hand adjusting knob personal air purifier on table next to plant

Personal air purifiers are portable, often wearable devices that clean the air around you. In this roundup, we’ll discuss the details of how air purifiers work and why you might choose a personal air purifier. We’ll also take a look at some of our favorite models. 

You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the air you breathe day in and day out, but maybe you should. Air quality plays an important role in protecting your health and wellness, so it isn’t something you should just brush off. Poor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma, but it can also put you at risk for contracting airborne illnesses. 

An air purifier is one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality and protect yourself from airborne contaminants. Whole-home air purifiers can be expensive, so you might want to consider a different option: a personal air purifier.

How Does an Air Purifier Work? 

What does an air purifier do?” you may be wondering. An air purifier is simply a device that sanitizes the air, removing airborne particulate matter including dust, pet dander, smoke and even bacteria and viruses. They differ from air filters which simply trap particles in that they actually neutralize them, depending on the type of purification and filtration technology they involve. 

Air purifiers typically consist of a fan that sucks air into the device where it passes through one or more filters. Many air purifiers utilize pre-filters which capture larger particles like dust and pet hair along with activated carbon filters which help with smoke and odors. HEPA filters are the most effective in removing small particulate matter like bacteria and viruses. 

Personal Air Purifiers vs. Home Air Purifiers 

Now that you know how air purifiers work, you may be wondering about the difference between a personal air purifier and a standard or home air purifier. Knowing the difference between the two is important for choosing the right option for you. 

A personal air purifier is a relatively small, portable device that can generally purify the air immediately around you. They’re generally not equipped to handle the particle load in medium to large rooms or a whole house — that’s what standard and whole-home air purifiers are for. 

Personal air purifiers take many shapes and forms from small, portable models that sit on the desk or table near you to models you can wear around your neck. These devices typically use ionization technology which produces negative ions that give particles in the air an electric charge. This causes the particles to stick to surfaces, making them easy to neutralize with a sanitizing spray or wipe. 

Home air purifiers use a variety of different technologies to improve air quality. While some use ionization technology, most rely on a series of filters including HEPA filters and activated carbon filters. Some air purifiers use UV technology to destroy airborne microorganisms and others produce ozone to do it. 

Do Personal Air Purifiers Really Work? 

There is a great deal of research supporting the use of air purifiers for improving indoor air quality, but the efficacy of individual purifiers vary. Certain types of purification technology are more effective than others and it’s important to choose a device rated for the space you’re using it in. If the device isn’t large enough, it won’t be as effective. 

When it comes to personal air purifiers, it’s important to understand a few basics. Most personal air purifiers use ionization technology. As we’ve already mentioned, this causes particles in the air to become electrically charged so they adhere to surfaces like furniture, walls, and flooring. Ionization doesn’t neutralize the particles – it only removes them from the air. 

The key detail here is that the particles may be removed from the air, but they’re still in the room. To remove solid particles and destroy microorganisms, you’ll need to clean the surfaces with some kind of disinfectant. If you don’t, the particles could become airborne again if the surface is disturbed. 

Another factor to consider is that ionization technology produces small amounts of ozone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ozone is a lung irritant and it can make the air harder to breathe. This may not be a significant issue, but it could be something to consider if you have asthma or other respiratory afflictions. 

The Best Personal Air Purifiers

Personal air filters and purifiers are a great option for anyone who is concerned about indoor air quality. Whether you suffer from allergies or asthma, or you simply want to protect yourself against airborne contaminants, one of the following personal air purifiers could be a good choice:

Molekule Air Mini+ Air Purifier 

If you are willing to make a significant investment in improving the quality of the air you breathe, the Molekule Air Mini+ is FDA-cleared to destroy viruses. It is a 510(k) Class II medical device equipped with Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology.

The Molekule Air Mini+ is a cylindrical device that measures about 8 inches across and 12 inches high. It is rated for small spaces up to 250 square feet and has a convenient carrying handle. This device destroys viruses, bacteria, allergens, mold, chemical contaminants and more. It comes with a 6-month filter and is ready to use immediately. 

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Pure Enrichment PureZone Portable Air Purifier

Take the power of air purification wherever you go with this rechargeable air purifier. This model from Pure Enrichment features a true HEPA filter and a USB charging port. Its small size makes it perfectly portable so you can use it at home, in the car, or on the go.

The Pure Enrichment PureZone personal air purifier utilizes 2-stage filtration technology. An activated carbon filter neutralizes smoke and odor while a true HEPA filter traps microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns. It is affordably priced and comes in five colors.

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Levoit LV-H132 Personal True HEPA Air Purifier

When it comes to improving indoor air quality, a personal HEPA air purifier is a great option. This model from Levoit features a 3-stage filtration system in a compact device you can take with you from room to room. It’s rated for spaces up to 129 square feet.

The Levoit LV-H132 personal air purifier uses true HEPA filtration to trap particles as small as 0.3 microns, including allergens like smoke, dust, and pollen. It has a sleek, modern design and operates as low as 25dB on the lowest fan speed. 

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IQAir Atem Desk Air Purifier 

Not all personal air filters are unwieldy. The IQAir Atem is designed to sit on your desk or on the table and it is rated for spaces up to 150 square feet. This model may be pricier than other options, but it features an exclusive HyperHEPA filter to trap ultra-fine particles as small as 0.003 microns in size. 

This personal air purifier does the work of multiple air purifiers in one device. It can be used at home in small rooms, in the car, at your desk, and for travel. Instead of taking hours to clean the air in a whole room, it immediately purifies the air in your personal breathing zone and redirects it toward you with an adjustable PureJet diffuser.

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Bottom Line 

If you’re concerned about indoor air quality, an air purifier could be a sound investment. Because whole-home units are expensive, you might be considering a personal air purifier that you can use in whatever room you’re in or even wear around your neck. 

As a convenient and affordable way to improve the quality of the air you breathe, a personal air purifier could be a great option and you really can’t go wrong with any of the four models we’ve reviewed above.