How Effective Are Air Purifiers?

There is no doubt that the technologies used in high-quality air purification equipment today are effective:

In addition, many well-known organizations use Austin Air, IQAir, AllerAir, Epurair and Blueair air purifiers to address their mission-critical air quality issues:


Hospitals, Labs and Universities Government Businesses
Mayo Clinic US Army IBM
UCLA Medical Center US Navy Boeing
Duke University Medical Center US Homeland Security Bombardier
Hong Kong Hospital Authority National Aeronautics and Space Administration Lockheed Martin
Los Alamos National Laboratory The Pentagon Verizon
John Hopkins University The Smithsonian Institution Fairmont Hotels
Cal Tech Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Four Seasons Hotels
The American Red Cross Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Westin Hotels
Dalhousie University Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Waste Management of Canada
Halifax Regional School Board Bank of Canada The Salvation Army

But perhaps the best indication that air purifiers can be effective in helping to remove allergens, toxins and odours from the air are testimonials from people who have purchased them:

Product Testimonials

“I am extremely pleased with my IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifier as I've a noticed a huge improvement in my allergies (sneezing and sinus congestion) and have gone months without having to take any medication for them. When I enter my apartment, the freshness of the air is immediately obvious.”   B. Mullins, Montreal, QC

“We bought a Blueair 603 air purifier from you last summer because my wife has asthma and is also allergic to numerous airborne substances. She really noticed a difference after the first day we had the air purifier in our home. The Blueair 603 isn’t cheap, but it is built very well and it is the first air cleaning unit that really works for my wife, so it has been an excellent investment.”   G Friedel, Edmonton, AB

“I purchased an Austin Air HealthMate HM-400 when my asthma, exacerbated by an ozone-emitting electrostatic air purifier in my bedroom, became difficult to control. I experienced instantaneous improvement in my asthma symptoms, and as an unsuspected bonus, am no longer waking up with a stuffy nose! As gifts for our loved ones, we purchased 3 more Austin Air HealthMate units. My mother, who has Pulmonary Fibrosis, now sleeps more comfortably in her home, and the stale smell in our adult son's bedroom is a thing of the past. My only regret is that I didn't research proper air purifier technology sooner.”   D. Brown, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

“I just wanted to let you know that the AllerAir AirMedic+ MCS D air purifier that I purchased from you a few weeks ago was a success! I've not slept this well at night in a long time. I've had the AllerAir running non-stop since I bought it, and it has really made all the difference. Thank you so much for recommending this unit to me, it’s incredible how much it has helped.”   M. Savoy, Montreal, QC

“We had some staining done while we were away and when we returned, the fellow who did the staining – an individual with 30+ years of experience – wanted to know about our IQAir MultiGas GC. He was shocked from one day to the next how much the smell had diminished.”   T. Daw, Peterborough, ON

“So far my Blueair 403 HEPASilent air purifier is working really well. I am almost off all allergy medication for my 2 kittens, and hopefully with some diligent cleaning, I can soon be completely medication free! It’s made a huge difference, and as promised, it is very quiet.”   K. Pettit, London, ON

“The Austin Air Pet Machine is the best air purifier I have used in my bird room, which contains 60 birds. Both my wife and I are allergic to bird dander, but we don’t want to give up the hobby we love so much. Thanks to the Austin Air Pet Machine, we don’t have to! There is no longer any dust in the room. Also, when our birds are breeding there are usually more odours from the nest boxes, but with the Austin Air Pet Machine running, you smell nothing but clean air.”   Steve Elich Aviaries (breeder of Cockatiels, Love Birds and Parrotlets), Brampton, ON

“The three AllerAir Pro 5 Ultra Vocarb UV air purifiers that we purchased from you are working beyond expectations, so we would like to order two more of the same. Our folks here are happy with how effective this unit is, as it really cuts down on the offensive chlorine smell from the wipes they are using.”   Major Ontario Hospital

“There’s no doubt that the IQAir HealthPro Plus is working hard in this open [office] space, as we all notice a huge difference in air quality whenever we have to go to another floor. We have the cleanest air in the entire building!”   M. Brunet, Ottawa, ON

“I absolutely love my two Blueair 203 HEPASilent air purifiers. I have had so many different kinds of air cleaners over the years, and in the end, they were all garbage. The Blueair machines are so quiet, I don't even know they're running. I have a new puppy and my allergies need to be kept in control; I know my allergist would be impressed. Thank you from one happy customer.”   H. Stepien, Toronto, ON

“The two AllerAir AirMedic+ Vocarb units that I purchased from you are working wonderfully. I’ve found that they have made a huge difference in my home and to my general well-being, especially the one in the basement where I work. What a difference. It has been the first winter in years that I haven't been sick from working there all day!”   J. Bauer, Montreal, QC

“This summer, when I moved into a recently-renovated house with my roommate and her two cats, I had no idea how badly I would react to the cats, the renovation, and the dust from all the boxes. I started wheezing like I hadn’t done in nearly a decade. I was miserable, and I finally took to wearing a dust mask at all times while in the house. We invested in two air purifiers (the Austin Air HealthMate and the Austin Air HealthMate Plus Jr. It’s now two months later, and I have been dust-mask free the whole time, and I don’t even feel stuffy-nosed most of the time. I feel a great deal healthier and much happier, and I would recommend Modern Alchemy and their line of purifiers to anyone who’s in a similar situation.”   E. Dowden, Ottawa, ON

See more air purifier testimonials

Whole-House Systems vs. Room Air Purifiers

Whole-house air purifiers are great choices for general air cleaning, and are perfect for homes with many smaller rooms, large open spaces or cathedral ceilings. Whole-house systems are also ideal for people who do not have the space for portable air purifiers in their individual rooms, for those who are sensitive to the noise generated by some room air purifiers, and for those who prefer their air cleaning system to be out-of-sight.

