Breathe in deeply.

Did you know that the air you just breathed in could have harmful particles in it, like mold? If you have an air purifier or are thinking about getting one, it’s important to know how important mold is as a contaminant in the air.

Not only can it make it hard to breathe, but it can also damage your home’s structure.

In this article, I’ll talk about mold and how an air purifier can help keep you and your family safe from its harmful effects.

So, let’s stop talking and get going!

Airborne Contaminants and Health

Airborne contaminants are things that can be found in the air and that people can breathe in.

They can be gases, vapors, aerosols, dusts, sprays, mists, fumes, or smokes.

Particularly worrisome are airborne contaminants, which have been linked to widespread occupational lung diseases and systemic poisonings like lead poisoning, especially at higher levels of exposure.

Particulate diseases like cancer, asthma, allergic alveolitis, and irritation, as well as a wide range of illnesses that can happen at much lower exposure levels, are also getting more attention.

Examples of Airborne Contaminants

Carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, particle pollution, sulfur oxides, asbestos, benzene, creosote, fuel oils/kerosene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), synthetic vitreous fibers, microorganisms, and other biological contaminants are all examples of airborne contaminants.

  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death at high levels of exposure.
  • Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, especially in children.
  • Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
  • Microorganisms and other biological contaminants include viruses, fungi, mold, bacteria, nematodes, amoeba, pollen, dander, and mites.

Sources of Exposure

Airborne contaminants can be found in many places, including the workplace, the home, and the outdoors.

  • Occupational exposure to airborne contaminants is a significant concern, as it can lead to occupational diseases, temporary and permanent disabilities, and deaths.
  • In the home, exposure to airborne contaminants can occur due to poor ventilation, smoking, and the use of certain household products.
  • Outdoor exposure to airborne contaminants can occur due to pollution from vehicles, factories, and other sources.

Health Effects

Airborne pollutants can hurt people’s health in a big way.

Oxidative stress and inflammation in human cells are linked to being exposed to air pollution.

This may set the stage for chronic diseases and cancer.

Pollutants in the air are known or thought to cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious problems.

Heavy metals like mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like pesticides and DDT are examples of things that are bad for the air.

These airborne pollutants are especially dangerous because they stay in the environment for a long time and don’t break down.

They can also build up in the tissues of living things and make them sick.

  • Airborne particulate matter is one of the main air pollutants that can have a significant impact on human health.
  • Most of the health effects of airborne particulate matter have been known for many years.
  • Long-term exposure to airborne particles can lead to respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Increases in asthma prevalence and severity are linked to urbanization and outdoor air pollution.


It is best to stay away from places with a lot of air pollution, especially during peak pollution times, so you don’t get sick from breathing in harmful particles in the air.

Many of these pollutants can be found in the air where people live, but they can also be found in the water or in the fish that live in waterways, streams, rivers, and lakes where these pollutants settle.

Airborne contaminants are very dangerous to people’s health, and they can be found in many places.

To avoid the bad health effects these contaminants can have, it’s important to take steps to keep away from them.

HEPA Filters: Function and Efficacy

Air Purifiers and HEPA Filters: Understanding Airborne Contaminants

Dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and viruses that are in the air can be very bad for your health, especially if you have allergies or breathing problems.

HEPA filters are a type of air filter that are often used in air purifiers, vacuum cleaners, and air handling units to remove these things from the air.

What is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air” filter.

HEPA filters are made of either plastic or fiberglass.

They are made up of intertwined fibers with a diameter of less than 1 micron that are twisted and turned in different directions to make a “fibrous maze.” Theoretically, these filters can get rid of at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any other airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.

This makes them very good at catching ultrafine pollutants like viruses and bacteria.

How Do HEPA Filters Work?

Particles get caught in the filter’s fibers as air moves through it, which is how HEPA filters work.

There are two ways for them to clean the air.

The first is one or more outer filters that work like sieves to stop dirt, dust, and hair that is bigger than the holes.

The second part is a “contraption” made of what looks like folded paper.

The outer gauze “pre-filter” can make the inner HEPA filter last much longer.

Particles get caught in HEPA filters in three ways: by diffusion, by being caught, and by the force of the particle’s motion.

