Do you ever feel like you have to fight for every breath you take? Airborne irritants can be hard for people with asthma to deal with every day, which can lower their quality of life.

From pollen to pet dander, these tiny particles can make it hard to breathe for people with asthma.

But don’t worry, there’s a way out! People who want to improve the quality of the air inside their homes and get rid of irritants in the air often use air purifiers.

In this article, I’ll talk about irritants in the air and how air purifiers can make it easier for you to breathe.

So sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s start!

Airborne Irritants and Air Purifiers

Types of Airborne Irritants

There are irritants in the air we breathe, and some jobs may put people in contact with substances that can irritate the lungs.

Fine particles in the air are called “particulate matter,” and they can be made up of different things like ash, soot, dust, soil, or dirt.

Fine particles like these can bother the lungs and are easy to breathe in.

There are also substances in air pollution that are harmful to the respiratory system.

Being exposed to certain pollutants can cause asthma attacks because they make the lining and receptors in a person’s airways red and irritated.

Lung irritants can cause inflammation or other bad effects in the respiratory system, making it harder to breathe and causing coughing and wheezing, among other symptoms.

Sinusitis, which is an inflammation of the sinuses, can also be caused by irritants in the air.

Sinusitis caused by airborne irritants is a type of sinusitis that usually happens at work and can be caused by irritating dust and chemical vapors, which are small particles in the air.

When you breathe in irritants in the air, they can irritate the mucosal membranes in your nose, sinuses, and throat.

This can cause inflammation.

Effects of Airborne Irritants on the Respiratory System

Irritants in the air can cause asthma symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and a persistent cough.

Airborne irritants are different from allergens because they don’t cause the immune system to react.

Instead, they irritate airways that are already inflamed.

Smoke and dust in the air can be as small as 0.01 m to 0.001 m, which makes it hard for people with asthma to stay away from them.

Emphysema is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe.

The main cause is long-term exposure to irritants in the air, such as tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust.

Emphysema can also be caused by breathing in fumes or dust at work.

Protecting Yourself from Airborne Irritants

If you know what asthma triggers are in your home, at work, and other places, you can find ways to avoid them and lower your risk of having breathing problems.

People can protect themselves and their families from high particle pollution levels by checking daily air pollution forecasts on TV, radio, online, and in newspapers.

When pollution levels are high, it’s important for people with asthma to carefully follow their asthma management plan.

Here are some ways to avoid getting sick from things in the air:

  • Use an air purifier: An air purifier can help remove airborne irritants from your home or office. Look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter, which can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns.
  • Keep your home clean: Regularly clean your home to remove dust and other irritants. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap dust and other particles.
  • Avoid smoking: If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Wear a mask: If you work in an environment with airborne irritants, wear a mask to protect your lungs.
  • Check air quality: Check the air quality in your area and avoid going outside on days when pollution levels are high.

Irritants in the air can hurt your respiratory system by causing inflammation and other bad things to happen.

You can lower your chances of having breathing problems if you know the risks and take steps to protect yourself.

To protect yourself from irritants in the air, use an air purifier, keep your home clean, don’t smoke, wear a mask, and check the air quality.

Sources of Airborne Irritants and Air Purifiers

Airborne Irritants: Sources and Health Risks

Irritants in the air can come from both inside and outside.

Indoor irritants can include cleaning products with certain chemicals, dust mites, secondhand smoke, and organic dust like molds, pollens, bacteria, animal feed, and bedding particles.

Fumes, vapors, and gases can also be irritants in the workplace.

These can come from pesticides or chemical products like paints or cleaning products.

Some of the things that can bother you outside are the weather, air pollution, pollen, and fine dust from construction and demolition sites.

Fine particulate matter, also called PM2.5 particles, are small enough that they can get stuck in lung tissue and cause diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

PM2.5 particles can come from things like pet dander, dust mites, bacteria, and dust from building sites and demolitions.

The EPA has called six pollutants “criteria air pollutants” because it sets limits for them based on how they affect people’s health and/or the environment.

Carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also called “particulate matter”), and sulfur oxides are the six pollutants.

Air Purifiers: How They Work and Their Benefits

Air purifiers can help with airborne irritants by cleaning the air we breathe of allergens and other pollutants.

Air purifiers work by sucking in air from the room and sending it through one or more stages of filtration, where airborne irritants are caught in a filter and clean air is sent back into the room.

