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Room Air Cleaners
Old 12-18-2007, 12:16 AM   #1
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Room Air Cleaners

Oh my gosh.......

Just noticed DIL's xmas list has "room air cleaner/purifier" on it! She struggles with allergies, so I'm sure she's wants one to try to see if it will give her some relief.

I checked Consumer Reports. The 2007 year end summary book gives a few paragraphs on the types available and a few buying tips, but no specific manufacturer and model recommendations. The last full monthly magazine detail review was done in Oct, 2005, and I've already tossed everything before 2006.

Anyone recently done some research or purchased a unit they're happy with?
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:03 AM   #2
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DW has allergies, thus far unidentified after about 5 years of trying to do so. I guess they call them unspecific when they cannot pinpoint what it is. We tried a lot of things like changing bed linens, encapsulating the pillows, tile floors, Various Air Purifiers, and other medically suggested things, but, nothing worked very well. I would be careful not to not go overboard, money wise, on a Air Purifier - try a small one that can be used at night when sleeping. May be difficult to do since most make some noise. If you have a closed air system of heating and cooling it may be cheaper, in the long run, to go to a whole house electronic air cleaner installed on the heating and cooling system. They do cost a bit more but I would think, overall, they would be more effective, quiet, and otherwise more efficient. Good luck and it is probably a good time of year to get one installed.
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:08 AM   #3
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We had one years ago .I 'm pretty sure it was an Aller air .Very quiet .I'd check the allergy and asthma sites they usually have good recommendations . We later purchased a Sears dehumidifier . It was like sleeping with the washing machine going .Much too loud.I second what Rwood says and get a small unit . I really did not notice any difference in my allergies with one .
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:17 AM   #4
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Thanks R Wood and Moeng.....

Yeah, I noticed Consumer Reports, in addition to not giving any specific brand/model recommendation, also sounded a tad skeptical of getting allergy relief.......

I've located a unit at Lowe's in the $100 price range. It looks like a good way to get that box checked off while continuing to research and see if a whole house unit or more elablorate room unit would be worthwhile/appropriate.

Thanks again
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:07 AM   #5
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I recall that CFB had posted a while back on air cleaners and allergies, and had decided that they didn't/wouldn't improve the situation regarding his wife's allergies. I've read the same thing elsewhere: Most of the allergens settle out of the air before making it to a central filter, and they get stirred up again every time you move in the room, sit on the sofa, etc. So, the filters may not help much.

That said, I've got a small one running 24/7 in my basement. It's a HEPA unit and I have it going because of a borderline radon problem in my basement (approx 5 picocurries/liter, FWIW). The HEPA filter won't, of course, remove an element like radon, but it will trap the dust particles that the radon daughter products tend to glom onto ("glom" is a technical term for electrostatic attraction). By holding them in the filter for a few days as they further emit their alpha-particle badness, the potential health impact of the radon is reduced. That's the theory anyway, and it is just a holding action until I do something proper/permanent about the radon coming in.

Our air cleaner is a Holmes, and it is quiet and seems well made. Be sure to check on filter availability and cost--costs can be surprisingly high.
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:20 AM   #6
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(cross posted with sam...whoops)
For what its worth, my wife does respiratory care, has asthma and we both have allergies.

No air purifier or furnace filter is worth squat if you dont address the immediate problem, whatever that is. If your house is full of carpet and 7 year old furniture, 55%+ humidity, animals, you're not vacuuming every day or two, etc...having something sucking in bad air and spitting out a little good air wont matter. Every time you sit on the couch, walk down the hall or roll over in bed...poof...a bunch of dust, mites and spores will become airborne, you'll breathe them and they'll coat your sinuses.

The allergy web sites and stores cater to this and sell pretty expensive machines with expensive filters. AFAIK the Friedrich C90 series (around $500) did a decent job in removing allergens from the air and has a washable electronic filter according to CR. Most of the other ones didnt do that great and in particular the expensive fru-fru ones did poorly.

