize its capability. 

Its adsorptive nature can also make carbon filters dangerous – When it’s not maintained properly, the pollutants trapped by the carbon filter will continue to accumulate. Once the carbon filter becomes too full, it will re-release previously-adsorbed pollutants into the air. It’s good that carbon filters are washable, so there’s no need to keep replacing them.

Side Effects of Ionizers

side effects of ionizers

The use of air purifiers with ionizers rose to popularity mainly due to their energy- and cost-efficiency. In addition, ionizers clean the air by producing negative ions that aid in collecting airborne contaminants. Eventually, these contaminants become heavy and form dirty surfaces around the air purifier – making them easier to see and clean.

A 2018 study also found that along with keeping the air fresh and almost free from odors, negative ions are also great for inhibiting viruses and bacteria, stress relief, sleep quality, better immune function, and putting you in a better mood.

Unfortunately, using ionizers has its drawbacks:

Ionizers can only clean the air temporarily – The pollutants that negative ions attract fall to the ground since they are not absorbed – hence the dirt that forms around the air purifier and other surfaces nearby. It also results in dirtier walls and furniture constantly due to a buildup of ionized particles. Because of this, even a slight gust of wind can push it back to the atmosphere.

Ionizers emit ozone which is harmful to the lungs – Though by no means an ozone generator, ionizers release a small amount of ozone into the air. Ozone weakens the lungs when high levels of it are inhaled – leading to symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing. Placing the ionizer in confined spaces further adds to the risk it brings.

Side Effects of UV Sanitizers

Side Effects of UV Sanitizers

Ultraviolet (UV) technology for air purifiers has gained traction lately due to its ability to eliminate harmful airborne contaminants like germs, viruses, mold, and bacteria. UV sanitizers not only filter these microorganisms; it destroys them as well.

UV air purifiers work by filtering air it captures through an internal chamber. It is then exposed to a short-wave UV-C light that inactivates pathogens and other microorganisms.

As good as UV sanitizers are, some negatives come with them:

Some UV sanitizers produce ozone – Inhaling ozone in large amounts is very harmful, especially to the lungs. Due to this, UV sanitizers can potentially trigger asthma attacks and other breathing problems.  

UV sanitizers are not good standalone filters – Because of its inability to remove VOCs and particulate matter, UV sanitizers are often best used in conjunction with HEPA and activated carbon filters.’

5 Major Advantages to Using an Air Purifier

This article has been mainly about the negative effects of certain air purifiers. But how about its major benefits? Here are five of them:

  • Air purifiers decrease the risk of airborne infections
  • Air purifiers help prevent certain allergies
  • Air purifiers remove harmful chemicals indoors
  • Air purifiers reduce unpleasant odors
  • Air purifiers improve sleep quality

People Also Ask

Do air purifiers do more harm than good?

When used in confined spaces, some air purifiers can do more harm than good – specifically those that emit ozone. But overall, the positives of air purifiers outweigh the negatives.

Can air purifiers make breathing worse?

If your air purifier makes your breathing worse, it means you probably need to clean or replace the filter. In addition, some air purifiers require regular maintenance to maintain their efficiency. That said, some air purifiers are not recommended for people with breathing problems.

Do air purifiers have radiation?

Air purifiers emit a small amount of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation. Fortunately, the amount of radiation it gives off is totally safe. There is currently zero evidence proving that EMFs are harmful.


Regardless of what air purifier you’re thinking of getting, they all have pros and cons. Your due diligence should help determine which air purifier makes the most sense.

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