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Are UV Air Purifiers Safe?


It’s a shocking fact: Americans, on average, spend well over 90% of our time indoors. This means we’re constantly breathing indoor air, full of the recirculated germs someone else has sneezed out and the odors from last night’s fried fish or your teenager’s sneakers. Depending on the time of year, it’s not always possible to fling all the windows open and get some fresh air.

That means that your best bet for breathing air that’s free of pathogens and smelly bacteria is an air purifier. Ultraviolet light is an amazing way to purify air and kill all those germs. But are UV air purifiers safe? Here’s what you need to know.

How UV Air Purifiers Work

Some systems for improving your indoor air quality are simply filtration systems, catching and trapping particles in a filter of folded paper, cellulose, carbon, or fiberglass. This is great for bigger specks of dust, pet hair, and other large contaminants. UV air purifiers include a filter as well, but then they take things a step further.

After the air passes through the filter, it is exposed to ultraviolet light at a very specific frequency. That light has an amazing effect. It’s very bad for tiny organic particles such as pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and even viruses. It undoes the chemical bonds that keep these tiny guys together, unraveling their proteins like a fork scrambling an egg. Instead of simply trapping them in a filter, this system kills them.

Portable Vs. Whole Home Air Purifiers

A portable air purifier is a single boxy unit that draws air in, purifies it, and blows it out again. This is ideal for enclosed areas that are quite small. A dorm room would be a perfect example. A whole home air purifier is added to the home’s HVAC system and is the only way to make a significant impact on the air quality throughout the entire home.

UV Light and Your Safety

If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you know that direct exposure to ultraviolet light does carry a significant risk. You certainly don’t want to shine it onto yourself day and night in an effort to clean the air that you’re breathing. But in these systems, the UV light is completely contained. It’s only shining inside your ductwork, where you won’t be exposed to it at all, and even direct exposure would take quite a while to affect you, just like the sun.


There is one other thing to be aware of with UV air purifiers. They can produce ozone, which is simply oxygen with an additional molecule. Ozone is great for destroying unpleasant odors. But if the concentration of ozone gets too high, it can irritate the respiratory system, particularly for asthma sufferers. 

UV air purifiers address this in a couple of different ways. Some use a particular wavelength of ultraviolet light, UV-C, which produces less ozone. Others use special filters to eliminate the ozone or a titanium dioxide catalyst to neutralize it. 

A member of our team would love to talk with you about our UV air purifier services in Mandeville, LA, and which air purifier options would be ideal for your home.

When you need it done right, contact Professional Heating & Air.

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