The EPA, which notes that “indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks,” says the best way to purify the air in your home is to a) get rid of the source of the pollutant and to b) ventilate your home with fresh, outdoor air.
However, these two options may not always be possible. Frigid weather or an event such as a forest fire might make the outdoor air undesirable or even dangerous. And you may not always be able to identify the source of a particular pollutant in order to eliminate it.
Filtering and purifying your indoor air is the next best solution.
How does a UV air purifier work?
A UV air purifier (also known as a UVGI cleaner) uses ultraviolet radiation to sterilize or destroy viruses, bacteria, allergens, and molds in the air or that are growing on parts of your HVAC system. Working with the air filtration incorporated into your HVAC system, they help keep the air inside your home cleaner and healthier.
OK, but does it really work?
The home improvement site homereference.net states that “UVGI systems produce the same kind of ultraviolet light that’s present in sunshine, but at a much higher intensity than found in the sunshine that reaches the earth. This light destroys microorganisms’ nucleic acids, damaging their DNA and either killing them or leaving them unable to reproduce.”
So, yes. They work by destroying some harmful microorganisms!
A UV air purifier is not a panacea. It kills or sterilizes living microorganisms, not non-living particles like pollen, pet dander, dust, or cooking fumes. It will not affect VOCs, either.
But UV light can be effective against viruses that cause the common cold, the flu, and SARS and the bacteria that cause staph infections and strep throat. And your filtration system should take care of pet dander and pollen.
The fewer activated microorganisms you have, the cleaner the air you’re breathing. Filtering and purification together lead to generally cleaner air.
Where do you put a UV air purifier?
UV air purifiers can be added onto your HVAC system. The UV unit is installed to shine into your duct system so it can help kill bacteria and virus particles as they flow through your ducts—before they get circulated back through your home. Together, your filtration and UV air purifying systems remove or deactivate particles that could be harmful.
Who should consider a UV air purifier for their HVAC system?
If you have an immunocompromised person in your household or others who need the extra protection of purified air, it would be worth looking into this addition to your HVAC system. Heating and cooling systems do not typically include this feature; it’s an add-on. To find out more, contact your HVAC professional and they can consult with you about your needs.
Important note: Some UV air purifiers produce ozone, a lung irritant. Be sure to specifically seek out UVGI cleaners, which don’t produce ozone.