April 4, 2023
Woman in Home after Indoor Air Quality Service in Sacramento, CA

Air purifiers are often used in Sacramento, California, to improve indoor air quality. However, can allergy sufferers use them to reduce their allergy symptoms? If so, how much improvement can they expect?

Trapping Allergens and Filtering the Air

Do air purifiers help with allergies? Yes. They are designed to clean the air by capturing allergens and releasing filtered and clean air back into the room.

Air purifiers are beneficial because most of the air in most homes is polluted by a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles. These are referred to as particulate matter.

The particulates in the air can vary in size. Some are fine particles, like dust and pollen, and others are larger particles, like pet dander.

When a person breathes the air in a home, these air particles find their way into their bodies. Air purifiers use filters to capture and remove the irritants that cause allergic reactions before they can affect an allergy sufferer.

The majority of air purifiers capture pollen and dust. However, high-end air purifiers use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to remove particles that are 0.1 µm in size. HEPA filters use a multi-layer network of fine fiberglass threads. Each thread is thinner than one strand of human hair. This makes them highly efficient at removing smaller allergy-causing particles from the air.

Some air purifiers use ultraviolet light, ionization, and activated carbon filtration. The extent to which a particular air filter can address allergies varies based on the technology used and the allergies a person has. Typically, the best air filters use a combination of technologies to destroy, reduce, and trap airborne allergens.

How Do Air Purifiers Help Reduce Allergens?

Because air purifiers can capture many allergen particles, they are often recommended as a part of an environmental improvement program for patients with respiratory diseases connected to their allergies. More medical evidence is needed to support the direct link between air purifiers and reducing respiratory symptoms. However, there are ample anecdotal reports from allergy sufferers on how air purifiers have helped them with their allergies.

When manufacturers say that their purifiers kill most airborne pollutants and allergens, they highlight the benefits of the technology in their purifiers. Medical-grade air purification technology can remove particles as small as .25 µm and as large as 10 µm from the room. They can clear a room of these particles in as little as 30 minutes.

Dust mites, pollen, and bacterial viruses fall within the range of particles removed by medical-grade air purification technology. Some air purifiers can remove bacteria and ultrafine particles as small as 0.1 µm. These include the particles released into the air when using natural gas for heating or cooking.

When the statistics of air purifiers are released, they are based on the results in controlled conditions and laboratories. Homeowners should realize that in the real world, factors like operating time, flow rate, and location could impact an air purifier’s ability to reduce allergy-causing particulates.

Helping People With Pet Allergies

Pet allergies are caused by more than just pet fur in the air. Animal saliva and skin can also trigger respiratory-related allergic reactions in people.

These particles are very small, measuring under 2.5 µm. Because they are so light, they can stay in the air for a long time. It is also easier for them to travel through the home and make their way onto clothing, furniture, and floors.

Air purifiers can remove particles that trigger pet allergies, especially if the purifier is equipped with a HEPA filter. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), HEPA filters have the ability to filter out up to 99.97% of pollen, dust, and other airborne particles that are .3 µm or larger. So they can safely remove most of the pet dander from the air.

Air Purifiers for Pollen Allergies

Many plants, grasses, and trees release pollen into the air during their reproduction process. Pollen grains can be between 2.5 and 200 µm in size. You can see a cluster of pollen with the naked eye. However, an individual grain is too small to see without the help of a microscope.

Small pollen grains travel through the air and enter the home via doors, windows, and your home’s HVAC system. From there, they enter into a person’s body. It is nearly impossible to eliminate pollen from a home without using some air purification system.

When pollen enters the body of a person with allergies, their body sees it as a foreign invader and triggers an alarm mechanism. The immune responses focus on the respiratory system, which leads to a person having hay fever-like symptoms, including sneezing, a congested nose, red or watery eyes, and an itchy throat. A person with asthma might experience chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

Since HEPA filters can trap airborne particles with a diameter of at least 0.1 µm, and since most pollen particles are larger than that in size, HEPA filters are usually effective at minimizing indoor pollen levels. Ionizers that use either cold plasma or bipolar technology are also a great tool in fighting against pollen by releasing ions. These air filters cause airborne particles like pollen to clump together. They become heavy and fall to the ground.

Air Purification for Dust Allergies

Dust is not a distinct material; it is a collection of different fine particles. Dust can be made up of skin cells, soil, pest byproducts, and even small insect-like creatures called dust mites. A person with a dust allergy is allergic to what is inside the dust. More times than not, it is the dust mites.

Thankfully, high-quality air purifiers with HEPA filters can easily remove dust and dust mites from the air. Ionic purifiers do an excellent job of destroying any biological contaminants in the dust. Air purifiers with UV light add another layer of protection as they significantly eliminate allergy-causing biological pollutants like mold.

Can Air Purifiers Help Minimize Asthma Symptoms?

Some studies suggest a link between allergy triggers and asthma attacks. It appears that this happens with greater frequency in children than in adults.

The key to reducing allergy-triggered asthma attacks has to do with first identifying the pollutant that the person with asthma is allergic to. If airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold are the trigger, an air purifier designed to remove these allergens could help. Of course, installing an air purifier in the home should not be seen as a replacement for treatments like inhalers. It is often best to discuss using an air purifier with a medical professional to see how it will improve or impact an asthma sufferer’s symptoms.

Getting the Best in Heating and Cooling in Sacramento, California

Since the late 80s, the stand-up folks at Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning have dedicated themselves to providing exceptional HVAC service throughout the greater Sacramento area. We are proud to be EPA-certified, fully licensed, and have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Our services include HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair. We install heat pumps, offer air quality solutions like air purification, provide duct cleaning and ductless mini splits installation, and offer various general plumbing services. Contact Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today, and see for yourself how it feels to work with a company that cares.

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