Furnace filters arent very useful, since your furnace just doesnt run enough to provide satisfactory filtration. And many air returns are in ceilings or high up on walls, while most allergens are close to the floor.

Electric operation cost is a biggie. A lot of air purifiers can cost $25-30 per month to operate. Electronic units like the friedrich use a good bit less electricity than that. But dont go for the "fanless" models like the ones Sharper Image puts out (the 'ionic breeze'), many objective tests have shown that they do nothing useful whatsoever except remove cigarette smoke from the air. Most units advertise a clean air rate that presumes the unit is running on "high" all the time, and most of them sound like jet engines at that speed...and suck electricity...and still will barely clean the air in one medium size room, so you'll need multiple units.

Best things you can do to improve allergies: clean and vacuum your carpet regularly, replace carpet with hard flooring, keep humidity levels below 50% to discourage mold spores and the things that eat them, replace fabric furniture with vinyl or leather, replace traditional mattresses with latex ones, flush your nasal passages with a saline solution/neti-pot type product, wash your hair before bed, and as a last ditch effort, use a steroid nose spray like flonase.
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:30 AM   #7
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We have a couple of Whirlpools that work well. Do NOT get the Sharper Image ones, they don't work and sound like bug zappers. We also have a HEPA vacuum plus DW gets allergy shots.
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Your climate might make a difference
Old 12-18-2007, 05:22 PM   #8
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Your climate might make a difference

If you live in an area where dust mites thrive then finding ways to control them might make a difference. Dust mites don't like hot and dry. I put my pillow in front of the heat register every morning and that seems to help. In the Summer you could put your pillow in the drier for a few minutes every week.

We had Honeywell room air cleaner for a few years and it picked up a lot of dust but my allergies did not improve.
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:00 PM   #9
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A lot of the honeywell air units were good cleaners, but they didnt 'throw' the air far enough away so they ended up recycling a lot of their own cleaned air. You'd have to couple them with a ceiling fan or other air distribution unit inside the room.

Dust mites eat mold spores. Mold spores grow in humid environments over 40-45 percent. Control the humidity, and within about 30 days the mites will run out of stuff to eat and die off.

UV light units also kill mold spores, and I've seen some "air sterilizers" that claim to kill all airborn microorganisms within 10 days, like this one:
Airfree Air Sterilizers - Onix 3000, P2000 and P1000

We have an older hamilton beach model that has an integrated UV light. Fairly quiet, seems to move plenty of air, but it guzzles electricity and the UV light probably lost its effectiveness a year or more ago. I'm sure the bulbs, like the filters, are very expensive.

Considering I regularly wake up with two dogs laying on me and at least one, sometimes up to three, cats laying on my head...nice clean air coming from the far side of the room probably isnt going to do me a lot of good.

I thought this idea looked pretty interesting though, for point of use air filtration:
Pure Air Sleep System - Under Bed Air Purifiers

Has a unit that sits under the bed, so the noise is suppressed, and it sprays an envelope of cleaned air right over your face and upper body. Might be pretty effective for people who have problems while sleeping. But I'd recommend washing your hair (a natural attractant for allergens) and saline flushing your nasal passages as a first step.

You can avoid the cost of a saline flushing system if you have a big rubber "bulb" for cleaning baby noses or one of the mid-size models intended for flushing out ear canals.

Here for a make-at-home saline solution and flushing instructions...
Saline Nasal Sprays & Irrigation - UMHS Approved Clinical Care Guideline
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:31 PM   #10
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I did this nasal passage flushing for a while when I had a sinus infection. Kind of like "waterboarding lite".
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:57 PM   #11
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It is a little uncomfortable at first. Some folks swear by the waterpik attachment or the entire system like this
Sinus Nasal Irrigation - Grossan Hydro-Pulse Irrigator

We've been using a thingy like this one
Dr. Hana's Nasopure Nasal Wash System

Thing is, once you get a good collection of stuff up in your sinuses, without clearing it out and periodically flushing it, your only other choices are wearing a breathing mask or using the nasal steroids.
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