Can Air Purifiers Cause Respiratory Problems?

Before buying my first air purifier, I did a lot of research to make sure that the air purifier was safe for my plants, my pets, and myself.

I did all that research by reading some stories online accusing air purifiers of causing respiratory problems.

And since my respiratory system isn’t the best (I have a lot of allergies), it only made sense for me to dig deeper and find the answer to my question.

It’s been several years since then, and I know that plenty of people out there (you included) are wondering whether their air purifier can be the cause of recent respiratory issues.

So, to help put your mind at ease, I’ll explore the topic in great detail and let you know all of my findings in this article.

After that, I’ll look closely at what air purifiers can irritate your respiratory system and how to find an air purifier that won’t.

Is My Air Purifier Causing Respiratory Problems?

There’s a high chance that your air purifier isn’t the reason behind your respiratory problems.

Modern air purifiers are designed and manufactured carefully in accordance to tight and very strict regulations to ensure that they only purify the air and don’t cause any other problems as a result. 

However, there are still some air purifiers out there that can cause respiratory distress.

This is because some air purifiers have technology that releases ozone into the air.

And while inhaling ozone isn’t a problem since we don’t encounter a lot of it in our daily lives, if your air purifier releases ozone in an enclosed space, it can start to trigger your respiratory system.

Some respiratory issues you’re likely to face include breathing problems and wheezing.

These are all major causes of concern for a lot of people. And if you already have respiratory problems, these ozone-generating air purifiers can become an even bigger problem.

Many air purifier manufacturers choose to add an ozone generator to the machine because it can produce a “fresh” smell, similar to chlorine.

If you can smell a chlorine-like aroma when you turn on your air purifier, this could indicate that it’s producing ozone, and it might be the reason for your respiratory issues.

What Kinds of Air Purifiers Cause Respiratory Problems?

Any air purifier that produces ozone is one you want to avoid. While the risks are very slim, these air purifiers can be dangerous, so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.

If you see an air purifier that says it has an ozone generator, don’t bother with it and find one that doesn’t.

However, these aren’t the only air purifiers that produce ozone. There are quite a few air purifiers on the market with ionizers.

These devices release negative ions into the air, which weighs down harmful solid particles before they end up in your lungs.

With that said, there are air purifiers out there that have an ionizer that can be turned on and off.

If that’s the case with the model you’re looking at, then sure, it’s not a bad choice.

However, if the ionizer is on every time the air purifier is in use, stay away from it.

How to Find Air Purifiers That Won’t Cause Respiratory Problems

When I learned that some air purifiers could cause respiratory issues, I was skeptical about buying one as a whole.

I just didn’t want to take any chances and make my situation worse.

However, after reading about all the benefits of having an air purifier at home, I knew I needed to buy one.

But to keep everything safe, I researched which air purifiers won’t give me these issues.

Luckily, most high-quality air purifiers don’t cause respiratory problems.

And I’ve compiled a couple of tips that you should use if you’re about to go out and buy yourself an air purifier and don’t want to end up with a unit that can be the reason behind onset of respiratory issues.

Avoid Ozone-Generating Air Purifiers

As I mentioned earlier, people believe air purifiers cause respiratory problems because they generate ozone.

So, if you see an air purifier claiming to use ozone to purify the air, stay away from it.

Most of these air purifiers are called “ozone air purifiers”.

There are so many of these models on the market because ozone can make the air smell cleaner.

This is because ozone emits an odor that reminds people of a clean space.

Ozone can also bond with certain particles in the air and weigh them down, causing the particles to fall to the floor. And while this does some good in cleansing the air, you still have to vacuum the particles anyway to get rid of them.

Look for a True HEPA Filter

The one thing you need to look for in an air purifier, especially if you have respiratory problems caused by allergies, is a True HEPA filter.

HEPA filters are the standard for air purifiers as they have the ability to capture very small and fine particles, preventing them from entering your lungs.

HEPA filters can capture dust, pollen, animal hair, and any other harmful solid particle in the air.

This does wonders for people with respiratory issues and is highly recommended for people with allergies.

With that said, many HEPA filters on the market don’t pass the standards that qualify them as a True HEPA filter.

As a result, they don’t do a good job, which should be avoided.

You’ll find that most of these fake filters are in the cheapest of models available.

Stay Away from Ionizers

There are tons of air purifiers with ionizers on the market and I highly recommend you to stay away from them.

This is because negative ions in the air can react with particles and cause them to fall down.

