In this article we will be looking at pet allergens and the best air purifiers for removing those allergens from the air.
Pet allergies are caused by proteins inside animal’s saliva, skin and urine.
Proteins are the allergens, not the saliva, not the skin, not the urine. It is the actual proteins inside of these substances that trigger the allergy.
These allergens, these proteins that actually trigger the allergic reaction, they become airborne when the substance around these proteins dries.
With saliva, the protein is usually first transferred from the animal’s mouth to its fur where it dries. That’s where the saliva dries and that is where the protein is then released to the air.
Keep in mind that it is not the fur itself that is triggering these allergic reactions. It is the saliva that’s been transferred to the fur and then the proteins inside that saliva that actually become airborne, when the saliva dries up.
With urine, the liquid portion around the protein has to dry up for that protein to be able to be released into the air.
With skin, it is the skin’s cell that dries up and flakes off. At that point, the protein can be released into the air.
Pet allergen proteins are extremely small. A good example is Fel d 1. It is a common cat allergen and it is microscopic. We’re talking about a few thousands of a micron in size.
Because the proteins are so small and also because of the jagged shape they tend to be able to cling to other particles quite easily.
So what happens is that normally you do not find the protein by itself in the air. The protein normally associates with other particles and when it does so, it sticks to those other particles.
These other particles very greatly in size. Some of these particles may be larger than 10 microns, some of them might be smaller than 10 microns, some might be one micron or less than 1 micron.
The actual size of the particles that protein tend to associate with is going to have a lot of variance in terms of its size.
In terms of what these other particles tend to be in the home environment, these are usually dust particles. The allergen protein tends to associate with these dust particles in the home.
The ultimate path of these allergens, of these proteins, is not only from the animal to the air, it is also from the animal to the air and then to other particles and in those other particles can then become airborne.
The bottom line here is that in order to remove these allergens from the air, to keep you from having these pet allergens, you need to remove not only the allergens, those microscopic particles, but you also need to remove all manner of different sized particles because these allergens can associate with those particles.
In air purifiers, they only going to be taking care of the airborne particles. If these allergens and associated particles are laying on a surface, you need to wipe down a surface, vacuum that surface. Air purifier itself is only going to be able to remove the proteins in associated particles from the air.
In order for the air purifier to remove those proteins and associated particles from the air, it has to use two different filters.
The first filter is the pre-filter and second filter is the particle filter.
There is also usually a third filter installed on these air purifiers. That filter is installed for gas filtration. On most air purifiers it is a activated carbon filter, meaning that it primarily consists of activated carbon. The point of that filter is to remove gases from the air.
Here we are talking about things like VOCs and odors. That is the point of the third type of filter that is prominent on most air purifiers. That gas filter is going to do absolutely nothing in terms of removing any type of pet allergen or associated particles from the air.
It is only the pre-filter and the eventual particle filter that is going to remove those types of particles from the air.
In terms of evaluating air purifiers for pet allergens and associated particles for removing those particles, we need to evaluate these two filters – the pre-filter and particle filter – how well they are going to be able to remove those types of particles from the air.
There are two types of filters that dominate the market.
There are replaceable pre-filters and there are washable pre-filters.
The washable pre-filters is going to allow you to clean it off, to vacuum it, to rinse it, to remove larger particles from it.
The replaceable pre-filter is going to require you to actually buy a replaceable filter to replace that filter.
Our recommendation is to look for washable pre-filter, because that is going to save you money over the course of ownership of the air purifier.
We do not recommend replaceable air filet when it comes to particle filter, because the particle filter is crucial in capturing all kinds of
However when it comes to the pre-filter, we actually recommend a washable pre-filter because that’s going to save you money in replacement filters.
The important distinction to make here is the fact that the pre-filter is not critical to actually cleaning the air.
The pre-filter is there for the sole purpose of keeping the other filters from saturating too fast.
As air is entering the unit, it goes through the front grill and it goes to the pre-filter, it then goes to the gas filter, than through the particle filter.
If there was no pre-filter, these larger particles will end up on particle filter and they would saturate that filter very quickly because they are so large.
So the point of the pre-filter is to take care of those larger particles and by keeping those larger particles from saturating the particle filter, it’s going to extend the life of the particle filter by quite a bit.
That is the goal here.
The goal is simply to keep the particle filter from saturating too fast. The pre-filter itself does not impact the overall quality of air filtration.
Talking about particle filters, there are many different types of particle filters on the market.
There are permanent filters, there are proprietary particle filters by all manner of different names, there are also true HEPA filters and HEPA type filters.
Our recommendation to most users is to get an air purifier that has a true HEPA filter as it’s particle filter.
The reason for that is simply because HEPA filters are the best types of filters for particle filtration. HEPA filters give you 99.97% efficiency for particles 0.3 microns or larger.
That is really the highest level of efficiency that you’re going to be able to get for a particle filter on an air purifier.
Proprietary particle filters are permanent filters. They tend to not have that same level of efficiency as these HEPA filters.
If you’re looking for an air purifier, and your trying to evaluate the quality of its particle filter, look for a true HEPA filter. That is a recommendation for the best particle filter.
So if you’re looking for an air purifier for removal of pet allergens and associated particles from the air, you really need to look for a unit that comes equipped with a washable pre-filter and a true HEPA filter.
If you do those two things, if you look for a unit with a washable pre-filter and true HEPA filter, you are going to be well on your way to buy a unit that is going to do very well for you in removing those pet allergens and associated particles from the air.
Two examples of specific models that fit the bill very well are: the Winix 5500-2 and the Coway Mighty.
Both of these models come equipped with a washable pre-filter, both models come equipped with a true HEPA filter.
Really those are the two most important components in buying an air purifier for pet allergen and associated particles.
These units also have very good energy efficiency, they also have low noise output for their processing power and they also have sufficient output for many different applications.
So if you are in the market for an air purifier for pet allergies and associated particles either one of these models would be our specific recommendation.
In terms of general recommendations, again definitely look for a unit with a washable pre-filter and a true HEPA filter.