Are Air Purifiers Safe for Babies

You’ve been saving religiously so you can give your baby the quality of life they deserve. Now, you have a nice little pile of money. You’re ready. But you’re wondering are air purifiers safe for babies? This post is an attempt to answer that question and more that new parents and other parents might ask.

There’s never been a parent who didn’t prioritize safety when it comes to caring for their little bundle of joy. I explore relevant research and expert advice around baby room air purifier as far as safety.


So, let dive in.


Do Babies Need Air Purifiers?


A baby nursery ready a purifier
Image Credit: Monika Kirkland: The area around the crib may seem clean and tidy, but who knows what’s floating in the air, unseen? 

Healthy babies, those that don’t suffer from any kind of breathing issues, may not need an air purifier. Allergens such as dust, pollen, and pet dander may not be what you want your baby to inhale, but they’re largely harmless for healthy babies and adults. At least in the short term.

But if your baby lives with asthma and experiences allergic reactions when dust gets kicked into the air or when pollen blows into your home, a good air purifier for babies may help them. How?

An effective air purifier uses a motor to reel in all kinds of allergens and pollutants and captures them using a set of filters. Most air purifiers use 3 different filters namely prefilter, main filter, and the odor filter/VOC filter.

The prefilter combats larger particles before the semi-clean air proceeds to the main filter that removes ultrafine particles. Finally, the activated carbon filter handles VOCs, smoke, and other pollutants.


Babies with Breathing Challenges May Need a Purifier


According to Dr. James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D, purifiers that use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air filters can help asthma sufferers. These air cleaners demonstrate an exceptional ability when it comes to removing the smallest airborne particles that make breathing a laborious task. The best part is that HEPA air filters eliminate asthma-worsening allergens without shooting ozone into indoor air.

Healthline says asthma has no cure, yet. However, asthma symptoms are manageable. One of the most effective strategies for managing asthma symptoms is to reduce the amount of allergens in the indoor environment. Allergens such as dust, seasonal pollen, and pet dander are some of the most common asthma triggers, Healthline says. And air cleaners may help minimize a baby’s or adult’s overall exposure to environmental asthma triggers.

*Consult an allergy and asthma expert for accurate advice and tips on how best to help your baby handle asthma and allergies.

Indoor Air is More Polluted than the Air Outside

Maybe you’re still sitting on the fence and aren’t sure whether you should sink a chunk of your budget into an air purifier for your baby. And that’s understandable. Nobody wants to throw their dollars down the drain, after all.

But consider this: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA), the concentrations of certain air pollutants can be as much as 5 times higher indoors than it is outside!

Now, let that sink in. And you know what? The typical American spends 90 percent of their daily time indoors.That means there’s probably lots of impurities floating in the air in your baby’s nursery at this time.

Since your baby spends most of their time inside the nursery, they’re massively exposed. Whether your newborn baby, toddler, or child battles allergies and asthma or not, installing an air purifier in their space can be beneficial.


The Nature of Indoor Air Pollution


You’ve rocked your baby to sleep. Now, you’re about to leave the nursery for your bedroom, leaving them napping. Everything is fine in the nursery, right? Maybe, maybe not. Just because you’re not seeing anything worrying happening in the baby room doesn’t mean nothing worth worrying about is going on.

You certainly didn’t see all those microscopic particles zigzagging in that space, did you? Even though you aren’t spotting anything, there’s heaps of various kinds of indoor pollution there.

There’s loads of PM10 particles such as dust, seasonal pollen, and mold spores. Then there’s Ultrafine Particles, also known as PM2.5 particles. And, PM2.5 pollution is deadly. It’s the worst kind of indoor air pollution you could have.

The next statement sounds frightening, because it is:

Fully 90 percent of all airborne particles indoors and outdoors is Ultrafine Particles (UFPs). These are particulates with a diameter of 2.5 micron or smaller.

