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Will air purifiers really filter out spring pollen from your home?

Which ones work and which just make noise?
Colorado Springs fixer upper home
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 07:03:37-04

It's allergy season, and many of us are sneezing and dealing with runny noses as trees, flowers and grass all bloom.

So what can you do to clean the air around you? One solution is to buy an air purifier for your home, but a new study from Consumer Reports claims not all air purifiers are created equally.

John Hill just upgraded his filtration system in his home and says it was worth every dollar.

"It's been great," he said. "The kids are sleeping great. And as of right now they haven't had to take their allergy medicine yet."

Corey Liebrock of Apollo Home installed Hill's filter and says they really work.

"You know, one of the biggest things that people struggle with is pollen and dust," he said. "So this helps eliminate all of those issues when you upgrade to a static filter."

These days, you have so many options for filtering the air in your home, ranging from inexpensive portable units to whole-house systems that put an electrostatic filter and a UV light right into your home's AC ducts.

Caution about inexpensive modes

But before you buy a $30 room air filter at a discount store, buyer beware.

Tanya Christian is with Consumer Reports, which just tested several room air purifiers, and has a caution for shoppers.

"Based on our testing, you get what you pay for," she said. "Air purifiers tend to be pretty expensive, at least the good ones. "

They recently tested several room air purifiers. She says unless you can afford a high-end purifier, seek out an alternative.

"What we find is they (the cheaper ones) tend to be white noise machines. They make the sound that they're cleaning the air, but they really do not filter out the contaminants that you want out of the air," she said.

Top rated purifiers

Consumer Reports' top-rated portable air purifiers are the:

  • Allen BreatheSmart 75i Pure, but it is pricey at $749.
  • A less expensive model that got excellent ratings is the Blueair Blue Pure 211, for $299.

One alternative she suggests is what Corey Liebrock installed, a whole-home air purifier. They can cost from $500 to more than $1,000.

"When you put on your air conditioning, when you put on your heat, you will get it automatically filtered," she said. There is no unit to turn on and off.

But what about a quick fix, like a box fan with a towel hanging over it, a hack often promoted on social media?

"A paper towel? Not so much," Christian said. In that case, "we say you can open up your windows. You know, clean air coming in is a great alternative."

If you do decide to spend the cash, she says to remember that portable models need regular maintenance.

"Air purifiers are not the kind of device that you just buy it and you leave it and everything's good. These require changing the filter, typically every six months to a year," she said.

That way you don't waste your money.

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