Living Air Purifier Demystified

The term Living Air Purifier can be confusing as several brands of air cleaning products use that term for one or more of their category names.

The term itself has gained its own definition as it is most often used as a description of one specific type of filtration system.

Ionizing air cleaners work by releasing negative ions in the room’s environment. This type of air purifier can be quite effective when combined with other filtration methods but has critics as well.


Well known manufacturers such Alpine Air and its successor Ecoquest use the term living air purifier to denote units that use the ionization method. The terminology began to be confusing when ion air purifies became the new darling of consumers.

Living Air Purifier

With standard HEPA filters the air is filtered and return to the room while particulates are trapped in the filter. True HEPA and HEPA -type filters have been scientifically proven to be effective in cleaning indoor air.

However, for the consumer there is no noticeable change when the air purifier is turned on. You know you are breathing cleaner air and before long you may notice a decrease in allergy attacks and dust on your furniture.

Nevertheless, what you physically feel is almost like a fan spreading air around the room as there is no observable change. Activated carbon filters do provide some measurable change in the room as these pre-filters remove odors from the environment.

Cooking odors can linger for hours, diapers in the baby’s room or the doggie smell of your pet combines with the paper at the bottom of the parrot’s cage and these create smells easily noticed. When activated carbon filters are used, those smells quickly dissipate.

Ionized air is different. The best example in nature is the lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. When you go outside just after the storm passes, the air has an almost crisp scent to it.

We describe this as “fresh air”. While its true rain will wash particulates from the air the smell is due to the ozone created when lightning creates negative ion activity in the air.

If you sought a living air purifier ten years ago, the products you found would be of the highest quality. These air cleaners were developed with sturdy metal housing and used a combination of filters to provide cleaner air. Some used ionizers as the last step of the cleaning process and that provided a recognizable freshness to the air.

Marketing and Consumer Demands

As the effects of pollution became more widely accepted the sales of air cleaning products began to rise. Brands competed with each other to present themselves as the “best” product choice. Consumer demand continued to rise and larger manufacturers such as Honeywell, Kenmore (Sears) and Hamilton Beach added their own branded versions of air purifiers.

Alpine Air had grown its loyal customer base through ionized filters and that was a focus when EcoQuest took over the Alpine Air products. These are not cheap machines and ambitious smaller companies and entrepreneurs wanted their share of the pie financially.

It’s difficult to find where the term was originated but in advertising and in the minds of the public ionic air cleaning became associated with the term “living air purifier”.


On the QVC shopping channel and on advertisements and sales pages that claim “as seen on TV” the term living air is quite often mentioned. Online, low end websites make claims about the wonders of improving your health, wealth and happiness with an air purifier. Many of the items promoted with the term are cheaply built and are about as effective at cleaning the air in your home as a simple table fan would be.


If you are seeking a living air purifier the Alpine Air or Ecoquest brands will be recommended as best buys on most review sites. Before choosing an ionizing air cleaner you should know there are questions in the medical and scientific community about the safety of this type of filter.

Creating negative ions releases ozone into the air. For years it was assumed this was a small release of ozone and therefore carried no health hazards. That may be true of quality built ionizing living air purifiers.

However, when California looked into the subject of air cleaners, agencies were surprised to find 2% of resident were using some type of home air purifier. Many were using the ionizers which had grown so popular with the public. Tests revealed that the ozone levels produced differed widely from one brand to another and sometimes from one air cleaning unit to another.

As a result, you cannot buy or use a living air purifier that uses an ionic component in the state of California. Other states have not followed suit but several are doing their own testing of levels of ozone in homes using the machines.

California’s concern was partially that the combined ozone produced by so many home air cleaners might pose a risk to the state’s outdoor environment as well as to family members in the home.


If you go shopping for a living air purifier the salesman will probably assume you want to buy an ionic air cleaner. That may be what you choose as the ionic products have remained extremely popular.

Beware of cheaply priced off-brands as quality control may be lacking. An air purifier sold for $60 is not a bargain if it does not filter the room air or only removes larger particles of dust and mold from your home. Units are sold based on the size of the room where they will be used and are priced accordingly.

You might find a cheap Living air purifier for a small space that works reasonably well but should expect to pay $300 and up for high quality air purifiers for larger rooms. If you buy a quality air cleaner, it will pay for itself by serving you well for several years.

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