Are you concerned about the current or potential presence of mold in your home?
Mold can invade your home and rapidly spread without you realizing it, ultimately putting your loved ones at risk. Mold issues may start in a lesser-used area with high temperatures and humidity such as a garage or attic, but the microscopic spores can spread throughout the air and begin reproducing in the walls of your home leading to a range of short and long-term health effects.
Many people wonder if air purifiers help with mold, so we’ve detailed everything you need to know about what air purifiers actually do to remove mold and if it makes sense for you to use one in your home.
What is mold and how does it grow?
Mold is a type of fungus made up of microscopic organisms that grows in places that are warm, damp, and dark. In nature, mold acts as a decomposition agent and is crucial for the breakdown of dead organic matter such as plants. However, when mold is found indoors it can be dangerous to the area’s inhabitants.
Like all living things, mold needs water, food, and oxygen to live and grow. Areas with high humidity or exposure to water leaks are ideal for mold because they provide plenty of moisture. To get the nutrients it needs to grow, mold will feed off of the surface it grows on resulting in decay. Certain surfaces provide ideal growing conditions for mold such as paper and wood, but it can also grow on fabric, plastic, and glass surfaces as well.
As mold grows, it releases reproductive spores that travel through the air. These spores are microscopic, meaning you won’t be able to see them without extreme magnification. As spores travel through the air, they will attach to objects such as clothing, or even other living beings such as pets. This is generally how mold enters a home, at which point it will move from location to location until it finds a spot with ideal growing conditions. Some spores will easily move and settle multiple times, while others will cling to surfaces and will only dislodge after direct contact with another surface.
The EPA notes that “Spores may remain able to grow for years after they are produced. In addition, whether or not the spores are alive, the allergens in and on them may remain allergenic for years.”
Types of household mold
Have you ever wondered why mold on cheese is fine to eat, but mold inside a home is considered hazardous? There are several types of mold, some of which are more dangerous than others. In fact, there are thousands of types of mold which have a range of colors such as green, blue, white, or black among others.
When it comes to protecting your home, here are the most common types of indoor mold to be aware of:
Alternaria is one of the most common types of mold found outdoors and indoors. It’s usually found in soil and plants, but makes its way indoors on shoes and clothing. While most molds only thrive in moist conditions, Alternaria is dangerous because it can grow just as easily in dry areas. It’s most concerning for its potential to cause asthma attacks, but it can also cause allergy symptoms as well.
Aspergillus thrives in a moist environment, and is known for being able to feed off a staggering variety of organic material for nutrients. It’s known to grow on leather and fabrics, but can also grow on food among other surfaces. When it comes to health effects, Aspergillus has been linked to allergic reactions and lung infections.
Cladosporium also thrives in a moist environment, and is commonly found on carpets or wallpaper. It appears in clusters of black, yellow, or green spots that spread quickly if not quickly treated. Although Cladosporium very rarely causes illnesses, when it does they can be severe such as eye or brain infections.
Fusarium tends to grow in areas that are cold and wet, often appearing indoors on carpets. People sensitive to molds may experience flu-like symptoms when exposed to Fusarium, while those with asthma may experience wheezing and coughing.
Often referred to as “black mold” or “toxic mold”, Stachobotyrs appears in black or dark green clumps and requires constant moisture to thrive. In addition to it’s dark appearance, it has a notably musty smell. This type of mold is especially dangerous because it creates toxic compounds called mycotoxins, which can lead to breathing issues, sinus infections, and even fatigue from exposure.
Mold health risks
Mold sensitivity varies from person to person, so it’s possible you may not experience any symptoms while someone in the same household could simultaneously be dealing with severe issues.
The most common problematic symptoms from mold exposure are from allergic or asthmatic reactions, which may be immediately noticeable or develop from prolonged exposure. In addition to the mold growing on surfaces, the airborne spores can also contribute to problematic symptoms.
Mold allergy and asthmatic symptoms:
- A stuffy or runny nose
- Watery, red, or itchy eyes
- A sore throat
- Skin irritation or rashes
Although people who are allergic to mold are most likely to experience these symptoms, in some cases non-allergenic individuals may also experience issues. For people with asthma, mold can make breathing more difficult or even act as a trigger for asthma attacks. In severe cases, mold may even cause a fever or difficulty breathing.
Furthermore, in 2004 the Institute of Medicine published a landmark report entitled Damp Indoor Space and Health which linked mold exposure to “upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheezing, and asthma symptoms in sensitized persons.”
Do air purifiers help with mold?
Air purifiers help remove mold spores from the air, preventing them from reproducing and spreading throughout your home. While air purifiers won’t help treat active mold that’s already present on surfaces, they are a great way to stop mold from spreading or prevent indoor mold from becoming an issue in the first place.
If you don’t have a mold problem but are concerned about it becoming an issue, an air purifier will help eliminate mold spores that enter your home before they have a chance to land on surfaces where they can grow and cause problems. If you are currently dealing with a mold issue in your home, you should use an air purifier in conjunction with traditional surface treatments to prevent mold spores from spreading to other areas.
What’s the best air purifier for mold?
The best air purifiers for mold are those that utilize True HEPA filters. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, and these filters are highly effective at capturing microscopic particles such as mold spores found in the air.
True HEPA filters are even more effective than regular HEPA filters, as True HEPA filters are subject to even stricter standards of efficiency. In fact, True HEPA filters must capture at least 99.97% of all pollutants that are 0.3 microns or greater in size. For reference, mold spores are usually between two and ten microns in size. This means True HEPA filters are a certifiably effective way to remove airborne mold spores from your home.
Although most HEPA and True HEPA filters still pose a risk from the collected mold growing in the filter itself, Alen uses True HEPA antimicrobial filters which have a layer designed to kill the trapped mold so it doesn’t get released back into the air.
One thing that’s important to consider when choosing an air purifier to remove mold, is the size of the room you’ll be placing it. In order to effectively operate, you’ll need an air purifier that can circulate and clean all of the air in a room in a reasonable amount of time.
For large rooms and common areas, we recommend the Alen BreatheSmart 75i which cleans 1,300 square feet every 30 minutes. Perfect for the living room or master bedroom, this air purifier quietly operates to circulate air and remove mold spores.
If the room is a bit smaller such as a child’s bedroom or home office, we recommend the Alen BreatheSmart 45i which provides coverage for up to 800 square feet. Much like the BreatheSmart 75i, this purifier operates at a whisper-quiet noise level as it cleans the room’s air.
Have questions about which air purifier is right for you? Check out our in-depth buying guide or take our air purifier quiz to help find a purifier to meet the unique needs of your home.