A variation of this article appears on my website Mold Help For You. It is worth a look as it has more comprehensive and updated information. Check out The 7 Best Air Purifiers For Mold here. Otherwise, continue reading…
When it comes to the air you breath and the air your skin is surrounded in, you want it as toxin free as possible. You also want to free from other yucky stuff such as allergens, odors, bacteria, and mold.
I haven’t talked about choosing an air purifier let alone an air purifier to remove mold spores. Seems absurd considering an air purifier is one of the most important investments you can make if you have been exposed to mold in the past or are currently being exposed to mold.
An air purifier won’t “fix” your mold problem and it won’t help you detox from mold exposure. Choosing an air purifier to remove mold spores is extremely important though as it can make a huge difference in your health both by helping to lesson your mold exposure symptoms as well as prevent them all together.
So how does one go about choosing the best air purifier to remove mold spores?
It is a bit of a process – one that can be overwhelming if you’ve never had to shop for air purifiers before. I have outlined all of the important points to consider and provided as much information as I can (based on both my personal experience and research). I have used about a dozen different air purifiers along the way and certainly have a solid understanding of the good, the bad, and the great!
A Guide To Choosing The Best Air Purifier To Remove Mold and Other Yucky Stuff
When choosing an air purifier, here are the questions to ask yourself (and the companies you might be considering).
Besides mold spores, what do you want to remove?
You may know exactly which particles you react to or simply don’t want to inhale. If that’s the case, then this part is easy!
Many people are not sure what particles they want to remove or what an air purifier is capable of taking away. Depending on the make and model, air purifiers are capable of removing the following impurities from your indoor environment:
- Particles: Besides mold spores, these can include allergens like pollen, dust mite feces, dust, and pet dander
- Smells: These can be anything from cooking smells to stale smoke to pet odors
- Chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): These are ‘off-gassed’ by certain solids or liquids and are common in the home. Some of these are considered harmless – for example foods contain VOCs. However, there is a subset of these which negatively affect human health, such as formaldehyde and benzene. You can find VOCs in solvents, some household paints and cleaning products. They can also be off-gassed by items of furniture like memory foam mattresses, carpets and MDF products.
- Bacteria and viruses: These are rather self-explanatory. They can be trapped in specific filter types.
What is the ideal filter type?
Air purifiers use air filters – these are not one in the same. Some types of filters are considered better than others for removing specific particles. When it comes to choosing an air filter to remove mold spores, there is a definite hierarchy of filter types. Here is a brief explanation of the main filters available:
HEPA filter: HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. This air purification technology was originally developed during World War II to remove radioactive dust particles from the air to protect soldiers’ respiratory systems. Today they are often used to filter household air with the capacity to trap 99.97% of all airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in size and 95% of minute particles down to 0.1 micron.
When air contaminants are inhaled, the body’s natural defense system is more vulnerable to small particles below 0.5 microns. That is why HEPA air filters are the most recommended by Allergists and Doctors because of their ability to remove the majority of air contaminants down to the microscopic level.
Examples of some common air contaminants and their size in microns:
- Mold (2-20 microns)
- Pollen (5-100 microns)
- Pet Dander (0.5-100 microns)
- Dust Mite Debris (0.5-50 microns)
- Bacteria (0.35-10 microns)
HEPA filters are the gold standard when it comes to removing airborne mold spores.
Carbon filter: these are also known as activated carbon filters. To make carbon into activated carbon, the original charcoal is placed in a heated tank and treated with stream and oxygen to give it a huge number of tiny pores that adsorb smells and odors. Regular activated carbon is excellent at adsorbing organic compounds. Activated carbon filtration will remove VOCs such as Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, oils and some chlorinated compounds. It is possible to increase the number and type of chemicals that can be removed by activated carbon by the addition of additives to the carbon.
While carbon is a commonly used material in odor control applications it does have several serious disadvantages. Most significantly, carbon only physisorbs toxic, noxious, and other odor causing molecules, meaning that the unwanted chemicals do not react chemically with the carbon and can be released them later and cause the re-emergence of an odor believed to have been initially neutralized or eliminated. Changes in humidity or temperature can hasten this process, causing the odors and other unwanted chemicals to be released back into the air. In addition, carbon doesn’t effectively remove particles. Therefore, it is pretty useless against mold spores.
Ionic Filter*: An air ionizer is built around a negative ion generator. This generator sends out a stream of negative ions that attract positive airborne dust and allergen particles in the air. As a result, these particles become too heavy to remain airborne and fall to the floor. As the majority of surfaces in a room are positively charged, the particles from the ionic air are attracted to these surfaces as well. This means that the area around the ionic filter tends to get dark spots on nearby walls and floors. Some ionizers however, have special electrostatic precipitators which trap particles on a metal plate. To remain effective, these plates need to be cleaned regularly.
