Poor-Performing Air Purifier

Americans spend more than 500 million dollars on air cleaners each year. But do they really purify the air like they promise?

Consumer Reports tested portable air purifiers and found you shouldn't always believe the hype.

Consumer Reports tested the $300 LightAir Flow 50-F Surface, along with more than two dozen portable air cleaners.

To evaluate how well they remove dust and smoke, testers place them in a special sealed room. The chamber is filled with fine, powdered clay dust, as well as cigarette smoke.

Testers use a particle analyzer to measure how well the air cleaners remove the contaminants. How did the LightAir cleaner do?

Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports says, "We found the LightAir about as effective at removing smoke and dust as using no air cleaner at all."

An air cleaner from Brookstone did far better at removing dust and smoke. But there was a problem. Brookstone's Pure-Ion Pro produces a small amount of ozone, which can aggravate asthma.

Markovich says, "The Brookstone does meet voluntary standards for ozone levels. But we won't recommend any product that produces ozone."

In fact, Consumer Reports says even if you do have asthma or allergies, you probably don't need an air cleaner.

To improve air quality, put dust-mite covers on your mattress and pillows. Don't use a fireplace or let pets in your bedroom.

Markovich says, "If you've taken those steps and still think you need an air purifier, we found some that are good at dust and smoke removal.

The Holmes HAP756-U is a good choice for $150.

Consumer Reports says there's another inexpensive way to improve the air in your home.

If you heat and cool with forced air, you can replace the filter with a better one-something you need to do every couple of months.

Consumer Reports tests show one from 3M does an excellent job removing dust and pollen.

It's the 3M Filtrete Elite Allergen 2200 MPR filter for $25.

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