Brownian Motion makes tiny particles move in a zigzag pattern, which leads to diffusion when the particles get stuck in the maze-like fibers of HEPA.

Interception happens when an airborne particle comes within the radius of one particle of a HEPA fiber and gets caught by the fiber.

The particle is then trapped in the filter.

Inertial Impaction happens when larger particles are pulled through the filter and hit HEPA fibers.

This traps the larger particles.

Benefits of HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are very good at catching small allergens and asthma triggers like pollen and house dust mite feces.

This makes them helpful for people with asthma and allergies.

They are also good at getting rid of very small pollutants like viruses and bacteria.

HEPA filters have to meet strict standards.

In Europe, they have to get rid of 99.95% of particles, and in the US, they have to get rid of 99.97% of particles.

Most hospitals use them, and sometimes they are called “medical-grade HEPA filters.” H13 HEPA filters are an advanced type of HEPA filter that can get rid of even smaller particles that are only 0.1 microns in size.

Using HEPA Filters in Air Purifiers

Air purifiers often use HEPA filters to catch small particles like dust, pollen, and pet hair.

Air purifiers may have HEPA filters and carbon pre-filters that need to be changed every 3 months.

Permanent filters don’t need to be changed, but they should be cleaned every so often to get rid of any dust that has built up.

Air purifier filters need to be changed often because over time, the particles that get caught in the filter can build up and make the air purifier less effective.

How long a HEPA filter lasts depends on the type of filter, the air quality, and the environment.

As a general rule, HEPA filters that can be changed should be changed every 6 to 12 months.

However, some filters may last longer or shorter, depending on how often they are used.

It’s important to replace the filter the way the manufacturer tells you to.

HEPA Filter Maintenance

HEPA Filters: What Are They and How Do They Work?

High-efficiency particulate air filters, or HEPA filters, are made to remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or bigger.

Dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and other particulate pollutants are some of these particles.

HEPA filters are made of a dense mat of fibers that are arranged in a way that makes it hard for particles to pass through.

The particles are then taken out of the air, leaving clean air behind.

HEPA filters are used in places like hospitals, cleanrooms, offices, classrooms, and homes to clean the air and keep germs from floating through the air.

Mold, pollen, dust, and pet dander are all things that can cause breathing problems for some people.

But it’s important to keep in mind that HEPA filters aren’t made to get rid of gaseous pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Limitations of HEPA Filters

Even though HEPA filters are very good at removing small particles of pollution from the air, they are not perfect.

HEPA filters are mechanical filters that meet a certain standard for removing air pollution, but they are not enough to get rid of gaseous pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are organic chemicals that can be given off as gases by paints, cleaning products, and building materials, among other things.

These gases can make you sick and hurt your eyes, nose, and throat.

They can also give you headaches and make you feel sick.

To get rid of gaseous pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), air cleaners need to use extra methods like activated carbon filters or photocatalytic oxidation.

Gaseous pollutants can get stuck in the pores of activated carbon filters, which is how they work.

Photocatalytic oxidation uses UV light to break down gaseous pollutants into harmless compounds.

Air purifiers are an effective way to improve indoor air quality and prevent airborne contamination.

HEPA filters are very good at getting rid of small particles of pollution.

Air Purifiers and Indoor Air Quality

Air Purifiers: Types and Pros/Cons

Air purifiers are essential for keeping the air in your home clean, especially for people with allergies or breathing problems.

While HEPA filters are the most effective type of air purifier and are recommended by the US Department of Health, there are other types of air filters available that may be better suited for specific needs.

Here are some of the most common types of air filters and their pros and cons:

Ionic filters: These purifiers work by producing negatively charged ions that attach to positively charged airborne particles and cause them to fall out of the air.

Pros: They don’t need new filters and can get rid of some smells in the air.

Cons: They generate ozone, which can be harmful to individuals with respiratory problems and may produce a noticeable odor.

Carbon filters: These filters use activated carbon to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases, and odors from the air.

Pros: They can remove unpleasant odors from the air and are effective at removing VOCs.

Cons: They don’t get rid of particles in the air and may need to be changed more often than other types of filters.

UV light filters: These purifiers kill bacteria and viruses by shining UV light on them.

Pros: They can kill pathogens in the air very well.

Cons: They aren’t as good at getting rid of dust, and you have to replace the bulbs.