Ionizers are a relatively inexpensive way to clear second hand smoke. However, if you have a problem with mold, dust or pollen an ionizer air purifier may not be the best choice because the particles are not completely eliminated.
UV Light Air Filters*: The last type of commonly used filter is the UV light air filter. Harmful particles such as mold and bacteria are neutralized through the process of titanium dioxide being exposed to UV light. High intensity UV is capable of destroying the majority of carbon-based compounds, which means that these filters are commonly used alongside HEPA filters.
* When choosing an air purifier to remove mold, avoid air purifiers that produce ozone
Ozone is great when it’s far away in the upper atmosphere of the earth, because it protects us from ultraviolet rays. But ozone is a known lung irritant that doesn’t belong in our homes. High levels of ozone in our home can worsen asthma symptoms and compromise our ability to fight respiratory infections.
Air purifiers that use an electrostatic precipitator or ionizer technology will electronically charge pollutants as they enter the unit and produce a small amount of ozone as a byproduct. Many of the top rated air filters use one or both of these purification methods (in addition to HEPA and carbon filters), so they are difficult to avoid. Some ultraviolet filters generate ozone to kill bacteria and sometimes may not be properly dispersed, posing a serious health concern. So while I mentioned these two types of filter types, it is best to avoid them all together.
Find an air purifier with the right coverage area
Do you need the air purifier to cover your entire house, just your living room, or just your bedroom? All air purifiers will list their coverage area—or the size of the room recommended for using the air purifier in.
Every air purifier can only cover a limited area specified by the manufacturer. Make sure the one you are buying fits or exceeds your total room space. Do not expect an air purifier that is built for a 300 sq ft room to work for the whole house or apartment unless your home is of that size.
Realistically, most air purifiers can only purify one room or one area at any one time, as they cannot circulate air effectively throughout an entire house or apartment with multiple rooms. So if you are like me, you have 6 air purifiers to ensure that the entire house is covered.
When choosing an air purifier to remove mold spores, the ACH rating should be at least 4x
ACH stands for air changes per hour. The ACH rating indicates the number of times the air purifier can exchange the air in its coverage area in an hour. The higher the better—for those dealing with mold, look for an ACH rating higher than 4.
Would you like to be able to adjust the speed settings and what does this mean exactly?
When you look at specifications for speed, you are talking CFMs. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, and this number provides insight into the efficiency of the air purifier, namely how many cubic feet per minute this air purifier can scrub.
The number describes the amount of air that is passing through the system at a certain point. It is usually measured as the air exits the unit. The higher the CFM count, the larger the space the air purifier can clean and the better potential for air purification results.
Keep in mind that CFM can be impacted by a variety of factors, including fan speeds, insulation, air flow in the room, furniture in the room, and the amount of pollutants in the air. However, there is an equation to help you determine an ideal CFM, which can provide help when deciding on air purifiers.
In order to figure out how high the number for your air purifier should be, you need to know the size of your indoor space. To find your ideal CFM, calculate the total volume of your space (length x width x height in cubic feet) and divide this number by your desired ACH. Below is a sample equation:
Total Volume of Room (10ft X15ft X8ft) = 1200 cubic feet
Ideal ACH = 5
Ideal CFM = 240
Now that is a pretty average size room I did the sample math for. But I think you get the picture.
Most reputable air purifiers come with at least 3 speeds. I prefer to have 4-5 speeds. But remember – it is about more than speed! You need to know the CFMs for each speed.
If you aren’t real thrilled with having to do all this math and just want to know that you can control the speeds of the air purifier and still get great results, check out this model. Here is a look at the CFM breakdowns for each of it’s speed options:
High – 250 CFM | Medium – 200 CFM | Low – 150 CFM | Whisper – 85 CFM
CFMs are, in my opinion, more important than the CADR rating. And with that…
Give consideration to CADR Ratings
In addition to the ACH rating, most air purifiers will also have a Clean Air Delivery Rate rating. CADR is one of those technical terms that is not easily understood. In short, it is the volume of filtered air.
CADR comes from AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers). This is a way for you to compare the amount of clean air from air purifiers.
How it works: There are 3 sizes of particles measured. They each give an indication of the air purifier’s ability to remove the smaller particles (smoke) up to larger sized particles (pollen).
- Smoke CADR (0.09 – 1 micron)
- Dust CADR (0.5 – 3 microns)
- Pollen CADR (5 – 11 microns)
There are two factors that influence the CADR ratings scale. They are the filter efficiency and the air flow through the filters. Taken together they give an indication for how much filtered air you will get from the air purification system.