The smaller the particles, the more dangerous they can be. These ultra-tiny particles seem to have unparalleled determination, traveling tirelessly and ending up in some of the most delicate body organs. Organs such as the brain and the liver, body parts no one can replace easily.

Every baby deserves protection from the dangers of these potentially lethal PM2.5 particles. And that’s where general hygiene practices such as regularly vacuuming the room come in. But while vacuuming a room makes the air feel awesomely fresh and healthy, the place likely isn’t as clean as you imagine.

All the airborne particles vacuuming kicks into the air stay suspended until you do something about them. Until you decide to bite the bullet and buy an effective PM2.5 air purifier, preferably a true HEPA option.

One example of PM2.5 pollution in the baby room is car exhaust. Do you live near a freeway? According to one MIT study, vehicular pollution kills over 53,000 early deaths in the United States each year. Emissions from factories and power plants and wildfire smoke are other examples of PM2.5 particles.

Car exhaust in the nursery
How much of the exhaust fumes end up in homes and nurseries across the U.S.? A lot!

The next type of indoor air pollution is Volatile Organic Compounds. At room temperature, Volatile Organic Compounds exist in gaseous form. These gaseous compounds emanate from carpeting and performance of regular activities such as painting the baby room or cooking them a meal in the kitchen.

Other sources of VOCs include various building and construction materials, perfumes and other personal care products, baby products, furniture, and home cleaning products.

Finally, there’s dust mites and other pollutants of a biological nature. Cat dander, bird dander, and dog dander are in this category.

pet dander in baby room
Dogs and cats are nice, but they keep releasing animal dander, a biological air pollutant.

I cringed when I first read what my baby was inhaling in the nursery. Fortunately for Brian, Mommy took immediate action and ordered an air purifier designed for use in the baby room.

Ever since, the air in the crib room smells way nicer, and I believe it’s way cleaner and healthier for my baby.

Maybe it’s about time you whipped out that pocketbook and showed your baby some love.



Can Using an Air Purifier in the Nursery Harm Your Baby?

YES. If you’re running an ionic air purifier or a virus-eating option that can’t do the job without spewing ozone back into the room, you should stop.

According to Mayo Clinic, even low levels of ozone can cause various problems to the person inhaling it. Breathing ozone can end up irritating the lungs regardless of the quantities that get in. Some of the effects your baby might experience include coughing, chest pain, irritation in the throat, and dyspnea or shortness of breath, also known as air hunger.

Dyspnea is one of the many asthma symptoms, states Steven A. Wahls, M.D. in an article published on American Family Physician Journal.

And according to Debra Fulghum Bruce and Carol Sorgen, both PhDs, ozone irritates airways and can cause bronchospasm in people with asthma, albeit temporarily. Additionally, in people with allergic rhinitis or hay fever, breathing in ozone can lead to nasal congestion.

All Ionizing Air Purifiers Do Is Mask Odors


Many of those ozone air purifiers manufacturers repeatedly say improve asthma symptoms actually don’t, says Mayo Clinic. Not only do negative ion generating air purifiers not eliminate asthma and allergy triggers, but they can actually make the situation worse. Imagine buying an expensive device and installing it in the nursery only for it to worsen your baby’s asthma problems. That’s scary.

Using an ionizer usually gives the impression it’s making the air cleaner and fresher. However, what ionizers do is basically mask odors, Mayo further claims.

What’s the Best Air Purifier for Baby Rooms?


The best air purifier for a baby room is one that uses a prefilter for capturing larger airborne particles, a True HEPA filter to remove fine particles, and a VOC filter to deodorize the space.

Beware of air cleaners that generate negative ions in the process of purifying the air. Such air purifiers produce ozone. And ozone doesn’t do a whole ton of good to young lungs and airways.

If you still prefer an ozone generator instead of a true HEPA allergen remover, insist on a device with an optional ionizer. Also, be sure to turn the ionizer off every time you fire up the baby nursery air purifier.

