Air purifiers, dehumidifiers and air quality testers for better breathing

Our houses are our shrines — a fact that became evident to many people last year when they suddenly had to spend all their time there. But your indoor air can be dirtier than you think, which could make it uncomfortable in the home and even make you sick.

There are a few things you can do to help and devices you can buy, such as an air purifier, dehumidifier, and humidifier. But they ain’t cheap so you don’t need spend money on anything if you aren’t already struggling with your indoor air quality. They are potential tools, not necessities. While their names are self-explanatory, it’s not as easy to determine when each is actually needed in your home. We’ve talked to experts, read research reports, and tested some products. Below you will find what we found and what we recommend.

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What’s wrong with indoor air?

The air, unfortunately, is dirty. Usually it is full of dust; animal dander; outdoor pollutants, which can include smoke from forest fires depending on where you live; formaldehyde, which can come from wooden furniture; and special case. Your indoor air can also include a number of volatile organic compounds. However, VOCs on the whole are not a health problem, only specific problems, and these vary from house to house.

The World Health Organization estimates that nine in ten people are exposed to air pollution which increases their risk of contracting several diseases, including stroke, heart disease and cancer.

“Many pollutants can be found in a person’s home depending on many factors such as the geographic location or age of the home and the building materials used,” says Joe Heaney, president of Lotus Biosecurity, a company in the field of improving indoor air quality. “If you have a house with a wood stove or fireplace, these are likely to introduce particles into your indoor air, which can cause a range of symptoms and respiratory illnesses. Mold, dust or animal hair can be a source of allergies, and pathogens (although non-polluting) brought into the home by friends and neighbors can cause illness.

On a basic level, when the air inside is stuffy, too dry, or too humid, it affects the way you feel, worsening cold and allergy symptoms, dries out your sinuses and skin, and causes even mold growth. But it can be much worse than that.

“Poor indoor air quality can affect even the healthiest lungs,” says Kenneth Mendez, president of the American Asthma and Allergy Foundation. “Pollutants can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. This can trigger allergy symptoms, including chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and even asthma attacks.

To see the test section below on how to monitor the air in your home, but before you test your air or buy anything, first try to tackle some of the main causes of dirty air. “We like to focus on technologies, but the process is much more important,” says Jeffrey Siegel, researcher at University of Toronto which studies indoor air quality, air filtration and purification. Here are the steps he recommends:

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