The downside is that this reaction produces ozone, which is something you want to avoid, especially when you’re indoors.

With that said, a lot of air purifiers have ionizers.

So, if you must settle for an air purifier with an ionizer, the least you can do is find a model where you can turn the ionizer on and off. That way, you can just leave the ionizer off.

The downside is that you’ll be paying for a feature you don’t plan on using.

This is why I would recommend just going for air purifiers with a good filtration system that dean’t make use of an ionizer.

Get an Air Purifier with Multi-Stage Filtration System

One of the best ways to reduce respiratory conditions with an air purifier is to find the right model.

And in my experience, the best air purifiers usually use a multi-stage filtration system. Basically, this means that the air purifier utilizes multiple filters that are all designed for different purposes.

The most common filtration system you’ll find nowadays is in three stages.

The first stage is a pre-filter, which is a cloth used to capture the large particles.

From there, the air passes through an activated charcoal filter which absorbs odors and harmful gasses.

Lastly, the air goes through the True HEPA filter, which is used to capture the finest of solid particles. If you can afford such an air purifier, you’ll get to breathe the cleanest possible air. I remember when I was in Delhi all those years ago and was desperately looking for an air purifier to clean the Delhi air effectively.

When I got my hands on the unit, it was a game-changer. To this day, I don’t believe I could have lived there without my air purifier.

Use the Air Purifier Properly

You can’t just plug the air purifier and hope for the best.

If you don’t use it properly, the air purifier won’t be able to work to its absolute best, which will be a waste of money on your end.

To start, I recommend that you place the air purifier in an elevated space near the window or door where the airflow is the highest.

Additionally, don’t place your air purifier in areas where the airflow might be obstructed. For example, on the floor behind the sofa.

I also recommend keeping the air purifier on 24/7. This is because modern air purifiers are designed to stay on constantly to provide you with clean air all the time.

To make it easier, I recommend looking for an automatic air purifier that can detect the air quality levels in a room and adjust its operation accordingly.

Should I Get an Air Purifier If I Have Respiratory Problems?

If you have respiratory problems, the stories of people coughing and wheezing because of air purifiers may scare you off from getting one.

However, I would argue that having the right air purifier could actually help people living with respiratory problems. Air purifiers can be especially helpful for cancer patients with respiratory issues..

This is because clean air is always good for the body, and a high-quality air purifier is one of the ways to ensure that you have high-quality air in the room all the time, even if you live in a heavily polluted city.

For example, many people with COPD ask if air purifiers can help them, and the answer is yes. You’ll find plenty of great options out there that will make your condition much more bearable.

With that said, you have to pay extra close attention to ensure you don’t get an air purifier that does the opposite of what you need.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the worst things you can do if you have respiratory issues is to get an air purifier that produces ozone.

But you will be good if it has a good filtration system without an ozone generator or an ionizer.

Benefits of Having an Air Purifier

Having an air purifier is great.

While I admit I used to be skeptical about it, I’ve realized that this is a great appliance at home.

Here are some of the key benefits of owning and using an air purifier.

Fewer Allergies

The biggest benefit my air purifier offered me is being in complete control of my allergies.

This means that whenever there’s a fair amount of dust and pollen in the air, I start sneezing a lot.

It gets so bad that there are days that I would rather just stay at home because of my allergies.

However, I found that air purifiers do wonders for people with allergies. This is because they remove most of the allergens in the air, which cause me many problems.

So, an air purifier would be a great investment if you struggle with allergies like me.

Cleaner Air

Another advantage of air purifiers is clean air. As mentioned earlier, a good air purifier can remove dust, pollen, and other harmful particles from the air.

On top of that, if you get one with an activated carbon filter, you can also remove unpleasant odors from the room.

For example, the smell can linger for weeks if someone recently smoked a cigarette indoors.

However, an air purifier with an activated carbon filter will absorb the aroma and remove it entirely.

Healthier Lungs

With healthier air comes healthier lungs.

The lungs are one of the most important organs in the body.

And while we can’t control the pollution and particles we breathe outside the house, the least we can do is ensure that we breathe healthy air while inside. And one of the best ways to do that is with an air purifier.


Just because you have an air purifier doesn’t mean it’s the cause of your respiratory problems.

With that said, certain air purifiers with ozone generators and ionizers can sometimes cause respiratory problems, so I always advise against them.

So, if you’d like to keep your lungs safe, get your hands on the right air purifier for your needs.