Ultraviolet air purifiers are not as well known as ionic air cleaners. Yet some of the better ionizers also utilize ultraviolet purifiers in their design due to the germ killing ability of ultraviolet light.
The applications for ultraviolet air purifiers have traditionally been for commercial use but the same benefits can be useful in your home. Many HVAC systems have significant buildup of mold in the vents and piping systems. This is dirt we never think of or see yet the mold can be spread throughout our homes by the air flow through the vents.
Black mold has been a problem in recent years in homes across the country. This is a dangerous substance to breathe and has been shown to produce harmful, debilitating side effects. Families have been forced to abandon homes infested with black mold and treating such a home to kill the mold is extremely expensive and not always successful.
Ultraviolet air purifiers kill mold. Extensive research studies have provided levels of ultraviolet light necessary to kill specific bacteria and molds. The amount of UV light energy needed to kill specific varieties of dangerous bacteria, viruses and other pathogens can be anywhere from 3500 to 40,000.
UV light can kill serious infectious spores as well as the active bacteria and is usually referred to as an air sanitizer rather than an air purifier. Some problems that can be controlled with ultraviolet air purifiers are tuberculosis, bacterial infections, salmonella, staphylococcus, tetanus, diphtheria, E. coli, meningitis, cholera, hepatitis, swine flue, bird flu, smallpox and green algae. It's easy to see the significant benefits of UV light treatment in preventing the spread of many commonly infectious diseases.
The benefits of using UV rays for sterilization of the air have been known for many years but the method was not publicized in the public's view until the bird flu and swine flu epidemics that recently were media sensations.
The value of this type of air cleaner in homes is mixed. Ultraviolet lamps kill only the bacteria they come in contact with. They were first added to ionizing air purifiers almost as a publicity effort to differentiate one air cleaner as being "better than" or "offering more protection".
As the ion generating air systems usually had no fan attached to circulate the air in a room, the ability of the UV lamps to kill mold and bacteria was limited to the air that passed through the light by chance. Even had all of the room air been cycled through the UV rays, the low levels of ultraviolet light in these consumer based air purifiers was so low it was ineffectual.
The air we breathe in our homes is laden with particulate matter. Over 350 air pollutants and contaminants are present in the average home. These include tobacco smoke, germs, bacteria mold, mildew, fungi, viruses, pollens, pet dander and fumes from paints and furniture upholstery treatments. Add to that the odors left behind by smokers, cooking, sweat and pets and the air in an average well insulated home is not all that fresh and sweet smelling.
Breathing the dust and other contaminants can cause coughing, sneezing, dry or irritated eyes, hay fever and other allergic reactions, ear infections, fatigue, headaches, respiratory infections and even nausea.
The solution to these physical symptoms is not always medication but may be simply cleaning the air in the home. Simple furnace filters are not enough as those filters can add to the problem by providing a breeding ground for pathogens trapped in the filter but not killed.
Standard air purifiers rely on air passing through filters and other air cleaners by the natural air flow in the room or by pulling the air into the unit with fans and motors. This does not work well when using UV light to sanitize air in your room.
High end manufacturers of air purification systems for residential areas have refined the use of UV light rays. They used broad spectrum high-intensity UV tubes which may be combined with photocatalytic oxidation they claim will lead to cleaning of all the room's air.
The best home air purifiers combine a variety of filtration methods to clean the air in a room and kill the contaminants present. These are not always the most expensive home air purifiers you can buy but at the lower price ranges you can expect to have more maintenance costs due to filter replacements.
One technology available claims to use six techniques to clean the air in your room. A pre-filter for large dust particles helps extend the life of a True HEPA filter that is the second line of defense for removing dust, pet dander and mold spores. An activated carbon filter removes chemical gases, smoke and other odors left behind by cooking and simply living.
Following the pre-filter, true HEPA filter and activated carbon filter, the air is cleaned by a large germicidal ultraviolet light. This kills viruses, germs, bacteria and fungi such as mold and mildew. A photocatalytic filter works with the UV light to oxidize the damaging pollutants thus increasing the sterilizing effect.
At the end of the air cleaning process, an air ionizer produced negative ions that are dispersed into the room. This further cleans the air or allergens, chemicals and bacteria while also adding a crisp, clean scent to the room's air. The result of this multi-step cleaning process is a room that not only smells clean but where the air has been thoroughly processed.
Ultraviolet air purifiers have been used by commercial businesses for years but only recently has the UV technology been applied to home air cleaners. The UV rays will make the air in your home healthier by killing most bacteria, viruses and other contaminants present in the home.
Be cautious when making a purchase as many popularly advertised UV air cleaners are not effective. Choosing an air purifier that provides several types of filtration and combines those filters into a full air processing and cleaning system is the best choice. With strong light sources, filters and fans, the ultraviolet air purifiers can accomplish the work they are intended to do.