Can Air Purifiers Make You Sick? 6 Reasons Why This Can Happen

Can air purifiers make you sick? This is a frequent question for people who encounter this device for the first time. I want to reassure you that the right air purifiers with proper maintenance, will be safe in most cases. But health hazards do exist.

Continue reading to learn when a purifier can cause irreparable harm to your health, which devices are dangerous, and how to choose the one that will improve your health day in and day out!

Quick Answer 

An air purifier can sometimes make you ill. The causes might be:

  • Ozone generation by a distinct air-cleaning technology.
  • The user did not install or position the air purifier correctly.
  • The filters are not maintained regularly.
  • No cleanliness at home.
  • The device does not meet applicable regulatory standards.

As you can see, it is not always the air purifier’s fault. Sometimes users operate it incorrectly.

I will list the 6 reasons why an air purifier can make you sick and how to avoid that. Let’s dive into the details!

Can Air Purifiers Make You Sick? The Truth and Potential Dangers

The main danger associated with air purifiers is the release of ozone. It can be detrimental to your health and really make you sick. But don’t worry that is not the case with every air purifier out there, nor does it discredit their reliability:

ozone cleaners

  • Only ozone cleaners can cause significant harm to your health.
  • For instance, HEPA air purifiers just use filters and do not generate ozone. They ensure safety without compromising on effectiveness.

However, it is important to note that air purifiers can pose some risks to your health if not used properly or maintained correctly. Let’s take a deeper look.

I recommend checking out the Best Air Purifiers for Asthma and Allergies: 11 Models for Wellness

6 Causes For Sickness From Air Purifiers And How To Avoid It

An air purifier can make you sick if:

  • You use it incorrectly.
  • It creates toxic compounds.
  • It does not adhere to air purification standards.
  • You place it near the sitting area.
  • Air filters are maintained poorly.
  • You do not maintain cleanliness at home.

Let’s look at each of them and find out how you can prevent sickness caused by them.

6 Causes For Sickness From Air Purifiers

Read Also: How Much Electricity Does an Air Purifier Use? Cost in 2024

1. Incorrect Usage

Air purifiers work efficiently when you use them correctly. Many people fail to do so due to their haste or inadequate knowledge.

What are they doing wrong:

Incorrect Usage

Improper Installing Filters

When you buy an air purifier, the filters come wrapped in a protective layer so they do not lose effectiveness. If you do not remove this layer or install the filters incorrectly, the air purifier will not filter correctly. It might worsen your health condition.

Not Using For Adequate Time

Some people do not use the air purifier for an adequate time or fan speed. Here is how you should use it:

  • When you first get an air purifier, indoor air quality is the worst. Hence, use it at the top fan setting for the preliminary run.
  • Once there is an improvement in the air quality, turn the fan to the lower setting. But do not power it off.

Some people keep turning the air purifier on and off to save on the electricity bill. But when you turn it off, the airborne pollutants remain unfiltered and fluctuate the air quality. It might give rise to your allergies and worsen your respiratory health.

Recommendation: It is advised to keep your air purifier on 24/7. If it is Energy Star rated, it will consume minimal power. So, you have nothing to worry about.

2. Usage of Air Purifier that Generates Ozone

Ozone-generating air purifiers release electrically charged particles to split airborne contaminants into safer particles. But in the process, they affect oxygen atoms (O2) and break them.

The single oxygen molecule (O) attaches to other oxygen compounds (O2) and creates Ozone (O3).

Usage of Air Purifier that Generates Ozone

The high concentration of ozone in the air can affect irreparable harm to your health. Let’s look at the attributes of ozone:

  • It causes lung irritation.
  • It gives rise to chest aches, coughing, and nasal congestion.
  • It can trigger and intensify respiratory conditions.
  • Long-term exposure can harm the lungs permanently.
  • Children and animals suffer the most harm from it.

Which purifiers create ozone?

Following are the types of air purifiers that create ozone:

  • Ionic Air purifiers: They discharge negative ions into the atmosphere, which attach to the floating particles and weigh them down. This change in the molecular structure of the particulate matter creates ozone.
  • Electronic Air Cleaners: They electrically charge airborne particles and attract them to the metal plates. It affects oxygen molecules and creates ozone.

So many brands say their air cleaners only create small quantities of ozone. But they add up over time to have a long-lasting negative impact on your health.

Attention! EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) advises against using such ozone air purifiers. You should refrain from buying them.

Which air purifier does not create Ozone?

HEPA air cleaner does not create ozone. It uses a mechanical filtration technique, wherein dense fibers confine the fine airborne contaminants without creating toxic by-products.

Note: It is the right choice for you if you want a safe and efficient air purifier.

Read Also: 9 Best Ozone Free Air Purifier in 2023 (Mechanical)

3. No Cleanliness

Air purifiers work to refine the air quality, not clean your house. They are not vacuum cleaners. Many people have the misconception that they do not need to tidy up their houses because air purifiers suck in dust particles, hair, and pet dander.

But that cannot be farther away from the truth for two reasons:

No Cleanliness

  1. Air purifiers only clean the air. The surfaces remain uncleaned. 
  2. Ionic and electrostatic air purifiers weigh down airborne particles, making them drop to the nearest surface.

You must clean your house regularly. Otherwise, these pollutants will stick to your pets, belongings, clothes, and eventually you!