The CADR represents the amount of clean air coming out of the air purifier on the highest fan speed. It is only measured on the highest fan speed. If you run the air cleaner on a lower fan speed then the CADR will be lower since the fan airflow is less.
CADR is measured in cfm or cubic feet per minute in the US. For example, if the air purifier produces 100 cfm and the filter removes 90% of particles (efficiency) then the CADR for the air purifier will be 90. 100 times 90%.
Typically, a higher number indicates the unit is more efficient in cleaning the air of that particular pollutant. Look for CADR ratings of at least 100. The best air purifiers will have CADR ratings of at least 200.
A criticism that some brands have with the Clean Air Delivery Rate is that it penalizes the use of higher efficiency HEPA filters and activated carbon. Say, a HEPA-type filter can remove 90% of airborne particles while a true HEPA filter is at 99.97%. If each air filtration system can move 100 cfm (cubic feet per minute) through the air purifier filters, then the HEPA-type unit will have a CADR of 90 and the true HEPA system will have a CADR of 99.97.
The issue is with a higher efficiency filter the air flow resistance increases a lot. Yes, the air flow through the air purifier filters is important since you need to move the air. However, you also need to have the smallest particles removed. So in my professional opinion, CADR isn’t as important as a lot of people make it seem.
Look for a warranty of at least 3 years
You want maximum protection should there be any manufacturing defects. A 3-year warranty should be the bare minimum, especially if the air purifier will be getting a workout. In addition, a 30 day money back guarantee is an added bonus in the event that you have a change of heart. My friends at EnviroKlenz offer this which is a big deal in my opinion.
Check the noise level when choosing an air purifier
This is not usually stated clearly by the manufacturer but most air purifiers will generate some white noise. Most air purification manufactures list a decibel rating for each air purifiers fan speed. Use the chart below to get an idea for the level of sound an air purifier will make based on its decibel measurement.
|20 dB||Falling Leaves|
|50 dB||Average Home|
|60 dB||Normal Conversation|
|70 dB||Vacuum Cleaner|
Read user reviews to get a sense of whether this is a noise level you are comfortable with (eg. Is it consistent, soft white noise that is barely noticeable, or does it get annoying?) This often times is better than trying to decipher a decibel measurement.
I personally am most impressed with the EnviroKlenz Mobile System’s lack of noise. The low setting is so quiet it’s basically silent. And while you can hear the medium and high setting, it’s a pleasant hum of non-disruptive background noise… it doesn’t sound like a broken lawnmower the way some fans and filters do.The medium setting sort of sounds like someone it in the shower a few rooms over. Super relaxing if you ask me!
Do you need to remove odors as well as mold spores and other contaminants?
Air filters only remove particulates. If you need an air purifier with odor removal capabilities, look for those with pre-filters or a two-step filtration process. These have the additional advantage of being able to remove odors, as they will absorb odorous gases and chemicals passing through.
I have found that metal oxide (a very safe earth mineral media) packed into a 2-stage filtration process that combines traditional particulate removal (HEPA filtration) with this special cartridge accomplishes what traditional mechanical filtration cannot do alone. Air filters only remove particulates, but with the metal oxide based cartridge, chemicals, odors, and other liquid or vapors can be captured and/or neutralized. Best of all, this process occurs without releasing harsh chemicals or byproducts to the airspace, leaving the best evidence of all, no odor.
What is this metal oxide filter? The EnviroKlenz® Mobile Air Purifier is an example of an air purifier that removes mold spores AND everything else you want removed. Their air purifier has proven to be highly efficient with “absorptive neutralizers” for chemicals in the form of metal oxides. This makes them not only competitively advantageous over carbon (which is what most air purifiers default to), but ideal in multiple chemical sensitive situations.
When the EnviroKlenz materials come into contact with the airborne pollutant, the metal oxides’ active sites first capture the chemical then initiate the neutralization process. This type of action is needed for the numerous types of pollutants that possess a variety of different functional groups. The increased surface area, unique physical morphology, high chemical reactivity, and functional porosity, all contribute to the enhanced chemical adsorption and neutralizing characteristics of EnviroKlenz. All this technology makes this system one of the best air purifiers around!
Metal oxides are considered safe earth minerals and are used in many products, including things we eat. So if they were in the air, they would be safe. It should be pointed out however, that the EnviroKlenz Mobile Air System does not release metal oxides or ANY chemicals to the air. The system uses the air flow to bring the chemical pollutants into contact with the patented EnviroKlenz materials INSIDE their cartridge, not out in your personal environment.
