How do air purifiers work?

How do air purifiers work?

Have you ever wondered how do air purifiers work? Is it as effective as the enticing promises? These questions have been asking by many consumers for a long time. This article has thus condensed a snippet of useful information about an air purifier.

Although they may seem like a new innovation, air purifiers have been around for more than 200 years. The purpose of air purifiers started out as protective masks for firefighters and have evolved over the years to now protect you and your family from airborne pollutants. Learn how air purifiers work below.

Air purifier operating principle – is one. Air set in motion by the fan passes through a system of filters and purified air is released to the outside. In most air purifiers on the market, the polluted air is drawn in at the side or rear of the air purifier, and the filtered air is released at the top. This ensures good air circulation in the room, thus better cleaning of the air.

What is an air purifier?

The basic function of an air purifier is to filter dirty air and release purified air out into the atmosphere. An air purifier engineered with HEPA and activated carbon filters can work effectively against pollens, fine particles, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), viruses and bacteria. Dyson purifiers can remove up to 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns.¹

More and more we’re seeing air purifiers in the spaces around us. Hospitals, schools and office spaces are all reaping the benefits of air purifiers.

Who needs Air Purifiers the most?

Health conditions concern

All of us need clean indoor air, especially for those suffering from allergies and respiratory system problems such as asthma. Better air quality in your office, home, school, and car can reduce allergy and asthma triggers.

Stay in modern houses or buildings

Modern buildings are designed to be more energy-efficient. Thus, the buildings are better sealed to comply with the requirements. In that cases, the airflow circulation is compromised, and pollutants can be trapped inside the house. For instance, you are more likely to need an air purifier in terms of more artificial ventilation.

Nearby pollution sources

Some buildings are exposed to various pollutants from vehicle exhaust, construction contaminants, fresh paints, and more. Installing an air purifier can filter all these harmful particles from your indoor air if you occupy those buildings.

How Air Purifiers Work

Unlike most air filters, which are typically found inside a home’s HVAC system — usually between the air return and furnace/air conditioner — air purifiers are often portable. Instead of trapping harmful allergens or particles like a filter, some air purifiers neutralize those particles.There are a few common air purifiers, including ionic, absorbent, High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) and UV light purifiers.

Ionic Purifiers

Ionic air purifiers form an electric field so that ionic particles become positively or negatively charged. These ions then attach themselves to bacteria in the air and are pulled towards the opposite charge of the air purifier.

Absorbent Purifiers

Absorbent air purifiers use a filter made of porous material like activated charcoal or carbon. This material is great for absorbing toxins or chemicals in the air and releasing only clean air. These types of purifiers are great for removing unwanted odors from the home as well.

HEPA Purifiers

HEPA Purifiers usually use a fan to pull in polluted air through a filter that’s made of fiberglass. This filter traps particles between the fibers of the filter and then releases the clean air back into the room.

UV Purifiers

UV air purifiers suck air into the purifier and expose it to UV light. This purifier is great for minimizing the spread of illness. UV light helps break down chemical bonds between DNA and makes a virus inactive. It can also help kill bacteria and mold.

While there are several different ways air purifiers work, the best way to keep the air in a home clean is to utilize both an air filter and an air purifier. Air purifiers work great to neutralize toxins and particles in the air, but once particles settle on the floor or furniture, they won’t be able to get rid of them. Making sure the air filters are changed regularly will help keep harmful particles out of the air, and vacuuming or washing furniture, bedding, pets and the floor often can help reduce harmful allergens or air particles.

What’s in our air?

Indoor air consists of a concoction of potentially dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde, as well as particulate matter such as pollen, dust, bacteria and nitrogen dioxide.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Understanding the impact of different sources of indoor VOC pollution is central to Dyson’s research and development. Made up of carbon, hydrogen and sometimes oxygen, VOCs are potentially harmful compounds that can emit from common household items. DIY and personal care products, cleaning sprays, candles and perfumes are all common offenders.


A colourless gas that can be released from materials such as plywood and fibreboard, insulation and do-it-yourself products like paint, wallpapers, varnishes and household cleaning sprays. Formaldehyde is 500 times smaller than 0.1 microns and particularly difficult to capture. When left undetected, it can be trapped in a home for years.

Nitrogen dioxide

A reddish-brown gas released into the home through gas appliances, open flames, wood burning stoves and cigarettes. Fossil fuel combustion is a huge source of NO2 and it can enter through windows and ventilation.

Particulate matter

A complex mixture of extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in air. PM10 particles such as pollen and allergens, are small enough to pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. PM2.5 are microscopic particles from sources such as industrial emissions, bacteria and fungi. PM0.1 are inherently unstable particles that can easily grow into larger particles through coagulation and condensation. They’re mostly found in vehicle exhaust emissions and tobacco smoke.

Bacteria and viruses

Bacteria and viruses may be found all over your home, including in household dust. Germs from a sneeze can even travel up to six metres.


Beyond the biological components of dust, synthetic particles like microplastics are increasingly common. In fact, even microscopic particles from rubber tyres have been found in dust samples analysed at the Dyson microbiology labs. Many of these particles are small enough to become airborne when disturbed. Read Dyson’s dust report.


Pollen grains are particles produced by trees, flowers and grasses. They’re responsible for one of the most common seasonal allergies in the world. Infiltration through open doors and windows means that pollen is often found within homes – airborne when disturbed. As our homes become increasingly well-sealed, it may seem like we’re shutting pollution out. But in truth, we’re trapping it in. Whether we’re sleeping, working, cooking or exercising, we now spend 90% of our time indoors,³ breathing potentially dirty air.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an air purifier filters everything?

No indoor air purifier can remove everything unpleasant from the air. It is easier to filter out larger particles such as pollen and dust. The right purifier type needs to be chosen to filter out the microscopic contaminants such as bacteria and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).[1]Air Cleaners and Air Filters in the Home

Can I use an air purifier in an apartment or condo?

Yes, cleaner air can be yours in any living situation—no HVAC required. Because no two living spaces or families are alike, we designed air purifier devices and filters for different room sizes—from small to extra large.[2]Benefits of an Air Purifier for Apartment Living

Do we really need air purifier?

There is very little medical evidence to support that air purifiers directly help improve your health or alleviate allergies and respiratory symptoms. That’s due in part to the fact that it is difficult to separate the effects of known air-quality pollutants in your home from other environmental and genetic factors.[3]Do I Really Need an Air Purifier?

Do air purifiers remove dust?

Air purifiers with a HEPA filter tend to be the best for filtering dust from your space. According to the EPA, HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of dust particles that measure 3 microns in diameter.[4]Do Air Purifiers Work for Dust in Your Home?

Does air purifier really work?

“Yes, a good air purifier can help clear the air of smoke from bushfires or tobacco, and odours,” says Barnes. “They can also help remove common household allergens, such as dust, pollen and mould, that can trigger hay fever, asthma and other respiratory conditions.[5]Do air purifiers really work?

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