Very important: make sure to choose an air cleaner the California Air Resources Board approves as safe for indoor use. CARB certified air purifiers may produce ozone and other potential toxins, but the compounds released never surpass safe levels. CARB consider  50 parts per billion or 0.05 parts per million to the safety threshold.

Types of Air Purifiers Not Fit for Baby Rooms


Ionic air purifiers and those that use UV-C light to freshen and sanitize the air have one thing in common: they emit ozone. But while HEPA air purifiers are the best option in nearly every case, some of them combine True HEPA filtration with dirty air cleaning technologies. For example, the GermGuardian AC4825 may use HEPA filters, but it also features a germ-killing feature, UV-C light.

New parents and indeed all parents and grandparents should choose baby-friendly air purifiers. They should select safe air purifiers that purify the air without re-contaminating the room. Yes, releasing ozone into the room is akin to re-contaminating the room.

In this post, Best Air Purifiers for Babies, I explain in great detail how to choose an air purifier suited for baby nurseries. I list quite a few aspects to watch out for when shopping for a crib room purifier. Additionally, I present 5 recommendations that work well in that sacred space.


What’s Better for Babies, an Air Purifier or a Humidifier?


If your baby’s nursery chokes on air pollutants of every possible kind, it’s best to put a good air purifier in there before using a humidifier. These machines help improve indoor air quality. And while some of their benefits overlap, they’re essentially different.

A humidifier improves room air quality by hydrating the air so your baby won’t have cracked skin. Like air purifiers, humidifiers may help sinuses that keep acting up.  Either an air purifier or a room humidifier can be a good investment for the nursery. But if you must use one device and not the other, first understand the main problem you have in your baby’s room and make a decision.

If you live in a location known for its nasty-dry winters and dusty summers, own both  machines. Use the air purifier, preferably one that also cools the air, during the summer and other warm months. But when winter kicks in, power up the humidifier and moisten the air in the crib room so Ryan or Lillian can breathe easier.

But here’s a situation where using a humidifier would be better than using a humidifier: if your baby suffers from infantile eczema. According to Lawrence E. Gibson. M.D. at Mayo Clinic, moisturizing or humidifying the air is essential to treating this condition.


You Can Use an Air Purifier and Humidifier in the Nursery


You can use both an air purifier and humidifier at the same time. What if the baby room is rather small and running both devices might make the space look like a science lab ? In that case, consider using a device that plays both roles, one that purifiers the air while humidifying it. The Venta LW15 Airwasher is a great option, a mid-range purifier-humidifier combo that’s worth every penny.


Editor’s Note:


The ideas expressed in this post are derived from the knowledge and scientific research various experts have freely availed on the web. It’s certainly not specific medical advice. The author of Are air Purifiers Safe for Babies is neither a doctor nor an allergist or asthma management expert. So, be sure to see a doctor and have them help you devise an effective strategy to treat your baby’s asthma or eczema.

Final Thought

Buying an air purifier for the crib room is a good idea. But not every type of air purifier out there is right for that space. Some air purifiers emit ozone, and this oxygen-like gas can lead to uncomfortable effects including lung irritation, coughing, shortness of breath, and more. Every caring and loving parent or grandparent should steer clear of air baby room air purifiers that clean the air by ionizing it. Air purifiers that count on True HEPA air filters to filter out asthma allergens are in most cases the best.

Author: Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being Ricky's wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. <a href="">Visit my Facebook profile here</a>, and this is my <a href="">LinkedIn profile</a>, and here's my <a href="">nascent youtube channel.

Esther Moni

I'm Esther Moni, a proud stay-at-home mom and a psychology graduate of the United States International University (USIU) . I hate it when anyone calls me a housewife, because what does housewife even mean? Being a mother of two babies and a pup, Bailey, as well as being a wife tires me to no end, but I still manage a smile at the end of it all. And when my boys aren't done doing mischief, I juggle writing a post on parenting or baby gear performance for this blog and running my little counselling office based out in Nairobi. Visit my Facebook profile here, and this is my LinkedIn profile, and here's my nascent youtube channel.