Buying an air purifier for pollen allergies
Many of us know pollen as the yellow dust that covers our cars and roads during high pollen season and makes many of us allergic. Did you know, however, that pollen is absolutely crucial to the survival of a healthy ecosystem? Did you also know that pollen allergy has been on the rise in both incidence and severity as a result of air pollution and poor air quality? Read on to learn more about how an air purifier for pollen can help you fight against pollen allergy at home.
Where does pollen come from?
In short, pollen consists of pollen grains that contain a plant’s male gametes. A pollinator (which may include bees, wasps, bats, birds, butterflies, and moths, to name a few) transports these male gametes to the female part of a plant (flowers). For flowering plants and gymnosperms, they cannot reproduce without relying on external vectors like pollinators, wind, and water1.
This does mean that when pollen particles are transported, it ends up in our breathing air and/or on outdoor surfaces. We can easily track pollen into our homes on our clothes, shoes, skin, and hair. It can easily settle onto our indoor surfaces like furniture and textiles and in rugs, bedding, and sofas. Our pets can also bring pollen into the home on their fur, as can insects.
Furthermore, when pollen particles are airborne, wind can bring them into our homes through open windows and doors, even if they are only cracked. This increases pollen concentration indoors. Even our ventilation systems that bring outdoor air in or vice versa can give pollen access to our indoor spaces. This can lead to major contributions to indoor air pollution which is, on average, 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor air pollution. As a result, indoor pollen concentration can sometimes exceed outdoor pollen concentration.
Allergies to pollen
Allergy to pollen can trigger allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. These two terms refer to seasonal allergies and affect 10 to 30% of the world’s population.
For those who experience pollen allergy, symptoms of an allergy to airborne pollen particles can vary greatly. They can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks and may range from mild to severe.
Some mild symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion
- Irritated eyes, nose, and throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Problems concentrating and/or sleeping
Severe symptoms may include:
- Sinus pain due to congestion
- Loss of smell or taste
Additionally, a pollen allergy may trigger asthma attacks in asthma sufferers. This may lead to symptoms like chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and wheezing (a whistling noise when breathing and/or coughing).
Amongst the most allergenic types of pollen are ragweed pollen, tree pollen, and grass pollen. Be sure to consult an allergist to identify precisely which types of pollen to which you are allergic.
Causes of pollen allergy
When a person experiences allergies, the body mistakenly identifies a normally harmless substance as dangerous. This initiates an immune response and the release of histamines. For someone who has pollen allergy, the immune system detects airborne pollen and springs into action, creating allergy symptoms.
Unlike other allergies, pollen allergy is seasonal, typically occurring in the spring or summer. Pollen season may last for several weeks to several months and occurs when plants are flowering, but studies are now showing that climate change and air pollution are negatively impacting pollen seasons. Specifically, pollen season is being prolonged and the allergenicity of the pollen itself is increasing. One study demonstrated that the presence of ozone (an air pollutant and greenhouse gas), specifically, led to more severe allergy symptoms in pollen allergy sufferers during birch, grass, and ragweed pollen seasons2.
How to manage pollen allergy
Pollen particles can be difficult to avoid completely because they are transported by the wind and easily inhaled. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure in the home and outdoors such as:
- Monitor pollen counts daily, especially during pollen season
- Wear a mask outdoors if pollen counts are high and reduce the time you spend outdoors, especially around midday when pollen is at its peak
- Wear glasses to minimise eye irritation when outdoors
- Keep your windows closed during the day at home, at the office, and in your car whilst driving
- Remove your shoes and jacket before going inside your home
- Keep a journal of your symptoms, noting when and where they occur most. Some things to note may be:
- Do they occur most indoors or outdoors? In certain rooms of your home?
- How long are you experiencing symptoms?
- Do your symptoms appear during the day, at night, or when you wake up?
- Are they worse during a particular time of year?
- Does the presence of your pets or animals aggravate your symptoms?
- Do you feel worse after having been bitten by an insect, after having consumed a particular food or drink, or after having taken a certain medication (prescribed or herbal)?
- Install a high-performing HEPA-certified air purifier that is designed to remove pollen particles in either your living room or bedroom at home to combat your symptoms
The benefits of an air purifier for pollen
Investing in an at-home air purifier, also known as an air sanitiser or air steriliser, to combat your pollen allergy can considerably help relieve uncomfortable pollen allergy symptoms and improve your quality of life. This can provide much needed respite for allergy sufferers all throughout the day and whilst you sleep.
