Matching Your Air Purifier by Type of Pollutant

Different pollutants require different treatment, and while it’s possible to find an air purifier that will treat a combination of pollutants it’s hard to find one that treats them all. Then, even if there was one such air purifier, it’s probably better to go for air purifiers that treats a specific range of pollutants.

So here is a brief look at common odors and pollutants in household air and which air purifiers are best at removing them.


smokeThis is one of the hardest pollutants to effectively remove, so you will need an air purifier that has two filters to effectively do the job. Try to find a machine with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter on the interior (excellent at trapping fine smoke particles) and a carbon pre-filter as a first line of defense in the machine’s guts. HEPA filters have the highest federal rating for grabbing fine particles out of the air. The technology comes out of the nuclear industry, which wanted to keep nuclear “dust” off living things. The carbon filters sometimes come with baking soda embedded in them, a third layer of odor absorption that is handy for smoke removal.


This pollutant also requires a two-filter approach. Fortunately, dust particles are large enough that HEPA filters can capture almost all of them (up to 99.97%!).

Mold and mildew

Other than employing a dehumidifier, look for an air purifier that has UV lighting to kill bacterial and mold spores before they grow and spread. You will need to put the air purifier near to problem areas for these lights to have an impact. Many who use purifiers with UV lighting place them near cooling coils, ducts and other places where mold likes to grow. Ozone generators also can be effective at charging mold molecules and eliminating them.

Dust mites

These creatures and their feces (the true allergens at work in this case) are too small to be captured by even the best of filters. They will be best attacked by ionizers and ozone generators that will combine them with other molecules and cause them to drop to the ground. There, they need to be vacuumed up on a regular basis. No filter can consistently trap these microscopic pests.

Pet dander and other allergens

Similar to the best purifiers that eliminate smoke, look for a purifier with two filters. The key is to get these very large particles into the air and drawn to the purifier as air circulates. Ionizers are ineffective with these heavy molecules.

Chemical odors and fumes

Most chemical fumes should not hang around for any length of time. That’s why an exhaust fan is the best solution to eliminating these pollutants. Keep a strong exhaust fan near your work bench and range to get these odors out before they can make someone ill.