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Air purifiers & allergies

Hello all, I wanted to ask for some advice. I am considering purchasing an air purifier but I have not found any information that shows they really work for allergies and asthma.  I would love to hear from you on your own experiences, and any recommendations you can give to a newbie. I have been reading up on this topic and honestly I am extremely confused.  Please help and maybe we can all learn together.

Jeff

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  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, Jeff and welcome! There is a certification program called that rigorously tests products to be sure they meet specifications. You may have seen the Stanley Steemer and the new Natura Benjamin Moore paint? Those were tested by Allergy And Asthma Friendly in order to get their certifications.

    There are several , and I've priced them. One that will handle a room that is up to 600 square feet is $150 or so on Amazon.

  • Jen

    Hi  Jeff,

    Welcome to our forums.  Would you be using the air purifier at home or at work or both?

  • K8sMom2002

    In answer to some of your other questions, about whether they work, are you up for some heavy reading?

    Here's some links to medical journal articles:

    And then there is this info from an article reviewing previous studies of air filtration titled ":"

    A majority of recent intervention studies employed strong designs and more of these studies report statistically significant improvements in health symptoms or objective health outcomes, particularly for subjects with allergies or asthma. The percentage improvement in health outcomes is typically modest, for example, 7% to 25%. 

    So I'm thinking an air purifier/filtration system is only a part of the picture, so it won't replace avoiding your triggers or using the medications that your doctor recommends. But it could help and support that. 

  • jujutsumaster

    Hi Jeff,

    Just seen your post. I was prompted to post recently following my own purchase of an air purifier here in the UK. I don't think this model is available in the USA but the principle of good purifiers must apply anywhere. You may be able to follow this link.

    Fortunately for me personally this has been a great success after years of problems.

    I have just had my asthma review at the docs and we have agreed to withdraw my daily steroid inhaler since I haven't used it for the last few weeks.

  • Kathy P

    Wow NG – I'm so happy that you are able to eliminate your daily inhaled corticosteroid! Hope things stay stable for you. Do you have a "sick plan" that adds it back for support if you get a respiratory infection?

     Jeff – that's a really good question about how effective they are. 

  • jujutsumaster

    Yes I can return to my doc if I get problems but they are insisting I keep my Salbutamol for emergency aid and I always carry antihystamine for when I get a reaction to cat.

    The air purifier in the bedroom has transformed my house dust mite problem.

    In my caes, family members need educating about the importance of keeping the door and windows closed.

  • Kathy P

    How long did it take to notice a difference from the bedroom air purifier? Was it immediate or did things slowly improve over time? I'm thinking I may need to put units in my bedroom and office, but I really need to declutter both rooms first 

  • jujutsumaster

    It was immediate insofar as the unit was delivered and activated in the afternoon and the following morning I awoke minus itchy eyes, irritated runny nose and lungs relaxed. I'd say that it took 4/5 days for my lungs to become significantly less congested. Due to my house dust mite allergy I personally clean the bedroom thoroughly each week including bed linen, mattress etc. Now each week when I clean, surface dust is non existant.

    Attached screen shots from the purifier monitoring app.

  • Jeff

    @Kathy P. Thank you for the reply. I have read many research papers and also the official claim by the US EPA that it is not effective for allergy relief since the particles are too large. What do you guys think?

  • Shea

    I know that for animal dander allergy, if the animal is in the house, an air purifier might reduce dander because there is so much of it everywhere, but it does not reduce dander to the point where I was helped with allergy symptoms at all. Now that I do not have pets, the air purifiers I have now certainly help other allergy and asthma triggers, such as dust mites, pollens, molds, and indoor pollution, and they keep the air fresh feeling. Last time I went on vacation at a nice home with hardwood floors, never animals, same weather/geographical area, I missed my air purifier so bad, and had to take more benadryl, use more inhalers, woke up feeling so much worse. I will pack my purifier next time, I swear. It is important to get HEPA, and not the ionizers that produce ozone. It is important to vacuum prefilters of purifier weekly and to change filters when indicated. And, it is important to keep up with other housework, like washing bedding and linens in hot water weekly (sometimes it happens biweekly for me because there are so many, but something gets washed each week: curtains, sons bedding, my bedding). Those things really helped both my son and I (he used to take benadryl nightly, and now rarely needs it, and I still have severe allergies and asthma, but I know I am doing everything I can, and I am making progress).

  • jujutsumaster

    I can agree with SHEA. My purifier has so far been life changing and I don't have pets. Agree with the cleaning regime etc. 

  • Kathy P

    One other thing about dander is that it's "sticky" – it sticks to walls, ceilings, everywhere! Air purifiers can only clean particles that are suspended in the air. So, if you have a lot of dust around on surfaces, it can't help with that. But if that dust is disturbed and made to be airborne, then it can (potentially) clean it out of the air.

  • Kathy P

    Jeff – what are you hoping the air purifier with do for you? Are you dealing with a lot of indoor allergens? Do you have other allergy prevention measures in place? Would this be for home or work?

  • Jeff

    @Kathy P. Refer to the US EPA report. It says that purifiers do not effectively remove particles over 2 microns. Allergens are much larger.

     

  • jujutsumaster

    Ok my last word on this subject. My Dyson Cool Tower removes particles down to 0.1 microns and has transformed my allergy life over the last few weeks and has enabled my doc and me to agree to withdraw my daily steroid inhaler, so far with no ill effects.

    Of course this is helping to deal with my lifelong main allergy to house dust mite that has caused me to have several endoscopic nasal surgeries. Other folks have other airborne allergies they cannot avoid especially outdoors. But here's a thought – my air purifier affords me a safe haven in my bedroom for several hours a day when sleeping. Respite indeed.

