Are Air Purifiers Worth It? Are Air Purifiers A Waste of Money?

How Does Air Purifier Work? What Air Purifier Does?

Air purifiers normally work by purifying the air, which may include impurities such as odors, smoke, dust, pet dander, and pollutants. The types of particles or impurities removed ultimately depend on the type of air purifier you choose from.

They usually consist of one or more filters and a fan that draws the air in. The air then passes through the filters leaving the pollutants and harmful particles trapped while the clean air is expelled. That means, without the air filter, the air purifier is no other than an electricity-consuming machine.

To operate it, you would have to regularly replace its air filters to maintain its high efficiency on top of its originally high adoption costs. Operating and maintaining an air purifier is expensive, filters are normally required to be replaced several times a year. In addition, experts recommend that you run your air purifiers 24/7, so, you will have to also factor in the high electricity costs. In tropical countries where air conditioners are essential products and widely used, turning the air conditioners into air purifiers would be the best cost-saving option for the majority of households.

Are Air Purifiers Effective? Will Air Purifier Help With COVID?

The effectiveness of air purifiers generally does not live up to their "99% effectiveness" claims in real-world usage as the location, installation, flow rate, and condition vary differently from lab-tested conditions. In addition, an air purifier likely will not remove all the impurities in your home. This is because many particles may be stuck to surfaces such as tabletop, bedding, carpet, and furniture.

Although some air filters used in air purifiers are washable and reusable, they are generally less effective or unable of trapping smaller particles such as viruses and bacteria. On the other hand, you might have also heard of the ultraviolet (UV) light feature on air purifiers which often claim to irradiate 99.9% of germs like viruses and bacteria. But is it too good to be true?

A study published by the Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Irving Medical Center (New York), estimated that far-UVC light could kill 99.9% of airborne coronaviruses in 25 minutes. But does your air purifier take this long to disinfect the air before they are expelled? Probably not.

Are Air Purifiers Safe? Are Air Purifiers Safe For Pets?

While UVC light can kill coronaviruses after a long duration of direct contact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes some important risks of using it:

· Exposure to some types of UVC light can harm your skin or eyes.

· The types of UVC light sold in air purifiers are often lower in intensity, which means it takes way longer than 25 minutes to actually kill the germs.

· UVC light can potentially contain mercury or produce ozone, which is extremely harmful if inhaled prolong.

While other air purifiers provide an ionizing or electrostatic feature to capture particles, they do pose a huge health risk of producing ozone which can damage the lungs, cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. In addition, ozone inhalation may worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability to fight respiratory infections.

Are Air Purifiers Good For Asthma?

There is very little medical evidence suggesting that air purifiers can help to alleviate respiratory symptoms. In 2018, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology analysed the effectiveness of indoor allergen reduction in asthma management and found that:

“Despite an extensive evidence base spanning several decades, the evidence base as a whole is insufficient to support meaningful conclusions about the effectiveness of many widely used products and strategies for improving patient outcomes by reducing environmental allergen exposure.”

If you have any underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies, consult your doctor about ways to improve your indoor air quality before investing in an air purifier.

Can Air Purifier Remove Mold?

Similar to allergens, mold particles may pose severe health risks for individuals with underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma or other lung conditions.

Air purifiers do not necessarily prevent or remove mold, so it is better to stick to a dehumidifier or proper filtration enhancement products or your household air conditioner that features a mold-proof operation to block the accumulation of mold and odors while reducing the humidity levels. Do not take the cleanliness of the air you breathe for granted.

Can Air Purifier Remove Dust? Will Air Purifier Reduce Dust?

Many air purifiers are good at removing common pollutants such as dust, smoke, and pollen, but not necessarily good at particles such as allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOC) or radon from various household cleaning products and paint that can cause lung cancer.

Can Air Purifier Remove Smell?

Household odors from smoking, cooking, garbage, mold, and sweat can cause your home to smell funky. In addition, if you are a smoker or living beside a smoker, then an air purifier with an activated carbon filter will remove just that, leaving your home smelling better.

The bottom line

Before you buy, know that air purifiers are not a cure-all. Given the fact that indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, air purifiers do help to reduce some of the pollutants in the air. However, most do not live up to their marketing hype.

They can offer an extra layer of protection if you follow other precautional measures properly such as wearing a face mask, social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene.

Still, air purifiers work best together with proper filters which may have the greatest impact on your indoor air quality. Do not take the cleanliness of the air you breathe for granted.


  1. Air Filters. EWG's Healthy Living: Home Guide. (n.d.).

  2. Cherney, K. (2019, December 16). Do Air Purifiers Actually Work? Healthline.

  3. Daily, L. (2020, February 11). What you need to know about air purifiers, including little evidence of health benefits. The Washington Post.

  4. DeMarco, C. (2020, September 30). Can air purifiers protect you from COVID-19? MD Anderson Cancer Center.

  5. Is Daikin A Good Aircon Brand in Singapore? Aircon Servicing Singapore. (2019, March 20).

  6. Leas, B. F., D'Anci, K. E., Apter, A. J., Stephens, T. B., Lynch, M. P., Kaczmarek, J. L., & Umscheid, C. A. (2018). Effectiveness of indoor allergen reduction in asthma management: A systematic review. Environmental and Occupational Disease, 141(5), 1854–1869.

  7. Morrison, D. (n.d.). Are Air Purifiers Worth It? Do I Need An Air Purifier? Home Air Guides.

  8. Rothman, R. (2020, September 16). Do Air Purifiers Actually Work? Good Housekeeping.

  9. Seladi-Schulman, J. (2020, October 22). Can UV Light Kill the New Coronavirus? Healthline.

  10. US EPA. (2018, July 16). Indoor Air Quality. Environmental Protection Agency.

  11. US EPA. (2021, May 26). Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners. Environmental Protection Agency.

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