Are There Any Side Effects of Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers are one of the most valuable devices that you can get for your living space. Aside from making the air free from harmful particles, they also eliminate foul odors. However, with its long list of benefits, you might wonder if these cleaning devices have side effects.

Air purifiers have several side effects despite being very effective at making the air healthy for inhalation. Adverse effects of these devices include being less environmental-friendly and not being as effective as a standalone product. In addition, some air purifiers give off ozone as a byproduct that could cause cancer. 

With this, it’s clear that air cleaning devices have some costly adverse effects. Therefore, this post delves into the negative and positive aspects of using air cleaners. Here, you’ll also learn the best methods to manage your air-cleaning devices and make the best out of each one.

What Are the Adverse Side Effects of Air Purifiers?

Before I launch into the bad sides of using air purifiers, you should understand how these devices operate. 

As their name states, air cleaners purify the air, removing harmful pollutants that could destroy your health. These devices operate in several modes depending on their type. In addition, you’ll find air purifiers with different filters that perform unique functions. 

Others don’t operate with filters but instead release charged particles into the air to battle other dangerous particles. Some filters utilize the Ultraviolet ray to eliminate harmful bacteria and render viruses inactive.

Below are the main types of air-purifying devices based on their functions:

  • HEPA air purifiers
  • Purifiers with activated carbon filter
  • Air ionizers
  • UV air cleaners 

Below, I’ve provided an in-depth explanation of each kind of filter, its pros, and why you shouldn’t use them.

HEPA Air Purifiers

These air cleaners are one of the most common options for homes and workplaces. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, signifying they could capture tiny-sized dirt as small as 0.3 microns.

HEPA purifiers work by dragging in polluted air through their vents. Afterwards, it passed the air through HEPA filters to trap the dirt before releasing it back into the atmosphere. Once that’s done, it repeats the process until the room’s air is completely clean. 

True HEPA cleaners worked perfectly well till similar technologies came into the scene. Unfortunately, most of these air-cleaning devices claimed to use the HEPA technology when they didn’t. As a result, several buyers become confused about the merchandise they’re purchasing.

Now, when you want to obtain a HEPA air purifier, you have to be 100% sure that you’re buying the real deal and not a copycat. 

Still, despite being effective, HEPA filters have long-term effects. These filters don’t decompose quickly. As a result, they could remain in the same condition for hundreds of years.

Additionally, it’s impossible to recycle them, making them harmful to the environment. Since they cannot degrade quickly, the dirt they trap remains stuck in its chambers. If they are not well maintained, these trapped dirt escapes back into the air.

To prevent this scenario, you have to maintain your HEPA filters properly.

Purifiers with Carbon Filters

Activated carbon works by using the adsorption process. It’s vital to note that this isn’t the same as absorption. Both terms seem alike, but there’s a slight difference.

In absorption, the material sucks up the substance. For instance, you use a sponge to absorb water. The sponge and the water don’t mix; the sponge only sucks the water into the space it has.

On the other hand, adsorption allows the substances to stick to their surface. Thus, when air passes through these cleaners, the dirt adheres to the filters, and the air comes out clean.

With this, it’s a convenient option for trapping dirt that could cause allergy or increase asthma symptoms. Despite its effectiveness, it has disadvantages.

One problem with the filters is that the carbon bed absorbing these elements becomes full over time. In some cases, dirt particles with a higher affinity for carbon displace those with lesser affinity. As a result, the air cleaner begins to release dirt back into the environment once it’s old.

At this point, you might notice a strange odor, signifying that it needs to be changed. Plus, the cleaning device might not last long compared to its counterparts. 

Thus, it’s not advisable to purchase these devices as a standalone product. Instead, buy and use them alongside HEPA air cleaning devices for better results.

Air Ionizers

Air Ionizers are purifiers that don’t use the regular filter as their counterparts. Instead, they optimize the ionization technology to battle air contaminants.

To function, they release negatively charged particles into the atmosphere of the space they’re confined in. These particles make their way into the polluted area and attach themselves to positive dirt ions. Once both ions come together, the result is a dense particle unable to float. 

Since they’re no longer light enough to remain in the air, they fall to the ground or on other surfaces. So, when you’re cleaning, you pick up these particles without even knowing it. 

Though functional, these devices could pose a danger to health. However, if you think that it’s probably the negative ions that are the problem, you’re wrong. On the contrary, negative ions do good to your body system.

Inhaling these ions can help you get rid of stress symptoms and relax your muscles. They’re also effective at improving moods and increasing energy levels. 

However, some of these air-purifying ionizers generate ozone as a byproduct which is extremely dangerous to the human system. In the long run, they could result in lung infections, amongst other things. It’s even worse if you’re prone to infections, which could worsen your symptoms.

They also don’t eliminate pollutants the way HEPA filters do. In most cases, the particles which fall to the ground could be stirred up again and inhaled. 

UV Air Cleaners

Ultraviolet light is an electromagnetic light that you can’t see with your naked eyes. These rays are harmful when a person is exposed to them. 