Where will you place your air purifier?
Most air purifiers are designed to clean single rooms, so naturally, it’s best to place an air purifier in the room you spend the majority of your time in. For most people, this place is the bedroom. However, you may also spend a bulk of your hours in a home office or a living area with your family. Moreover, children may make frequent use of a dedicated play area. It’s beneficial to create clean air in these environments as well. You may want to consider purchasing an air purifier with wheels that allows you to easily move the unit from room to room to gain clean air anywhere that you spend your time.
Be sure to check the air purifier dimensions! Air purifier placement is an important factor to consider. For maximum effectiveness, you should place your air purifier at least two feet away from the wall. (I prefer to place it a good 3 feet from the wall and other things like furniture). Check the product dimensions to make sure you have enough space in the house for your air purifier.
How many hours per day do you want to run your air purifier?
When it comes to choosing an air purifier to remove mold spores, it is recommended you choose a model that you are ok with continuously running. The air purifier has to work harder after it has been turned off. Plus in order for it to really work, you need it scrubbing the air 24/7. It is more energy efficient to leave it running continuously but adjust the speed settings as needed. For example, to maintain your indoor air quality while you are away from home, your air purifier can be on a lower setting than when you are home. This saves energy and cuts costs while still maintaining a clean environment.
Speaking of costs…
When choosing an air purifier to remove mold, look at the recurring costs
In order for an air purifier to work at its best, the filter must be replaced regularly. How long a filter lasts depends very much on the model, frequency of use, speed the air purifier is run on, as well as the air quality of the environment. Once you know how much a replacement filter costs and how long it typically lasts, you can easily calculate likely cost incurred per month.
In dusty Arizona, I have to change my filter much more often than I did when I lived in Northern California. Instead of twice a year, I find myself changing the air filter every 3-4 months.
And of course, there is the obvious cost of keeping an air purifier running. You would be surprised at how little it adds to your overall electricity bill. I have 6 air purifiers running 24/7. My electricity bill is just a little higher in this house than it was in my moldy house (where I didn’t have air purifiers as I didn’t know about the mold). And this house is slightly larger in square footage too. Air purifiers use slightly more electricity than a lamp but significantly less than a computer.
When choosing an air purifier, check to see if there is other maintenance required
Other than replacing filter cartridges, does the air purifier need to be hand cleaned regularly? Many air cleaners come with washable pre-filter to trap larger particles such as hair and scurf so as to increase the durability and performance of subsequent filters in the device. If you don’t like to idea of adding another task to your household chores, then you may want to consider looking for a maintenance-free unit.
And there you have it! Hybrid Rasta Mama’s guide to choosing an air purifier to remove mold spores and other yucky stuff!
Wait – one more thing! You may have noticed I dropped some not-so-subtle hints about the EnviroKlenz Mobile Air Purifer. This is because it is one of the air purifiers I use in my home and that I am totally head over heals for! Not only does it check all the boxes for being one of the best air purifiers to remove mold spores but the company itself is super awesome! Before I tell you a bit about it, let me tell you about a screaming deal you won’t want to pass up!
Use Coupon Code Hybrid10 to receive 10% off any EnviroKlenz purchase! But wait – there’s more! When you purchase the Mobile Air System you will also receive $300 in free replacement filters with your purchase. That’s a good 2 years worth of free filters.
When I learned about EnviroKlenz, I actually sat down and googled the heck out of them, read their entire 16 page technical report. It was FASCINATING and you can read the EnviroKlenz Technical Report here if you would like. I then compared their mobile air purifier to all the brands I have used with success.
If you are into such things, here are the specifications of the EnviroKlenz Mobile Air Purifier:
|Dimensions||15″ wide x 15″ deep x 19″ high|
|4-Speeds||High – 250 CFM | Medium – 200 CFM | Low – 150 CFM | Whisper – 85 CFM|
|Noise Level||70 dB(A) on high|
|Electrical||115 volts | 60 Hz | 1 amp | 100 watts | 5′ power cord (UL listed)|
|2 Filter System||VOC Cartridge – Includes 4 – replace every 3-4 months|
HEPA Filter – Includes 1 – replace every 1-2 years
|Certifications||CSA Certified | HAZMAT|
|Warranty||5 year limited|
|Additional FAQs||For more information on how EnviroKlenz Mobile compares with carbon technology click here|
Check out their full comparison and VOC Removal case study here
This company has a SOLID system, it works great, is easy to move from room to room, and is competitively priced. In my humble opinion, it is a solid investment to keep your air mold spore (and other yucky stuff) free!