Consumer Reports tests air purifiers

August 30, 2010 Testers use a special chamber to assess each unit. In one test, they fill the chamber with fine, powdered clay dust. In another test, cigarette smoke is used. Then testers measure how quickly each air cleaner removes the particles from the air.

Some expensive ones had problems. The $400 Oreck Proshield Plus AIR12GU didn't do a good job at cleaning the air and also produced low levels of ozone. That's a respiratory irritant!

The $400 LightAir IonFlow 50F Surface air cleaner was even worse. It was about as effective at removing dust and smoke as having no air cleaner at all.

In fact, Consumer Reports says unless you have asthma or allergies, you probably don't need an air cleaner. If you do suffer from a respiratory condition, there are steps you can take before buying one:

*Put dust mite covers on your mattress and pillows
*Remove any wall-to-wall carpeting
*Don't let any pets into your bedroom

If you still have symptoms after taking those measures, Consumer Reports did find some air purifiers that performed very well. The $300 Whirlpool #AP51030K is top-rated. It's very quiet and has a filter-replacement indicator, which is a very helpful feature.

If you have a forced-air heating or cooling system in your home, you can replace the system's filter with a whole-house filter. Those are supposed to be more effective against dust, smoke, and pollen. Consumer Reports evaluated several of those. Top rated is one from 3M, the Filtrete Elite Allergen 2200, which costs $25.

Statement from Oreck Corporation concering Consumer Reports test:

".....Oreck is an ETL certified laboratory and Oreck products are tested extensively before they go to market. Oreck products are produced in America and Oreck has only the well being of Americans as their main concern for the past 50 years. As a World War II fighter pilot, founder David Oreck believes everyone in America has the right to cleaner indoor air not just people with asthma and allergies as Consumer Reports states. Minute quantities of ozone are emitted by all electric motors. Oreck products are compliant and emit less ozone than standards allow..."

Statement from LightAir products concerning Consumer Reports test:

The IonFlow technology and the LightAir products have been tested in different ways in Sweden, Finland, Germany, China etc. The important consumer program of a large German TV-channel tested the IonFlow 50 right on television proving very good results. As you understand it is not easy to comment on their (Consumer Reports) test & evaluation without having the full and detailed test report.

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