The best air purifiers have more than one filter and can get rid of particles as small as 0.3 m.

They usually have a HEPA filter and a charcoal-activated filter.

Allergens like pollen, pet hair, and dust can be caught by air purifiers.

Since allergens cause allergies, air purifiers are often recommended as a part of improving the environment for people with allergic respiratory disease.

A nurse consultant at the Midlands Allergy Service in the UK said that some of these allergen particles can be caught by air purifiers.

Air purifiers can help allergy symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes by getting rid of these irritants from the air.

Air Purifiers and COVID-19

It is important to remember that air purifiers are not the only way to protect against COVID-19. However, when used correctly, they can help reduce airborne contaminants, such as viruses, in a home or a small space. Using an air purifier can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family when combined with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Irritants in the air can cause allergies and diseases of the lungs.

By getting rid of allergens and other pollutants from the air, air purifiers can help ease these symptoms.

Even though air purifiers are not the only way to protect against COVID-19, when used correctly, they can help reduce airborne contaminants.

HEPA Filters in Air Purifiers

Understanding Airborne Irritants and the Benefits of HEPA Filters

Airborne irritants are particles that float in the air and can cause breathing problems, allergies, and other health problems.

Some of these irritants are dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses, and smoke.

There are ways to cut down on these irritants in the air, and one of the best is to use HEPA filters.

What is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air,” and a HEPA filter is a type of air filter that can get rid of at least 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or bigger.

HEPA filters are made of either plastic (PP+PET) or fiberglass.

They are made up of a mat of randomly aligned fibers that can catch things like pollen, viruses, bacteria, mold, and PM2.5.

How Do HEPA Filters Work?

HEPA filters work in three ways: by diffusion, by catching particles, and by squeezing them together.

When gas molecules smaller than 0.1 microns bump into each other, they slow down and take longer to pass through the filter.

This is called diffusion.

Interception happens when airborne particles stick to a fiber.

Impact is when bigger air particles get stuck right in the fibers.

What Are the Benefits of HEPA Filters?

HEPA filters are much better for your health than regular filters because they can stop mold spores, bacteria, and even some viruses.

They help clean the air and make it better by getting rid of allergens and microbes.

Most viruses, allergens, and PM2.5, which are linked to many diseases and can make allergies worse, can be taken out of the air by a HEPA filter.

HEPA filters can also get rid of smoke particles and other pollutants in the air, which can help people who have trouble breathing.

Pet allergens and hair can stay on furniture and carpets, making the air inside dirty and making people with allergies sick.

These allergens can be caught by HEPA filters, which can improve the air quality inside.

Using HEPA filters in vacuum cleaners can also help reduce the amount of dust and tiny dust mites that get thrown back into the room when you vacuum.

Where Can You Find HEPA Filters?

Most air purifiers, vacuum cleaners, and HVAC systems have HEPA filters.

When choosing an air purifier, it is important to find out how much air the filter can clean and to buy one that is big enough for the room where it will be used.

You can buy HEPA filters at most home improvement stores and on the internet.

HEPA air cleaners use less energy, but you should change the filters every three months to get the most out of them.

Airborne irritants can be reduced in the air with the help of HEPA filters.

They can get rid of most of the viruses, allergens, and PM2.5 in the air that can make allergies worse.

Most air purifiers, vacuum cleaners, and HVAC systems have HEPA filters.

To make sure the filter works well, it’s important to follow the maintenance and replacement instructions from the manufacturer.

By using HEPA filters, you can improve the quality of the air inside and make it less likely that you will have breathing problems or allergies.

Maintenance of HEPA Filters in Air Purifiers

HEPA Filters and Their Lifespan

HEPA filters are a common type of air filter used in air purifiers to catch small particles like dust, pollen, and pet hair.

These filters are made of fiberglass strands that are tightly wound and woven together.

This makes a maze that even the smallest particles can’t get through.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that HEPA filters should be able to get rid of at least 99.97% of all airborne particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size.

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.

Some HEPA filters are so strong, though, that they don’t need to be changed for up to a year.

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

Smart Air Filters, for example, says that the Sqair HEPA filter should be changed every 1400 hours, which is about 6 months if the Sqair is on high for 8 hours a day.

Carbon Pre-Filters and Permanent Filters

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

Before the air gets to the HEPA filter, these pre-filters are made to get rid of bigger particles and smells.

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.

Importance of Regular Filter Replacement

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.