    Household dust is far larger than 0.1 microns and my bedroom is now a surface dust free zone. Proof anough for me that the manufacturers claims are substantiated.

    Some folks like me are also allergic to pets. My speciality is cats and to a lesser extent dogs, so I don't have pets.

  • K8sMom2002

    NG, I'm so glad you've had such a good result from your air cleaner! Just your report on how little dust you have in your home now makes me want to run out and buy one because my house tends to have a lot of dust since we live out in the country. I hate dusting, but if you don't dust … 

    Thanks for giving us a real-life review! I think that's helpful. Sometimes managing a chronic condition is all about managing "tipping points." If you can do something that helps even a little, it can translate into a big difference. 

  • jujutsumaster

    My bedroom is now my safe haven but I still give it a deep clean once a week. This involves vacuuming everwhere dust can gather, including curtains, stripping all bed linen and washing and drying at high temperature. Also vacuum the mattress thoroughly. The vacuum cleaner needs to have a high grade HEPA filter so as not to re-contaminate the room. So before anyone asks, I also have a Dyson cleaner which has greater than HEPA filtration.

    I agree about tipping points. For me, the above effort serves only to reduce the allergy symptoms but adding the Cool Tower into the mix has made a vast difference.

    Dust mites seem to be 'biting the dust' and for a few hours each night I'm breathing beautiful purified air.

  • K8sMom2002

    NG, glad that dust mites seem to be "biting the dust!" I know that washing mine and my daughter's sheets on the "sanitize" setting of our washing machine seems to help our allergies, and I have a vacuum with a HEPA filter bag on it, and that definitely helped. 

    We also schedule our vacuuming earlier in the day so that we aren't stirring up allergens at night before we go to bed. 

    I think it takes a mix of things to help – and that mix is different for each person. Glad you got your mix just right!

  • jujutsumaster

    Agree, our allrgies are all different. Great tip re cleaning early in the day!

    I'm travelling over to the USA to visit a friend and teach some Jujutsu in North Carolina in just over 4 weeks so must leave my air purifier behind. I'll be taking antihystamine and salbutamol (plus my not yet discarded steroid inhaler). Also have good travel and medical insurance just in case. ☺

  • K8sMom2002

    Do you have an asthma action plan signed by your doctor? I always like to carry things like that for extra insurance — over-preparing usually means that nothing will happen.

  • jujutsumaster

    We discussed that at my asthma review last week. They want me to have my flu jab before I go. Should be available in the next few days. ☺

  • Jeff

    Knowledgeable answers guys!! One more question that do air purifiers remove all the harmful particles in our entire room like a vacuum cleaner works? I mean is the machine able to draw in all the bad stuff in our room? I'm confused between what I've read and what I see in the advertisements.

  • jujutsumaster

    Jeff,

    I guess it depends on the quality of product.

    I initially shared my experience because the the purifier that I bought does just what it says on the tin!

    It's produced by one of the most inovative company's in the field here in the UK and I'm not sure what's available elsewhere i.e. the USA. 

    It constantly monitors air quality as defined by EU regulations and reacts accordingly i.e. varies speed. Lets put it a little crudely – if you spray aftershave or even fart in the room, it fires up until the polutants have been dealt with. Yes it's that good!

    The room must be isolated by keeping doors and windows closed but the air smells so pure. Oh yes, I now have a wonderful sense of smell when before I had none.

    Jeff this is my personal experience for my conditions. I hope sharing may help others.

  • K8sMom2002

    NG, that sounds like an awesome improvement for you!

    Jeff, from what I understand, most portable cleaners have recirculating fans on them that moves the air. 

    I went back and read the you linked to — very interesting, especially this.

    Pleated or extended surface filters

    • Medium efficiency filters with a MERV of 5 to 13 are reasonably efficient at removing small to large airborne particles. Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles. Medium efficiency air filters are generally less expensive than HEPA filters, and allow quieter HVAC fan operation and higher airflow rates than HEPA filters since they have less airflow resistance.

    And they list the types of smaller particles as

    • viruses
    • bacteria
    • some mold spores
    • a significant fraction of cat and dog allergens
    • a small portion of dust mite allergens

    So if you have a central HVAC system, one thing that might be helpful to try is to buy a medium efficiency filter with a MERV of 7-13 and keep it swapped out fairly frequently. And a non-ionizing, non-ozone air cleaner might help it out when your HVAC wasn't running or on heavier pollen days. 

    I know that I always buy the HVAC filters that are rated on the high end of that MERV number (can't remember the exact rating of the brand I buy, but it's not the highest as my HVAC dealer warned me that the air restriction could hurt my unit).  

    When I started using the filters, it made a big difference in my DD's asthma and allergies. I wasn't expecting that it WOULD make that big of a difference, so it was a pleasant surprise for me.

    It's not THAT expensive — I pay less than $20 for the filters I buy. So it might be an inexpensive experiment you could try to see if it helped. 

    Which reminds me … it's time for me to swap that filter out!

  • Jeff

    Sounds interesting @Jujutumaster & @K8SMOM2002. But once again, why does the EPA document highlights that the purifiers are not effective if you guys are experiencing remarkable results?

  • jujutsumaster

    Well Jeff I find this question hard to answer. I can only recommend that you explore manufacturers claims and buyer feedback and consider purchasing a good quality purifier, if you think it will help ease your condition.

    You may wish to follow the link below, which relates to the sort of purifier that I purchased here in the UK.

     

  • jujutsumaster

    Just noticed following the link that you can change country to USA on the web site if it doesn't automatically open for USA ☺

  • Jeff

    Sorry for belated response guys. I tried the above link but it doesn't open on my side. Apart from this, what do you think on what laws the purifiers work? Do the manufacturers follow any sort standards?