Electrostatic filters: Particles are drawn to and caught in these filters by an electric charge.

Pros: They do a good job of getting dust out of the air and don’t make ozone.

Cons: They can have a strong smell and may need to be cleaned often.

These filters can be cleaned and used again, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.

Pros: They are reusable and do not need to be replaced as often as other filter types.

Cons: They may not be as good at removing dust from the air, and they need to be cleaned regularly.

Media filters: These filters use a dense layer of material to trap particles.

Pros: They do a good job of getting dust out of the air and don’t make ozone.

Cons: They might need to be changed more often than other types of filters.

Spun glass filters: These filters use a thin layer of spun glass fibers to trap particles.

They are cheap and work well to get rid of larger particles in the air.

Cons: They might not be as good at getting rid of smaller particles and might need to be changed more often than other types of filters.

Pleated filters have a large amount of surface area and can catch a lot of particles.

Pros: They are effective at removing particles from the air and may only need to be replaced once or twice a year.

Cons: They might be more expensive than other types of filters and might not fit all air purifiers.

Choosing an Air Purifier

When choosing an air purifier, it’s important to think about what the user needs and what kind of air pollutants they want to get rid of.

HEPA filters and activated carbon are suitable options for eliminating allergens and gases from the air.

When choosing an air purifier, people should also think about how long the warranty is and how fast it can clean the air.

Testing Air Purifier Effectiveness

It can be hard to tell if an air purifier is really doing its job.

But there are a few ways to tell if an air purifier is doing its job right.

One way is to check the flow of air.

A working air purifier has a clear, steady flow of air.

If the purifier doesn’t blow out air or makes a lot of noise, it may not be working right.

Another way to test if an air purifier is working is to check the filter.

If the filter looks dirty or clogged, it means that it has caught particles from the air and is doing its job well.

However, if the filter looks clean, it may be an indication that the purifier is not working properly.

Another way to see if an air purifier is doing its job is to use an indoor air quality meter.

These devices measure the pollutants in the air inside and give a report on the overall quality of the air.

If the air purifier is not working properly, the indoor air quality meter will be able to detect changes in air quality.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

There are other ways to improve the quality of the air inside besides using an air purifier with a HEPA filter.

One way is to control pollution at its source, which means getting rid of or reducing each source of pollution.

For example, using natural cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals, avoiding smoking indoors, and properly storing household chemicals can reduce indoor air pollution.

A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter that is used regularly to clean bedding, drapes, and carpets can also help.

Increasing ventilation is another way to improve indoor air quality.

This can be done by opening windows and doors, using exhaust fans that send their air outside, using window fans, or running window air conditioners with the vent control open.

Solar and electric heating can also keep the air inside cleaner than other types of heating.

Having houseplants around can also help clean the air in your home.

If you are worried about pollution in your home, testing the air quality can also give you peace of mind.

There are also portable HEPA-equipped air cleaners that are AHAM verified and/or CARB certified that can be used to increase filtration.

Also, you should change your filters often, especially if you have a forced-air heating system.

Lastly, talking to a healthcare provider can help you figure out what steps to take to improve the quality of the air inside, especially if you have a long-term health condition.


In conclusion, airborne contaminants such as mold can have a significant impact on our health and well-being.

Investing in an air purifier can be a great way to reduce your exposure to these harmful substances.

But it’s important to keep in mind that an air purifier isn’t a cure-all.

Still, it’s important to figure out why the mold is growing and take steps to stop it from happening again.

Also, it’s important to think about how using an air purifier affects the environment.

Even though it may improve the quality of the air inside, it also uses energy and resources.

It’s important to think about the pros and cons and make a decision based on that information.

In the end, whether or not to buy an air purifier should depend on each person’s needs and situation.

But one thing is certain: if we take steps to improve the air quality inside, it can be good for our health and well-being.

So, let’s do something to make the world a healthier and cleaner place!

Links and references

  1. “Indoor Air Quality: Sampling Methodologies” by Kathleen Hess-Kosa
  2. “Indoor Air Quality Handbook” by John D. Spengler, Jonathan M. Samet, and John F. McCarthy
  3. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide on indoor air quality
  4. World Health Organization (WHO) guide on indoor air quality