HEPA filters are some of the best air filters on the market because they can catch 99.97% of the smallest particles.

But if the filter isn’t changed or cleaned often, it may get clogged and be less good at removing irritants from the air.

Limitations of HEPA Filters

Even though HEPA filters can get rid of a lot of airborne irritants, like pet dander, mold spores, pollen, and tobacco smoke, they can’t get rid of everything.

So, they can’t get rid of gases like carbon monoxide or smells.

Also, HEPA filters can’t get rid of allergens and irritants that aren’t in the air, like those in rugs, bedding, and curtains.

So, it’s important to keep these places clean and, if possible, get rid of the allergens and irritants that cause the problems.

HEPA filters work well to get rid of many types of irritants in the air, but they are not a cure-all.

To cut down on allergens and irritants, it’s important to keep areas clean and change or clean air purifier filters regularly.

By knowing what HEPA filters can’t do and taking steps to reduce the number of irritants in the environment, people can improve the quality of the air inside their homes and reduce the risk of breathing problems.

Other Filters and Methods for Reducing Exposure to Airborne Irritants

Types of Filters Used in Air Purifiers

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are the most common type of filter used in air purifiers.

The EPA and the American Lung Association both say that HEPA filters are a good idea.

They are great for catching small particles like pollen, mold, or dust, which is why people with allergies or asthma love them.

Some air purifiers have extra filters made of activated carbon or charcoal that catch gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and odor compounds.

Some air purifiers have HEPA filters and also filters that can be washed and used again.

These washable filters are also HEPA filters, and many different types of air purifiers have them.

Honeywell, Blueair, and Austin Air are all brands that make air purifiers with filters that can be cleaned.

Filtered air purifiers catch pollutants in the air and trap them in a filter cartridge, while electrostatic air purifiers create charged particles and then use the charge to attract and trap the particle in the filter.

When you buy an air purifier, you should think about what kind of filter will work best for you.

Other Ways to Minimize Exposure to Airborne Irritants

Air purifiers with HEPA filters are a good way to reduce your exposure to irritants in the air, but there are other ways to do the same.

Here are some tips:

  • Clean and dust the home regularly
  • Keep pets away from bedding and soft furnishings
  • Wash bedding in hot water each week
  • Use an air conditioner and clean regularly in damp areas to prevent mold from forming in areas like the bathroom
  • Clean regularly in other areas and wear a mask to protect yourself if your house gets dusty
  • Keep doors and windows closed to avoid exposure to outdoor allergens, such as pollen
  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpet and heavy drapes
  • Wash stuffed toys, rugs, and bedding regularly
  • Use plastic or allergen-resistant covers on pillows and mattresses
  • Cook with stainless-steel and cast-iron pans instead of pans with nonstick coatings
  • Use a stovetop fan while cooking to reduce airborne particulates from cooking
  • Avoid synthetic air fresheners and use essential oils instead
  • Use homemade cleaning solutions using vinegar, water, and baking soda instead of commercial cleaners, which can be significant irritants to the lungs.

Air purifiers with HEPA filters are a good way to cut down on exposure to irritants in the air.

But it’s important to think about other ways to avoid lung irritants, like cleaning often, avoiding allergens in the environment, and using non-toxic cleaning products.

By taking these steps, you can improve the quality of the air inside and make it less likely that you will get allergies or asthma.


In conclusion, irritants in the air can be a major cause of asthma and other lung diseases.

Even though there are many ways to avoid these irritants, buying an air purifier can make a big difference.

It can not only help remove harmful particles from the air, but it can also give people with asthma peace of mind.

But it’s important to keep in mind that an air purifier is not a miracle cure.

Still, it’s important to take other steps to reduce exposure to irritants, such as keeping windows shut when pollen counts are high and not smoking or being around people who do.

In the end, it’s up to each person to decide if they want to buy an air purifier.

But people with asthma or other lung problems might want to think about it as a way to improve the air quality and lessen their symptoms.

So, if you already have an air purifier or are thinking about getting one, keep in mind that it’s only one part of the puzzle when it comes to managing asthma and other lung conditions.

By looking at your health as a whole, you can feel better and live a happier, healthier life.

Links and references

  1. “Air Pollution and Asthma” on American Asthma Foundation website
  2. “Examples of common lung irritants and how to avoid them” on Medical News Today

My article on the topic:

Asthma Relief: Air Purifiers 101