Product Review:† Air Purifiers
As a consumer with allergies, I’ve been very interested in recent products on the market that remove particles from the air and/or kill germs.  I cook a lot, and I don’t like cooking odors getting into my closets.  Also, being a dog lover, I’ve been told by others that my home and car smell like a kennel on occasion! For those who live in condominium units, apartments, or townhouses, fumes from neighboring units can be a serious problem, especially when surrounded by smokers. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, and fumes can gain access to your home through gaps around plumbing and electrical wiring. While air purifiers can't eliminate this problem, they can help to control or reduce the amount of toxic fumes you breathe or that settle on walls and furniture in your home or office.
I began by investigating the availability of air purifiers in the various department stores in my area.† Most products were around $100 and required replacement filters that were typically half the price of the unit.† These units were also fairly smallósuitable to clean a large room, but not an entire home.† Larger units might cost roughly $500.
The first product I tried was the Heaven Fresh XJ-201.† It plugs directly into an outlet and came with an extra set of ionic plates.† This is convenient because you can change the plates and clean them without interrupting the operation of the unit.† The unit can be plugged into a power bar or surge protector, but if you plug it into a wall socket you will lose the use of one outlet while itís plugged in.† This means that you may not want it in your bathroom, but the unit does include a night light, so it may work for you there.
After trying one of these purifiers I was so impressed that I purchased two more to use in different rooms.† There is a noticeable aesthetic difference in the air quality immediately, and when you walk into a room that has one of these plugged in, the air smells fresh and clean.† I decided to try a larger unit with an adapter to use in the bathroom because I didnít want to lose the use of one outlet with the smaller unit; this larger unit comes with a car adapter as well.† I ordered the XJ-2000; it is more powerful and will clean a larger area.† Hydro to operate this unit costs $6 per year.†
Having become a bit of a collector at this point, I made an impulse buy of the germguardian I found in a local department store.† This product is described as killing germs and spores with the use of a UV-C light bulb.† The light bulb contains mercury and must be properly disposed of at the correct facility and replaced at the cost of $15.99 USD plus shipping charges every 8-10 months.† It makes a loud grinding noise because it has a fan, unlike the Heaven Fresh unit, which uses negative ions to draw the air in. Heaven Fresh units make a soft, soothing, airy sound, unlike a fan.
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In addition, the germguardian claims to destroy odors in the air.† Having used it in my bedroom at night, I canít say that it has kept the air smelling fresh.† The germguardian unit I purchased plugs into a wall socket but doesn't have to block the second outlet.† It has no functional nightlight, however, so using it in the bathroom is awkward. The company does sell a stand-alone unit that cleans a large area and doesn't block the electrical outlet. Sometimes these can be found on the company website at a reduced price.

An important caution regarding the germguardian is that you must clean the air intake areas regularly. The fan draws in all kinds of dust and spores that will clog the unit and cause the fan to wear out from overheating. After having my unit for a few years, the fan became noisy. You can't open the unit to clean or oil the fan--it is factory sealed. This means that if the fan wears out, you have to replace the whole unit.

In its favor, the germguardian does seem to have prevented routine bouts of the flu. After having been exposed to others suffering from extremely severe, unpleasant flu episodes, I might feel that I had contracted the virus. However, the only time I developed a full-blown case of a flu or cold was when I had forgotten to change the bulb in the germguardian at the correct time: its UV-Cbulb must be changed every 8-10 months. This isn't as easy to remember as a regular yearly maintenance, and is something you would want to mark on your calendar.

When you clean the ionic plates of the Heaven Fresh Ionic Air Purifier you can see that mold and dirt particles are being removed from the air.† This is more noticeable in the summer months when my windows are open and dirt is coming in from a nearby road.† In winter, with the windows closed, the plates donít become dirty nearly as often.† In summer, itís best to clean the plates every week, while in winter every few weeks seems adequate. The finish on the plates begins to corrode almost immediately; I'm not sure what effect this has on the effectiveness of the unit.

The cost of the germguardian was $10 more than the Heaven Fresh Ionic Air Purifier XJ-2001 and cleans roughly the same sized room (450 cubic feet).† In its favor, it emits no ozone; however, be very careful when changing the bulb: do not look at the unit when you turn it on. The germguardian has an on/off switch that you should use when unplugging it or changing the bulb. When you first turn it on the light can be very bright despite being encased in a tinted cover.

The Heaven Fresh products emit ozone as a by-product within recommended safe levels.† Unsafe ozone levels will aggravate asthma and headaches, so you would have tangible evidence if that became a problem. I have noticed that I tend to cough more when sitting within a metre of the Heaven Fresh unit. People who keep parrots as pets should be careful to operate the unit at a safe distance from a bird's cage.

The Heaven Fresh company has another interesting product that protects and disinfects toothbrushes (Heaven Fresh Toothbrush Sanitizer GT100).† This seems like a great, unique gift for a health conscious person.† As you probably know, itís recommended to keep your toothbrushes as far from the toilet as possible, because when flushed, tiny water droplets fly through the air carrying contaminants from the sewer pipe.† We tend to assume that the toilet takes the dirty stuff away and doesnít admit germs, but studies done after the polio outbreaks of the early 20th Century revealed that polio spread in areas where indoor plumbing had been installed.† So, remember to close the lid before flushing.

Another option to consider are the air purifiers that come with a washable filter. The initial cost will be greater, but you should expect years of service from these units. These units do not kill germs, but trap them. Of course, regular cleaning is important as it would be with a water filter.

Any product that is able to kill germs should be used with caution. It's reasonable to expect that such a product could be harmful to people and pets when not used properly.

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