UV rays are classified into three depending on their wavelength. There’s UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-C has the shortest wavelength, making them the strongest of the three types. As a result, they’re the most effective for destroying microbes and other viruses. 

The problem with these rays is that they can be dangerous. Since they’re the strongest, they emit ozone which, as mentioned earlier, is very harmful to humans. So even if the device releases these gases in small quantities, it’ll still have negative effects after a long time.

It’s a bad idea to purchase purifiers that use only UV light to kill germs. Instead, opt for air-cleaning devices that combine this technology with another.

How Do I Prevent the Downsides of an Air Purifier?

The best way to put your air cleaner to good use is to maintain them. With the right kind of maintenance, you’ll be able to prevent some of its adverse effects.

How Do I Maintain an Air Purifier?

The main component that needs regular maintenance in an air purifier is its filters. Below are detailed explanations of how to go about the cleaning of different filter types:


Pre-filters are essential components in a purifying system and must be maintained regularly. These filters remove larger particles, unlike HEPA  eliminates smaller contaminants. They work hand-in-hand with HEPA filters to clear the air of harmful substances.

The type of pre-filter you’ll find in your device depends on your purchase model. Nonetheless, their cleaning method is the same. You can take these filters out and wash them with water and little soap. If the filter is damaged or faulty, you should replace them.

HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are designed to remove even the tiniest of contaminants. It has tiny fibers that aid this function. Unfortunately, they’re quite expensive compared to other filter types of this quality.

As a result of its cost, it might not be convenient for you to change these filters regularly. The best move is to prolong their lifespan by maintaining them. Maintenance is easy; you only need to wash them after using them for a while.

If you don’t want to wash, you can check to ensure no particles are blocking them. If there are, wipe them off with a dry clean cloth. 

Carbon Filters

Aside from HEPA filters, these are other types that air purifying devices use to function. These filters are productions from activated carbon chunks that are effective for trapping chemicals and bad smells. You’ll find different variants of these filters depending on their purpose and densities.

For instance, smaller places don’t need powerful purifiers; instead, they use a simple air cleaner that utilizes activated carbon. On the other hand, you’ll want to get a large air cleaner for wider spaces so that they can function perfectly. In other words, your cleaning device should have larger carbon filters to perform better in broad areas. 

The thickness of these filters also varies depending on their purpose. For example, more carbon is present in bigger purifiers than smaller ones. 

Whichever type of filter you’re using, you’ll have to check on them regularly to ensure they’re still active. If you notice dirt, wipe them off with a clean cloth. Additionally, you can wash the filters often to remove any particles preventing their function.

Air Ionizers

Before cleaning the air ionizer, always unplug it from the electrical outlet. If your ionizer begins to generate crackling sounds, this indicates that an excessive amount of static charge has accumulated. Also, don’t place the ionizer on metal surfaces to prevent the crackling sounds and electric shocks.

Wipe the appliance with a slightly damp towel paying specific attention to the carbon brush in the device. Wipe it at least once every month. If the brush is stiff and sticky with dirt, you can dissolve the dirt with mild soap. 

Ensure that you wipe off all soap residue and allow the carbon brush to dry. Once dry, you can plug the device and have it functioning again.

Never submerge or rinse the air ionizer in water or any other liquid. Furthermore, don’t insert any external object when replacing the carbon brush.  

UV Air Purifiers

Unlike HEPA and Carbon air cleaners, these purifiers don’t use filters to clean the atmosphere. Instead, it destroys germs using the ultraviolet ray bulbs before pumping them back into the room. 

In other words, it has no filter that necessitates cleaning or changing. Instead, you’ll have to change the UV light bulbs once in a few years. This quality makes it one of the most-effective options.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Air Filters

Below are a few tips that can aid your cleaning process:

Avoid Using Detergents To Clean Air Purifier Filters

The air filters in air purifiers are constructed of delicate material and should be handled with extreme caution. When cleaning the filters, avoid the use of detergents and similar products.

This can wreak havoc on the filters and obstruct the filtration process. So instead, always clean the filters using the appropriate cleaners explicitly made for that purpose.

Don’t Wash Them Often

Avoid daily washing of the HEPA and carbon filters, as these are permanent filters that require cleaning every three months. Rather than cleaning, you can inspect their operation and replace them regularly to ensure they’re in top shape. Even when you want to wash them, avoid using machines. 

Always Use a Dry Cloth

Air cleaning devices use electricity to work. Therefore, when cleaning the filters, always use a dry cloth. The cloth shouldn’t be damp, nor should you use a spray when cleaning.

This ensures that you don’t conduct electricity, harming yourself in the process. Aside from this, ensure the device is off before you clean the filters.

How to Choose the Best Air Purifier

When you choose to have an air purifier in your home, it’s critical to consider every filter. Though each one has its benefits, there are also drawbacks, as stated above. Considering these downsides will help you decide on which air purifier is best. 

Other things you should consider are:

  • Where you want to set up the device
  • The air purification rate
  • Your budget