That’s a good question. Many people suffer from allergies as a result of poor indoor air quality in their rooms and offices. The air in our rooms and offices is often loaded with all kinds of allergy-aggravating particles like dust, dust mites, mold spores, pollen, etc. So, the logical thing to do is clean up the air. But there is some confusion as to whether ionizers or HEPA filters are better for allergy reduction, keeping pet dander down, etc.
Well, the answer is ‘yes’: it’s best to have both if you can, but if you can only choose one, choose the air purifier with a true HEPA filter. Here’s why: a true, certified HEPA filter has dense fabric-like woven fibers that have very small spaces in between where only air can pass through-true HEPA filters trap the very smallest particles, everything larger than 0.3 microns, which includes dust, dust mite parts, pet dander / pet hair, human hair, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and some viruses. Certified HEPA filters are designed to trap these particles that cause allergy problems, or allergy symptoms. Certified means AHAM certified (American Home Appliance Manufacturers Association), which means that the filter has been tested by this independent testing group and certified to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns and larger.
Adding an ionizer is good because it can make the HEPA filter even more effective. As the ionizer releases ions in the air, the ions cause small particles (especially pet dander) to stick together, making them heavier and easier for the HEPA filter to trap. One thing to remember, however, is to choose an air purifier / ionizer that does not produce ozone. Ozone has been proven harmful to humans/animals over and over, and it’s actually a respiratory irritant, which will only increase your allergy symptoms.
The best ionizer type air cleaners produce only an OH- or hydroxyl ion, which has the same effect on particles / airborne bacteria / organisms as ozone, but is not harmful to humans/pets, and has actually been found to even help depression! Negative ions also destroy bacteria/viruses in the air so they useful in a family’s effort to keep colds and flu under control, as well. Blueair and Winix air purifies use these healthy negative ions to enhance HEPA filter performance.
The other very important thing to remember about HEPA filters is that you must replace them regularly, especially if you have indoor pets. Why? When a filter becomes clogged, 2 main things begin to happen: 1) backflow / leakage of unpurified, allergy-aggravating air because some of the air drawn in cannot pass through, 2) the air purifier is stirring up air-and allergens-and with a clogged filter, it is blowing around polluted air, which can actually make allergy symptoms worse, and 3) increased energy costs / higher utility bills–as the air purifier is having to work harder to get the air through the clogged HEPA filter, more energy is used. Replacing your HEPA filters ensures that you will continue to breathe clean healthy air, reduces the chances of an allergy attack, and you’ll probably see a reduction in allergy medication costs.
So overall, we recommend that you choose an air cleaner or air purifer with a true HEPA filter and a healthy negative OH- ion ‘ionizer’. but definitely one with a HEPA filter if that is all that is available to you. Brands like Blueair and Winix offer air cleaners with the HEPA/ionizer combination. Together, these filters and a good ionizer will do a great job cleaning up the air in your rooms/offices and can definitely play an imporant role in allergy reduction. And make sure to replace your filters regularly!
I hope this article helps you achieve the cleanest air possible and the best allergy reduction possible.