Consumer Reports tests air purifiers in a sealed chamber. A measured amount of dust is forced into the room, followed by cigarette smoke. To see how well each air purifier works, a machine measures the levels of particles in the air over the course of half an hour.
Included in the tests were two units that are designed to clean the air with the help of ozone. Consumer Reports found they do a poor job of removing smoke and dust, and they emit very high levels of ozone. Ozone is not something you want added to the air you breathe, especially if you have a respiratory problem. It can aggravate asthma and reduce lung function. So Consumer Reports has named the EdenPure Area Model and the EcoQuest Fresh Air Not Acceptable for use by homeowners.
Consumer Reports also tested air purifiers from market leaders Oreck and Sharper Image. The Sharper Image Hybrid GP Germicidal Air Purifier is $500 and the Oreck tower, the XL Professional Air Purifier, is $700. But Consumer Reports says neither did a good job of cleaning the air.
A much less expensive air purifier did a much better job and earned top-ratings. It's the Whirlpool Whispure model number AP45030S for $230. It uses only a filter to clean the air, so it doesn't emit any ozone at all.
And how about the claims many air purifiers make that the unit is "antibacterial" or that it "kills microorganisms"? Consumer Reports checked by collecting samples of the air and sending them off to a lab to be cultured. The tests showed the air purifiers that promise to reduce germs do. However, although the top-rated Whirlpool doesn't make an antibacterial claim, it does just as good a job.
Consumer Reports says before you get an air purifier, there are a number of things you can do to clean the air in your home that can be more effective and don't cost a dime. They include simple things such as opening windows whenever possible and removing carpets.
As for protection against germs, Consumer Reports says washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water and covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze is quite effective.
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