There are few perks to being stuck in an office or cubicle all day. Harsh fluorescent lights and few windows, the weird smell that seems to come standard with every break room refrigerator. Let’s face it; the best part of working in an office is the moment when you leave. Granted, the stagnant air might not be the worst part of the daily grind. But, clean air in the office could make your day a little more bearable.
While there aren’t any federal regulations when it comes to indoor air quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidelines for building owners and managers who want to keep their employees happy and healthy. Within those guidelines, you’ll find multiple suggestions to help keep the air in the workplace relatively fresh and free of major contaminants.
However, there are situations where the air around your desk could use an upgrade. Perhaps it’s in a dusty part of the building. Or, maybe there’s an odor you just can’t pinpoint. If that’s the case, an air purifier can help bring a bit of freshness to the workplace. Below is a table highlighting the best options for an office air purifier.
Overview of Office Air Quality
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations regarding the ventilation in professional buildings. Typically, facilities handle these regulations by installing a HEPA filter in their HVAC systems. While this is a great way to improve the overall air quality in a building, it can only do so much. If you really want to improve the quality of the air in your office, you may need to rely on more than just the building’s HVAC.
What Can You Do?
There are a few ways to improve the air quality in your office, such as plants, fans, and ionizers. Also, ensure that vents aren’t blocked or obstructed. Beyond that, most of the decisions regarding building air quality and circulation are out of your hands. But you can take steps to improve the air quality in small spaces and your immediate work area.
The most effective of those steps – get the best office air purifier you can find. It’s the fastest-acting and most effective way to clean the air and fight office odors in your personal space. However, before you spend your hard-earned cash make sure your new office air purifier includes the following features:
- Compact so it can be stored easily
What is an Air Purifier?
Without going into too much detail, an air purifier is an appliance that cleans the air of airborne pollutants and allergens by forcing the air into a room through a series of high-performance filters. It will usually come with a variety of features like a carbon filter or ionizer. With so many different varieties and types of technology available, it is difficult to pinpoint what will work best for you. Fortunately, there are just a few critical things to learn.
The type of filter you need depends on the quality of the air in your home or office and on the quality you want the air in your home or office to be. In professional, government, and medical buildings, the standard filter to keep the air as clean as possible is a True HEPA filter. True HEPA cleans the air of 99.97% of airborne pollutants, meaning that it is good enough to trap particles as small as 0.3 microns in size—for reference, the average allergen is between 0.35 and 2 microns in size.
An air purifier might also feature a carbon or charcoal filter, sometimes called an Activated Carbon filter. While a carbon filter isn’t the best to capture tiny particles in the air, it is essential for odor removal. Carbon or charcoal is incredibly porous. It soaks up stink like a sponge. So the thing to remember is that a HEPA filter can do a lot, but it will not capture odors, smoke, chemicals, or harsh fumes. If odors in your home or office is a problem, a purifier with a carbon filter is definitely the way to go.
Sometimes an ionizer will be sold as a stand-alone appliance, but it can also come as a feature of your air purifier. What an ionizer does is create an ionic field around your air purifier, attaching negative ions to molecules in order to “electrify” them, and those “electrified” molecules then attach to small particles that might otherwise not get picked up by your filter, making them large enough to cling to the inside of the machine as well as the filter itself or simply fall to the floor.
The problem with ionizers is that they tend to generate small amounts of ozone in the process of creating an electrostatic charge. While a small amount of ozone in the air isn’t technically a bad thing, the EPA requires that employees be exposed to no more than 0.05 parts-per-million of ozone in an eight-hour period, and OSHA standards are no greater than 0.10ppm in an eight-hour period.
Ozone is a dangerous and volatile gas that causes severe lung and olfactory irritation. It is known to aggravate asthma symptoms as well as exaggerate symptoms of people with chronic issues such as COPD or chronic bronchitis. Ozone has also been linked to lowered birth weight in newborns, childhood development of asthma, as well as premature death caused by respiratory issues. Despite all this, some companies sell ozone generators as air cleaners. Others try to hide their ozone generators in their air purifiers, under buzzwords like “mountain-fresh air”, “corona generator”, “activated oxygen”, or “energized oxygen”. The best thing for your health is to AVOID OZONE!!!
Another important feature of any air purifier is its Clean Air Delivery Rate, or CADR. The CADR is measured by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), an independent regulatory organization that appliance manufacturers can choose to have rated their machines. The purpose of a CADR is to have an arbitrary standard by which all air purifiers are measured so that consumers can know exactly how each air purifier compares to each other.
Typically shown as three separate numbers, such as 150/138/300, these three ratings represent the amount of Smoke/Pollen/Dust cleaned from a certain amount of Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM/CPM). Other times, there will be a single number representing the average of those three measurements.
While not all companies have opted into the AHAM verification process, every air purifier will have an area coverage determining the maximum effective range of their air purifiers. Sometimes the number will be small, but the rate of air changes per hour is high.
The higher the rate of air changes per hour, the cleaner your air is, and it also means that you can use your air purifier on slightly larger rooms with the downside being that your rate of air changes per hour will be reduced. Either way, it’s important to keep area coverage in mind, because a 250-square-foot room doesn’t really need an air purifier with an area coverage of about 700-square-feet.
Which is the Best Office Air Purifier?
Below are three air purifiers, with reviews for each. While you can use these reviews to choose which air purifier of these three to buy, you can also use them in order to learn which air purifier is the best for you.
Blueair 203 Review
The Blueair 203 HEPASilent is one of the most highly rated air purifiers on the market. Blueair is a Swedish company dedicated to providing its customers the best quality air possible, and its HEPASilent filter manages to clean the air better than a traditional True HEPA filter while being one of the quieter brands out there.
- Area Coverage of 240 Square Feet
- CADR of 155 CFM
- Sturdy, reliable unit
- Some consumers complain about the noise
- Replacement filters can add up
Envion Ionic Pro Turbo Ionic Air Purifier
The Envion Ionic Pro is an inexpensive air purifier that claims to clean up to 99.9% of airborne pollutants from the air without costing you money on replacement filters. It uses ionizing blades to generate an ionic field that captures allergens and small particles, the same technology that NASA uses in their ionizers.
- No replacement filters
- Ionizing blades
- Energy efficient
- Poor customer service
- Unit can catch fire if not cleaned
- Difficult to maintain
Winix PlasmaWave 5300 Air Cleaner Model
The Winix PlasmaWave 5300 is made for large rooms. Winix engineered it for spaces as large as 350-square-feet. And, it does not produce ozone. With a True HEPA filter and their patented PlasmaWave technology, they clean the air of allergens as well as for odor removal. While they advertise that their air purifiers don’t produce ozone, but the box and the specifications clearly state that a “corona discharge” generator (an ozone generator) is present in this appliance. Also, their PlasmaWave technology produces what is called Hydroxyl radicals, which are also lung irritants.
- Rated for rooms up to 350 Square Feet
- True HEPA filter cleans the air of 99.97% of airborne particles
- PlasmaWave technology
- PlasmaWave technology produces Hydroxyl, which can cause damage to lungs
- Ozone generator in unit though not advertised
- Customers have complained of a bad smell (most likely ozone)
If we had to choose one product as the best office air purifier, we would pick the Blueair as the best air purifier for your workplace cleaning needs. It doesn’t produce ozone, making it perfect for office environments. Plus it quietly cleans the air effectively with HEPASilent technology. Also, without ozone, this air purifier is the safest for anyone in the office who might have respiratory issues. However, if you’re fighting smells, you may want to consider a purifier from Austin Air. They have a lot of odor absorbing carbon compared to other units.