Whole-House air purifiers

While excellent for general air cleaning purposes, Modern Alchemy Air Purifiers does not recommend the use of whole-house air purifiers on a stand-alone basis for people with allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities or other health concerns. This is because whole-house air purification units rely on your HVAC system to draw the contaminated air from the house and deliver it to the air purifier, and these systems do not set up a strong enough current to pull large volumes of air from every corner of the house. As a result, the air purifier is unable to clean the air in the entire house to the degree required by those with medical conditions. Portable air purifiers are much more effective in these cases because they are capable of performing up to eight complete air exchanges per hour within a room (as opposed to the ½ or one air exchange per hour provided by even the best whole-house system).

The greater effectiveness of room air purifiers has been confirmed by several different sources. In a review of residential air cleaning devices, the American Lung Association concluded that a highly efficient room unit is more effective at removing pollutants in the room where it is located than a central filtration system. Consumer Reports also recommends a portable air purifier for cleaning the air in a room or several rooms, over a central system.

Modern Alchemy Air Purifiers has found that operating a whole-house air purification system in conjunction with room air purifiers is the ideal solution for many of our customers. By addressing specific air quality issues first with appropriate portable air purifiers in heavily-used rooms (e.g., bedrooms, living room), the rest of your home can then be easily maintained by the whole-house system. It’s also important to remember to clean your air ducts regularly to maintain the healthiest indoor air environment possible.

See our Whole-House Air Purifiers      See our Portable Room Air Purifiers

Despite their proven effectiveness, air purifiers are sometimes dismissed as novelty items or “gadgets” that are not very good at cleaning the air. Although this can be true of cheaper units, this is a misperception that can unfortunately dissuade people from purchasing an air purifier and experiencing the benefits. This misperception is perpetuated through several sources:

Consumer Magazines: The good, the bad, and sometimes… the inaccurate!

There have been many reviews and tests conducted on air purifiers by consumer magazines and websites over the last few years, resulting in a torrent of conflicting evidence as to the effectiveness of indoor air purification products in general. As a result, the average consumer has become confused as to whether or not to invest in an air purifier.

While reviews are a good place to start your research, they may only test one aspect of air cleaning (e.g., particle filtration), while totally ignoring other important factors that might pertain to an individual’s specific needs (e.g., chemical and odour control). One review we read was so concerned about the cost and features of the air purifiers they tested, that they totally missed the fact that the unit they “highly recommended” was one of the biggest producers of harmful ozone on the market!

More importantly perhaps, consumer buying guides often focus on cheaper units in the $150-$250 price range, thereby generating less than impressive test results and further contributing to the misperception that air purifiers are not effective.

More about substandard products and the Modern Alchemy Difference

The Manufacturers: The truth, the whole truth and…nothing but the truth?

The manufacturers themselves are often to blame by exaggerating performance claims or providing misleading technical information about their products. Even reputable manufacturers will sometimes over-state the maximum room size that their air purifiers can clean, leading consumers to purchase an under-powered unit or one that will never be operated on the necessary fan speed setting for the size of the room because it is too noisy. Manufacturers have even been known to state the air flow rates for their units without the filters installed!

The Retailer: “Yes, I think that this thing should be able to do something like that!”

Many problems associated with the effectiveness of air purifiers are generated by retailers whose salespeople and customer service reps know little about the products they are selling. Big-box retailers and stores whose main product lines are mattresses, vacuum cleaners or health foods/supplements are the main culprits here, with personnel whose knowledge is often restricted to the large print on the outside of the product packaging.

This lack of knowledge, coupled with the fact that many stores carry only one brand or type of air purifier, can result in a mismatch between a customer’s needs and the air purifier that is sold to them, fostering perceptions that air purifiers don't really work.

The Customer: “I need to change the filters? This thing has filters?”

Sometimes it’s the customer who propagates the bad word of mouth associated with air purifiers by not following the manufacturer’s recommended filter replacement or maintenance schedule, drastically reducing the air purifier’s effectiveness over time.

More importantly, by running an air purifier only occasionally or turning it off at night, they are not receiving the full benefits that the air purifier can provide. Air cleaning is not an ‘event’ like dusting or vacuuming. You cannot simply run the unit for a couple of hours and say “the room is clean.” An air purifier should be left on continuously to achieve the optimum benefits.

Air purifiers are as individual as the people who use them, with each unit having distinct advantages and disadvantages. In addition, units can use a multitude of air cleaning technologies (e.g., HEPA filtration, activated carbon, ultraviolet light, electrostatic, negative ion), sometimes in combination with each other. With such a wide range of choices, it’s no wonder that consumers are confused about what type/model/brand of air purifier is most effective for their needs. This is where Modern Alchemy Air Purifiers can help!.

Matching practical solutions to your concerns are what we
do best here at Modern Alchemy Air Purifiers.

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