Is Personal Air Purifier Effective? Things to Consider Before You Make a Purchase

Air purifiers are believed to kill bacteria and viruses, clean the air from smoke, allergens, and many other air contaminants. How about a personal air purifier? Is it really effective as a traditional model? Let’s discuss it in this article.

Personal Air Purifier

Air purification is a hot topic right now mostly because of the possibility to be infected with Covid-19 by breathing in droplets.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) has identified biological contaminants in the air as bacteria, viruses, animal dander, and house dust.  Poor indoor air quality can also result from indoor fireplaces, smoking, and other pollutants, according to the EPA.

Poor indoor air quality can make it especially difficult for those with allergies or asthma. Both conditions can be made worse if there are allergens in your air.

You can find relief for those who are particularly sensitive to pollutants, frequent travelers, or people who travel frequently in air-conditioned vehicles.

Therefore, it is natural to want to keep the air around your body as clean as possible. Do personal air purifiers really do the job? I have made a research and will give all the facts about personal purifiers. Read about how they work, what types available in the market and for how long you should wear them.

What is a personal Air Purifier?

You might already use a standard air purifier at your home. It is a fantastic device to clean the air at your home especially if you live in areas with often natural fires, suffer from allergies, or simply want to breathe safe and pure air in your home.

A personal air purifier is pretty much the same device. It is smaller has a lighter weight and can be taken with you wherever you want. They are extremely portable and easy to recharge. No matter where you keep it, whether on your neck, in your bag, or on your desk, you can be assured that fresh and clean air is not far away.

Even though you may think a personal air purifier is less powerful than the larger version, you could find that it provides better air than the traditional model at home. And the reason is that you always keep it very close to yourself.

The majority of personal air purifiers wearables do not have filters. Instead, they use ionization to clean your air. But some models also have physical filters, such as HEPA.

HEPA filtration is one of the best indicators of a purifier’s ability to keep the surrounding air clean, so we can understand the disappointment here. However, there are a myriad of different filterless air purifiers that may also be worth considering in a full-size home.

I have found and considered in this article two main types of personal purifiers – wearable and small desktop versions. We will discuss both types later in the article.

To summarize let have a look at all pros and cons of personal air purifiers:

  • It can be easily recharged
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Easy to maintain
  • Relatively quiet
  • This is a great choice for small spaces
  • Perfect for single users
  • Can have difficulty in larger spaces
  • Little HEPA support and UV bulb support
  • Multiple people might find it difficult to get enough air.

Now, Let me mention the key characteristics of personal purifiers. This will help you understand the

What are the key features you should be paying attention to?

The Filtration Technology

“Ionic technology” is used by most wearable personal air purifiers. It sends out ions to eliminate contaminants.

Ionic technology can be used with smaller devices. It is simple and effective. This is why Ionic technology is so common in personal air purifiers. However, this is not the only technology. HEPA is the second most widely used filtration technology.

HEPA filters can be a bit more effective than ionic technology but are much heavier. HEPA filters will make a personal purifier much heavier than a simple ionic device.

HEPA filters work by pushing the air through several smaller filters that remove any harmful particles. Once the air has been filtered, it is removed from the purifier.

Ionic technology purifiers are very lightweight. If you need something more effective but heavier, choose a purifier using HEPA filters.

Personal air purifier

Area coverage

The average standard air purifier can cover an area of approximately 200 feet, the bigger one – up to 1,500 feet. A personal air purifier (desktop versions) can cover an area of 30 feet on average. Wearable ones will purify the air around you only.

Recharging and Battery Life

Battery life is always an important consideration. Good news that most wearable air purifiers can last over 200 hours. Those that also have fans will last up to 10 hours less.

Recharging is also a very simple proccess. Wearable personal air purifiers are USB-compatible. Everyone has access to a USB port or plug-in these days, and if you are at the office, you can plug it into the computer to charge it. Even those purifiers that only support plug-in aren’t terrible, they lack the convenience of a USB connection.

2 types of personal air purifiers

1. Wearable personal air purifiers

There are many options for devices that you could wear around your body to purify the air. These devices are often worn around your neck as a necklace or loop. The products often use ionization for cleaning the air. It’s the same technology used in some plug-in air purifiers.

Personal air purifier
Wearable air purifier

How does personal ionic air purifiers work?

An air purifier that uses ionization releases negative ions into your air. High school chemistry taught you that atoms have either a positive charge or a negative one. Ions attract each other. If the purifier emits ions, it charges particles, such as viruses, animal fur, or particulate pollutant. 

