For many years now, air purifiers have been heralded as effective tools for relief from out-of-control allergy symptoms, asthma conditions, and chemical sensitivities. Working alongside allergy medications, immunotherapy, and respiratory inhalers, these filtration appliances—also known as air cleaners—help keep our homes and workplaces free of airborne allergens, particles, and harmful chemical pollutants. Yet, while air cleaners will probably always remain staples for allergy and asthma relief, some models are taking on a new indication as filtration technology grows more advanced.
In recent months, a new wave of germicidal air purifiers has hit the market – with each model boasting internal components and processes designed to not only remove allergens but destroy cold- and flu-causing germs. These units use materials and technologies such as ultraviolet light, natural silver, and sterilizing heat to eliminate airborne pathogens from your space. Many have been independently tested and proven effective against germs that can cause influenza, colds, strep throat, staph infections, and even tuberculosis. The result is a home or workspace that is both free of symptom-triggering allergens and illness-causing germs.
Here is a sampling of germicidal air purifiers designed to create a healthier environment that is kinder to your immune system.
Ultraviolet Air Purifiers
An ultraviolet air purifier—sometimes called an air sanitizer—uses an internal UV-C germicidal light to kill airborne bacteria, viruses, germs, and allergens as room air moves through the system. The natural ultraviolet light eliminates these pathogens by breaking down their DNA structures and deactivating their reproductive capabilities. As a result, germs and allergens cannot reproduce and quickly die off. After UV light treatment is complete, clean air is returned to your environment and the process repeats.
Ultraviolet air purifiers are safe to use because their UV light bulbs are permanently contained inside the air purifier housing. The only time you'll have to access them is during bulb replacement, which requires you to shut off the unit. In addition, most models are equipped with long-life UV bulbs, which make replacement tasks less frequent.
Sylvane carries a number of reliable, germ-zapping UV air cleaners, including these recommended models:
- Germ Guardian air purifiers and UV-C air sanitizers have been proven effective in killing more than 99% of airborne germs. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, an independent third-party testing lab, found that the company's UV-C technology kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses that may cause influenza-A, staph, pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and meningitis.
Larger systems like the Germ Guardian AC5000 HEPA Air Purifier feature pre-filters, carbon filters, and HEPA filters, in addition to UV-C light, to further facilitate allergen and odor removal. Smaller air sanitizers, such as the Germ Guardian Pluggable Air Sanitizer and the Germ Guardian UV-C Room Air Sanitizer, use a single UV bulb to treat the air in tighter spaces.
- The Airpura UV600 addresses a host of air quality issues including airborne allergens, smoke odors, chemical fumes, and disease-causing pathogens. The system is equipped with a 17-in. u-shaped germicidal UV lamp that is twice the length of conventional UV lights. Twice the length translates into twice the effectiveness against airborne germs. The UV lamp works alongside a 40-square-foot HEPA filter, an 18-pound carbon filter, and a 570-square-inch particle pre-filter to give your indoor air a truly thorough clean. Another benefit? The UV600 is one of the most environmentally friendly air cleaners on the market.
Silver-Infused Air Filters
Silver, a natural antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent, is beginning to make its benefits known across the air purifier industry. According to research conducted by Science Daily, silver nanoparticles have a range of negative effects on virus strains and bacteria. Silver can, for example, attack a cell membrane, suppress a cell's nutrient transport, and interfere with cell division—actions that ultimately hinder the reproduction of germs. Another study published in the Journal of Nanotechnology determined that silver nanoparticles effectively kill the HIV-1 virus and are likely to kill previously untreatable viruses such as the avian flu.
Relying on this extraordinary power, some manufacturers, including air purifier giants Alen and Rabbit Air, have introduced silver-infused air filters for use with their units.
- Alen VirusHEPA Filters are coated with silver and can kill up to 98% of airborne allergens and bacteria and up to 50% of airborne viruses that cause the seasonal flu. Testing by the Guangdong Detection Centre of Microbiology in China, an independent testing institution for the detection of antimicrobial properties in antimicrobial-labeled products, confirms these results.
VirusHEPA Filters are available for most of Alen's air cleaners, including the Alen A350, Alen A375UV, Alen T300, and Alen T100 air purifiers. Inside each unit, the silver-infused filter is installed behind the standard HEPA filter to serve as a final barrier to viruses and bacteria. Both the A375UV and T300 units also include ultraviolet lamps for added germ protection.
- Rabbit Air purifiers are well-known for their ability to clear out allergens, odors, dust, and bacteria with multi-stage filtration. It may be little known, but Rabbit Air BioGS air cleaners also feature filters with an anti-flu coating and antimicrobial protection. The coating is composed of a special anti-influenza agent that has been proven to lower the viral infectivity of certainairborne flu viruses – particularly the H3N2 virus, a strain similar to avian flu.
Rabbit Air Minus 2 air purifiers offer you the option to customize air filtration based on the air quality issue you want to address. Coupled with the standard anti-bacterial pre-filter found in every Minus 2 unit, the Germ Defense Customized Filter destroys mold, viruses, and bacteria such as Legionella.
Unlike ultraviolet and silver-infused air purifiers, air sterilizers use heat to destroy airborne allergens, germs, and other microorganisms. During operation, these systems pull your room air into an extremely hot sterilization chamber where the temperature gets as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As air passes through the chamber, the powerful heat incinerates allergens, such as dust mites, mold, pollen, and ragweed, as well as bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens. Clean air is then cooled to a comfortable temperature and released back into your environment.
Along with the key benefit of eliminating nearly 100% of airborne pathogens, air sterilizers also carry the benefit of less maintenance. Because these units do not use filters to remove particles and germs, you'll never know the hassle of air filter replacement—and cost, for that matter. No replacement parts are needed, and most air sterilizers are also equipped with cool-to-the-touch housing to keep you safe from heat injuries.
- AirFree air sterilizer units are capable of killing 99.99% of microorganisms, including the avian flu and SARS, using a patented Thermodynamic Sterilizing System (TSS). Upon entering an AirFree air purifier, air travels into a ceramic sterilizing cylinder where it is heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or triple the temperature needed to destroy any virus. After viruses, allergens, germs, bacteria, and other particles are destroyed by the heat; the air is cooled and released back into your room. AirFree's TSS process has been independently evaluated by numerous world-renowned ISO/IES 17025 testing laboratories. All the labs confirmed that the technology was 99.99% effective in destroying microorganisms.
Nothing can replace basic healthy living habits as a method of warding off germs and illnesses. Actions such as washing hands, covering your mouth when you cough, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly can help keep your immune system in tiptop shape. Germicidal air purifiers can supplement these activities and help you enjoy a healthier environment and life.
Disclaimer: Please note that the air purifiers listed in this article do not replace the need for practicing healthy living habits on a regular basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), actions such as washing hands with soap and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze can drastically reduce the spread of airborne germs. Germicidal air purifiers should only be used as a supplement to regular healthy living practices. For more information about healthy living, visit the CDC's Healthy Living page.
Still Have Questions?
For more information on a specific air purifier or other air treatment solutions, browse our products and visit our Knowledge Center. Not sure what's best for you? We can take the guesswork out of decision-making. Contact one of our air treatment specialists at 1-800-934-9194. We want to help make your indoor environment healthy and comfortable.