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Tips for Buying an Air Purifier

Mar 21, 2017

Updated: You may be interested to read Which air purifier I use for my family.


While researching tips for choosing a new water filter, I also started to gather information on selecting the best air purifiers. Just like water filters, I found this subject to be complicated and time consuming!  With so many options on the market for consumers, it can be difficult to choose the best fit.  For those searching for an air purifier to use in their home, below are a few questions that can help narrow your search more quickly.

Questions to Consider:

What Contaminants Need To Be Filtered?  Air purifiers do their work by circulating air through a filter, which may only address some pollutants, or may be capable of handling many at once.  So in order to choose the right filter, one should consider what contaminants need to be absorbed out of the indoor environment.  Does a member of your family have allergies, or are you more concerned with lowering VOC levels in your home?  The table below can help you narrow down what filters are best for your situation.


What is Filtered Out




Dust, pet & human dander, allergens.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the most recognized and reliable air filtration technology, capable of trapping particles down to 0.3 microns in size, 99.97% of the time.  They are highly recommended by allergists due to their effectiveness.

HEPA Filter


VOCs from household items, odors from humans, pets, cooking, etc.

Carbon filters absorb and retain a wide variety of chemicals, and work well under a wide range of temperature and humidity levels.  They are not as effective as HEPA filters for removing particles larger than 0.3 microns.


Ozone Generators

Some indoor air pollutants.

Examples of ozone generators are “filterless” purifiers.  The EPA does not consider ozone generators effective in controlling indoor air pollutants, and note that they are not always safe – ozone is a lung irritant that can cause adverse health effects.



How Big is the Space?  Air purifiers are equipped to filter a finite amount of space, so the size of the area needs to be considered.  Generally speaking, one filtration unit wouldn't be very effective in purifying the air in an entire home, so consider the space dimensions of the rooms you want to purify.  Since we all spend so much time in our living room and bedroom (about 1/3 of our lives is spent sleeping!) those are  two high impact areas to focus on for filtering.  If someone in the family has allergies, you may want to consider purifying the kitchens and bathrooms as well.

Will I Find the Noise to Be Disruptive?  A common complaint of air purifiers is that they can be noisy, and the more powerfully they purify, the louder they become.  Consider a unit with a slightly larger capacity than necessary, so it can run on a lower setting, or investigate one of the more state-of-the-art filters that specifically address noise issues.

What Do Experts Recommend? When speaking to experts, most recommended a HEPA with an added carbon filter to take care of an array of pollutants in the home.  As situations become more unique and the pollutants more specific, different filters should be investigated.  The technology for air purifiers is always improving. Current state-of-the-art models allow for noise control, interchangeable filters (based on what particulates need to be removed,) and auto-adjusting capabilities based on contaminant detection.

In addition to air purifiers, a helpful way to detox air is to  eliminate the source of a pollutant (for instance, a formaldehyde-emitting rug,) which is often more effective than trying to remove its aftereffects.  Including more plants in your indoor air can also improve air quality. You can read more from a prior post: Indoor air pollution ranked as one of the top 5 threats to public health. Plants are an effective solution!

Additional resources are below:

EPA's Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home

CDC Indoor Environmental Quality  


Deconstruct to reconstruct.

In 2020, we're deconstructing our home, habits, and things to reconstruct a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.



This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Views expressed in this article by an expert are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nontoxic Living or Ruan Living.

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