These particles may be pulled back to a charging component in larger room air purifiers. The air purifier you wear around your neck is designed to repel particles that land on surfaces.

Are personal ionic air purifiers effective?

Ionizers can be effective at removing particles from the air, including viruses and bacteria. But obviously, due to its small size, the personal air purifier will not be able to clean much air around you.

Are personal ionic air purifiers dangerous?

According to a 2018 study by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2018, the negative ions emitted by air purifiers are not harmful to your body.

The problem with ionizers is that they can produce ozone. This is a serious respiratory danger. Some researchers stated that it is not a good idea to wear an ionizer around your neck as there are potential ozone exposures. Ozone can cause secondary reactions, which can result in the formation of harmful substances like formaldehyde.

2 Desktop personal air purifiers

A personal air purifier can be used in a single place if you are concerned about air quality. These devices are smaller and more portable than larger room-sized cleaners. However, they can still sit on a surface.

Personal air purifier
Desktop personal air purifier

How do desktop personal purifiers work?

There are many options for personal air purifiers. Most of them use a filter system to trap particles such as viruses, pollen and small inhalable pollutants that can cause harm to your health. The filter system then lets clean air return to the room.

According to the EPA some personal air purifiers come with activated charcoal filters that can capture gases. Another option is ionization technology that can be found in necklace-style air purifiers.

These air purifiers do not only work in an office. They can work at a desk or on a table next to a chair. You can unplug them easily and move them around.

Are desktop personal air purifiers effective?

The performance of a desktop personal air purifier will depend on its specific specifications and size of the area. For instance, an air purifier that is small will not work in large rooms as well as a larger model.

For all filter-based purifiers, no matter how large, it is recommended to choose a high-performance particulate filter (HEPA), which is considered the gold standard by air quality experts. 

HEPA filter refers to a pleated mechanical filter that removes at least 99.97% pollen and bacteria. They are also more effective at capturing larger particles.

Another important feature to pay attention to is the clean-air delivery rate (CADR). You will find a label on an air purifier that will show you the clean air delivery rate (CADR) and that it can also be used to indicate how large a room the cleaner is suitable for.

While a higher CADR can be better, if your goal is to target a small space, a lower cad may be enough. As long as it fits in the recommended room size, it will make an impact.

Are personal desktop air purifiers dangerous?

HEPA filters for desktop air purifiers do not pose a danger. Any type of air purifier that has a HEPA filter is safe can be used to clean your air.

Do wearable purifiers work?

Ionization, a new method of decontaminating air, is used in wearable purifiers. The claims make it sound like it will work. Although there are many ionic air purifiers available, some can only be found in smaller sizes and have been installed in some homes. This is a fair point to question, considering that an air purifier installed in large open spaces (such as roads) can’t be considered 100% effective.

Skepticism comes from the fact that an air purifier’s effectiveness in open areas (such as streets) can not be described as absolute.
Aerosol Science and Technology journal already reported that wearable air purifiers have been shown to be capable of reducing pollutant levels. However, the study involved restricted spaces. These devices can be used in stationary positions, such as inside cars and planes, or while one is standing still.

There is no scientific evidence to support wearing an air purifier in situations that involve the person moving around in open spaces. 

What type of filter do Wearable Purifiers use and why?

Most wearable purifiers use no filter and rely only on the ionization process to “scrub the air”. However, some might still use a physical filter like HEPA.

Can Personal Air Purifiers Be Taken on a Flight?

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Air purifiers that are used while onboard an airplane are not subject to any restrictions. Manufacturers claim that their products can be used in aircraft. It is also a good idea that you speak to the manufacturer in order to verify that the model you have has been accepted by the airline.

Can wearable purifiers be used to cover personal odors and strong perfume?

Wearable air purifiers using ionization have the best results against particulate pollutants like smoke, dust, allergens, and pet hair. They don’t address odor molecules. Therefore, wearable air purifiers can’t eliminate body odor.
The protection of strong perfumes is not guaranteed by wearable air purifiers. If your main concern is fragrance sensitivity, you might consider a portable or larger-sized air purifier that has carbon filters.


Keep in mind that air purification is only an option when you need clean air. First, you must eliminate the source. To put it in perspective, you can stop smoking indoors or anywhere; your health and well-being will be greatly improved. Next, ventilate your indoor space. A personal air purifier is another option. Jones believes that personal air purifiers could be useful for people who cannot change their environment in any other manner

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