Air purifiers remove allergens, fungi, volatile organic compounds, some gases and other particles from the air within the space of the purifier’s operation. After filtering the air and removing dust, debris, and particles, the cleaned air is circulated back into the household environment or other space by the air purifier. A good purifier will remove at least 95 percent of all mold, bacteria, viruses, dust and other particles from the air around it. Although purifiers do not remove odors or chemicals on their own, they can do so with addition of activated carbon based material in the form of a thin mat or up to several pounds of carbon, depending upon the type of purifier and its available options. Many households rely upon air purifiers to remove contaminants which cause severe allergies, asthma, and other health vulnerabilities. Purifiers can greatly reduce and even eliminate second-hand tobacco smoke.
Air purifiers are considered to have great health benefits, but they also present risk. Some undesirable defects and hazards caused by air purifiers are:
Ozone-producing air purifiers are of particular concern, as ozone presents the following health and general risks :
Some examples of air purifiers recalled in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to documented injury, household property damage, or extreme potential for such risk through standard use by consumers are:
Some examples of air purifier general failures are:
In the U.S., 85.6 million air purifiers, humidifiers and vaporizers are in operation, making those products present in at least 40 percent of households. The average life expectancy of an air purifier is about five to 11 years.
In 2002, the Consumer Product Safety Commission attributed 1,500 emergency room injuries to air purifiers, humidifiers, and vaporizers, with six percent of those patients hospitalized. One death occurred and 3,320 non-emergency injuries were also reported. According to these statistics, the medical injury cost for these appliances each year is about $96.1 million, with deaths costing the U.S. about $5 million per year.
For the year 2005, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System documented four emergency room visits related to air purifiers. Two 2 year olds and a 3-year-old suffered facial lacerations due to running into the units, while a 17-year-old plugged in an air purifier in a thrift store and suffered a lower leg injury when the unit exploded.
For 2006, the NEISS reported three injuries, including a head laceration to a 6-month-old infant and contusions to two adults who tripped into or over their air purifiers. In 2007, there were also three injuries reported through the NEISS, with all being due to trip and fall injuries. One involved a toddler and the other two were cases were older adults.