While you’re spending more time indoors, you may begin noticing things about your home that you didn’t notice before. Maybe it’s that crack in the bathroom tile, the ash mark on the wall near your candles, or the blanket of stagnant air floating around you. John McKeon, MD, CEO of Allergy Standards, a company that certifies air purifiers as allergy and asthma friendly for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, says that having good indoor air quality is part of living in a healthy home.
“Indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air quality,” says Dr. McKeon “Outdoor air quality is an issue. But then on the whole indoor air, where we spend most of our times can be more polluted than outdoor air.”
While we introduce allergens like pollen and animal hair to our homes, our indoor environment also creates allergens, says Dr. McKeon. Dust mites build up naturally and thrive off of dead skin. Particles are released into the air whenever there’s a furnace, wood-burning fire, or candle. Cooking releases oil and fat particulates into the air. “The particles of concern are the ones you can’t see,” says Jake Read, advanced design engineer at Dyson.
The specifics of your home environment also impact air quality, explains Dr. McKeon. Since newer, more energy efficient homes don’t have the same gaps and cracks as older homes, there’s less air circulation, he says. Humidity can lead to higher dust levels. Newly installed floors and furniture can release chemicals into the air.
Now, all of this isn’t meant to freak you out—when it comes to indoor air quality and health, Dr. McKeon says an allergen is really only an issue if it bothers you.
“It would be wrong to spread a message that everybody needs to have an air cleaner. Many people benefit by having an air cleaner, but people may may live in an indoor environment that’s got good air quality already and it’s well ventilated,” says Dr. McKeon. “If you’ve got a good indoor air quality and you are not suffering symptoms, and you’re somebody who’s not bothered by some of those indoor allergens anyway, then it’s probably not required.”
If you know your triggers, it’s also possible to reduce the amount of allergens in your indoor air by doing things like vacuuming more, getting rid of pests, and installing a humidifier or dehumidifier, depending on your space’s needs. But whether or not you’re bothered by indoor allergens, Dr. McKeon says some people just like the assurance of having an air purifier to know they’re breathing clean air.
Keep in mind that the air purification system you choose is only as good as the way you use it. “You’ve got to run that thing 24/7,” says indoor air quality expert Vinny Lobdell, global president of HealthWay. When purchasing an air purifier, Dr. McKeon says it’s important to look for one that’s validated by a third-party testing organization to ensure it’s effectively removing and trapping allergens.
Shop validated air purifiers at four different price points below.
The best air purifiers to improve indoor air quality and your health
1. BLUEAIR BLUE PURE 411, $100
Blueair’s most compact air purifier is suitable for spaces that are 161 square feet or smaller. It silently filters an area of that size every 12 minutes to remove 99.97 percent of airborne particles. It is verified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers for Clean Air Delivery Rate, the EPA for Energy Star rating, and the California Air Resources Board for for electrical safety and ozone emission. It comes two machine washable pre-filter fabric sleeves in black and blue. Additional washable pre-filters ($10) to match your decor are available in crystal pink, buff yellow, and light gray.
Certified asthma and allergy friendly, LG’s air purifier has a room coverage of 248 square feet. A three-stage filtration system, including a deodorizing filter, removes 99.97 percent of particulates. It’s complete with a timer, filter alarm, and child lock. This model also comes in gold.
3. DYSON PURE HOT+COOL, $650
Dyson’s top-line air purifier, which doubles as both a fan and heater, removes 99.97 percent of allergens and pollutants including pollen, mold, and bacteria. It automatically monitors, reacts, and purifies your air, then reports air quality to your Dyson Link app. Control it with your voice by connecting it to your Amazon Echo. It is also certified asthma and allergy friendly.
If you want to take things to the next level, you can get the Cryptonic version. An added technology panel on the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Cryptomic ($750) captures all volatile organic compounds and destroys some of the most toxic, including formaldehyde.
4. DYSON PURE HUMIDIFY+COOL, $800
Take everything you love about Dyson’s air purification technology, and add a humidifier. With the release of its newest product, Dyson tackles two common air quality problems at once: dirty air and dry air. (Lack of humidity can also lead to higher-than-average levels of dust, says Dr. McKeon.) A new breeze mode uses a complex algorithm to mimic natural airflow patterns so you can bring the good feeling of an outdoor breeze inside. It’s also way easier to clean than a traditional humidifier. The Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool Cryptomic ($900) includes signature technology to destroy common VOCs at a molecular level.