4. No Regular Filter Maintenance

In order for the air purifier to be safe for your health it needs regular maintenance, especially the filters. Let’s see why!

No Regular Filter Maintenance

Pre-Filter

Pre-Filter captures large particles which clog up the filter over time:

  • If the pre-filter is washable, clean it every two weeks, depending on the cleaning volume.
  • If you do not clean it regularly, the filter will fail to capture the larger particles.
  • They will pass through the remaining filters and increase their filtering burden.
  • It will lower their efficiency and life expectancy.

HEPA Filter

HEPA filter confines fine pollutants in its dense fibers:

  • Most HEPA filters are unwashable.
  • You must replace them every 6-12 months as per the guidelines.
  • If you do not replace them timely, there will be no space between the fibers for the clean air to pass by.
  • As a result, the filter will release contaminants into the air instead of trapping them.

Hence, you must wash or replace the air filters regularly.

Pro-tip: Electronic air purifiers attract pollutants to their metal plates. You should clean them regularly to avoid blockage by the contaminants.

Read Also: 8 Best Air Purifier with Washable Filter in 2023

5. Check Air Purifier Reviews And Certifications

You ought to undertake diligent research before buying an air purifier (or any product). Read reviews by other users, certifications the air purifier has been awarded, and the standards it meets.

Here are additional points you must consider:

Check Air Purifier Reviews And Certifications

Room Coverage

Air cleaners have different room coverage capabilities. You cannot use a tiny air purifier to clean a large room. It is going to fail miserably. Look for portable air purifiers that meet your room coverage requirements.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)

It determines the efficacy of an air purifier at cleaning unwanted particles from a room of a given size. The closer this rate is to the room coverage, the more efficient it is.

Certifications

The lack of certification of the cleaner should alert you, because it is a device that could potentially be dangerous to your health. Look for documents like:

  • AHAM: The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers developed CADR to measure an air purifier’s efficiency. It is not mandatory by law. Manufacturers seek this certification to reinforce their high-quality performance.
  • CARB: The California Air Resources Board (CARB) examines air purifiers for their ozone generation and does not approve those that emit more than the set limit.
  • Energy Star: Appliances that are Energy Star rated consume minimal power. They are economically and environmentally beneficial.

They ensure the reliability of the air purifier.

HEPA Filter

For HEPA purifiers, ensure it meets the HEPA standards like the MERV rating. There are additional things you should know:

  • True HEPA is the widely trusted filter.
  • You will find HEPA-like and HEPA-type filters in the market. Manufacturers name them as such due to their similar design to a HEPA filter. It is just a marketing technique.
  • The reliability of these filters is questionable. Hence, you should not buy them.
Note: Some brands provide separate filters to tackle specific problems like pet shedding, high-levels of smoke or toxins. Buy a purifier that deals with your specific issue.

6. Incorrect Placement Of The Air Purifier

You must avoid placing air purifiers near your bed, dining table, or sitting area for two reasons:

Incorrect Placement Of The Air Purifier

  1. Pollutants: Air cleaners attract pollutants. If you are close to it, you are in the pollutants way and inadvertently inhaling them.
  2. EMF Radiation: Devices release extremely low EMF radiation. Though they are not harmful, it is better to be cautious. Keep the portable air purifiers at a distance from the bed and couch. But make sure it has enough space around it to pull air intake and release clean air.

You can read more about the right device location in my article “Best Place to Put an Air Purifier“.

Are All Air Purifiers Harmful?

Every air purifier is not harmful. Only a few like an ozone generator or ionic air purifier are. You should avoid using them.

If the air purifier meets the room coverage, has powerful filtration, and does not produce ozone molecules, it is safe to use. If it still makes you sick, maybe you are using it wrong or it is not maintained properly.

Which Air Purifier Is Safe For You?

Your safest bet is a HEPA air purifier. It captures almost 100% of the fine airborne pollutants without producing ozone.

True HEPA filter is the most used and reliable filter. If you want a medical-grade HEPA filter, buy a purifier with H13 or H14 filters.

What should you look for in an air purifier?

Here is what you must look for in an air purifier:

What should you look for in an air purifier

  • Powerful filtration.
  • No ozone generators.
  • The Activated Carbon filter is efficient at removing unpleasant odors.
  • Meets regulatory air purification standards.
  • Smart features like Wi-Fi compatibility and remote control.
  • Good warranty and customer service.
  • Good reviews by fellow users.

FAQ

What are the side effects of the air purifier?

A side effect of some air purifiers is that they generate ozone which is a lung irritant. It causes a sore throat and runny nose.

Can air purifiers make you feel ill?

Air purifiers can make you feel ill if you do not use or maintain them correctly.

How air purifiers can be harmful and aggravate health conditions?

If the air purifier can be harmful and aggravate conditions when they use ozone for cleaning or bad maintenance.

Is there a downside to air purifiers?

The downside to air purifiers is they release low EMF radiation and a few create ozone.

Conclusion

It is safe to say that an air purifier does not make you sick if you buy the right one and maintain it well. It will not only purify the air, but also enrich your well-being, sleep, and productivity.

Refrain from buying ozone generators, HEPA-style, or electronic air purifiers as their reliability is questionable. HEPA air purifiers are the most trustworthy for household use.

Do you still have concerns about an air purifier making you sick? Please comment on them down below.