An air purifier designed to tackle pollen in your indoor air is also effective at removing fine particles from the air. A HEPA-certified filter removes 99.95% of airborne allergens and contaminants down to a size of 0.01 μm from your room or space. These may include dust and dust mites, mould and mildew, germs (viruses like COVID-19 and bacteria), and fine particle pollution (also known as particulate matter or PM), to name a few.
Naturally, using an air purifier to remove the above contaminants and particles leads to improved air quality in your home! This ensures a healthier living environment, protecting you from the many dangers and discomforts resulting from poor air quality. Furthermore, for pollen allergy sufferers, an air purifier for pollen can help improve your sleep quality and can protect you from resorting to medication and their potential side effects.
How to choose an air purifier for pollen?
When choosing an air purifier to combat pollen allergy, there are a few factors to consider.
It is important to choose an air purifier containing a medical-grade HEPA-certified filter. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters remove 99.95% of airborne allergens and particles down to a size of 0.01 μm. Typically, pollen grains measure from 10 to 100 μm, so a HEPA filter that is adapted to filtering particles of this size is crucial3. All of Eoleaf’s devices contain a medical-grade HEPA H13 filter. Keep in mind that ‘HEPA-type’ filters are not guaranteed to have the same filtration quality or capacity as true HEPA filters.
Air purifiers can come equipped with other technologies like activated carbon filters, UV sterilisation, photocatalysis, and ionisation. These technologies are great for fighting other types of airborne pollutants which can aggravate allergy symtoms as mentioned above. Activated carbon filters are also designed to remove odour-causing gaseous contaminants and chemicals and can help remove bad odours from your space! Ideally, some or all of these technologies should be combined with a HEPA filter for optimal filtration.
Air purifiers are made to filter the air in a room or space of a given size. Ensure that your air purifier for pollen is properly sized. It is also helpful to have a device with wheels so that you can move it from one room to another. If your goal is to purify the air in multiple rooms of your home (like in both a living room and bedroom, places most commonly associated with pollen allergy), you might need to purchase multiple devices. Eoleaf offers a wide range of devices that cover all sizes from a smaller room (like our AERO PRO 40 model) to an entire house (like our AERO PRO 150 model).
Clean air delivery rate (CADR) and air changes per hour (ACH) are two other important metrics! CADR is a measurement of an air purifier’s efficiency in removing pollutants from your indoor air. The CADR rate of a device determines the volume of clean air diffused per hour. It allows you to know what volume of air, and therefore what size of room, can be treated effectively by the device. ACH is the amount of times per hour that a room’s entire volume of air is renewed with purified air. An ACH value of 5, for example, means that the air is replaced 5 times per hour, which is what the CDC recommends as the minimum ACH value.
The following simple equation is how you can calculate ACH:
- ACH = CADR / Volume of room
- To learn more about CADR and ACH, refer to our Buying Guide. Also feel free to contact us to size your project.
Different rooms and spaces have different limits on noise. For example, if you plan to install an air purifier for pollen in a bedroom or office, be sure to purchase an air purifier that is powerful yet quiet to avoid disturbing the users of these settings.
Budget and energy consumption
Yes, the initial cost of an air purifier for pollen is an important factor when considering your budget for an air purifier, but it is not the only factor! Air purifiers come with other costs like filter changes and energy consumption. All of these costs can vary significantly depending upon the options, capacity, and filtration technologies offered by the air purifier (another note about ‘HEPA-type’ filters: they may be cheaper, but their efficacy is not guaranteed!). Frequency of filter changes and energy efficiency also play a part in budgeting and selecting a device. Make sure to look for an air purifier with technologies and a performance based on your needs (i.e. a HEPA filter for fighting pollen).
1 Background sheet - What is pollen?. The University of Western Australia. (2011). https://www.uwa.edu.au/study/-/media/Faculties/Science/Docs/What-is-pollen.pdf
2 Berger M, Bastl M, Bouchal J, Dirr L, Berger U. The influence of air pollution on pollen allergy sufferers. Allergol Select. 2021 Dec 1;5:345-348. doi: 10.5414/ALX02284E. PMID: 34870078; PMCID: PMC8638356.
3 Burks, A. W., & Palmer, K. P. (2008). Allergies. Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, 41–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-012370877-9.00006-2