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Dehumidifiers, air purifiers, indoor pollution: Realities

The headlines

This article supports many other articles on the site about damp and condensation in the home. The most relevant one is my article on the importance of fresh air in solving these issues.

This article:

  • Alerts you to the increasing and serious problem of indoor pollution.

  • Information on the practical limitations of these products dealing with this problem.

  • Shares specific quotes and views of independent experts.

Experts all agree:

  • Dehumidifier and air purifier products are inadequate at addressing these issues.

  • The most energy efficient way of dealing with these and damp/condensation issues is to provide adequate ventilation.


The indoor pollution problem

This one minute YouTube video shows that an estimated 65% of UK homes have:

  • A lack of fresh air that can lead to quite serious indoor air quality issues.

  • Up to an estimated 900 different pollutants in indoor air.

Researchers on this subject at both Chester and Nottingham Universities have these same views.

The pollutants shown above have serious associated health risks such as skin irritation, asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.


Why I felt concerned enough about this subject to write this

Poor awareness of a serious issue

It is a serious issue relevant domestic issue with very little awareness amongst the general public.

Potential increases in indoor pollution caused by over-reliance on dehumidifiers

Reliance on dehumidifiers to manage damp and condensation issues makes indoor pollution issues worse in a home. For dehumidifiers to be efficient and removing water from damp air in a home, windows, doors, and vents need to be shut. This reduces the opportunity for indoor pollution to leave a home and air to be refreshed.

Poor sleep quality and its effects

As far as I am aware, no dehumidifier or air purifier product can remove carbon dioxide from the air in a home. This is particularly important in bedrooms at night.

Many international studies have shown that without ventilation carbon dioxide levels in a bedroom significantly exceed recommended limits.

This has been proven to affect sleep quality and mental performance and focus the following day.


What does an "ordinary" dehumidifier do and not do

Dehumidifiers are not 'fresh air' generators. Their prime job is to take moisture out of the air.

A basic dehumidifier helps reduce SOME indoor air indoor quality issues, such as with spores and mould that thrive in damp conditions.

They do not remove any of the other pollutants in the air in a home.


Dehumidifiers with integrated purification features and dedicated air purifiers

Some dehumidifiers have integrated air purification filters and features. There are also many dedicated indoor air purifier products that can work alongside a dehumidifier.


  1. They don't remove all indoor pollutants.

  2. They only provide limited help and only in the room they are in, and when they are running. Cooking for example generates high levels of indoor pollution very quickly and so needs dealing with quickly.

  3. Dedicated air purifiers are another source of expense to buy and run.

Purifiers also need to be used with windows and doors shut to help them do their job.

Purifiers or dehumidifiers with purifier features also need regular maintenance. Their filters regularly need cleaning and if they use activated carbon filters these need replacing.

From the brief research I've done this means a cost of at least £5 every time.

As this area is not fully understood:

  • There is only limited understanding of which pollutants and combination of pollutants are linked to which health issues.

  • There are no clear standards that products must meet when they claim to be air purifiers.

  • The air purification industry is unregulated.


Independent and expert views

This Good Housekeeping article draws on experts and states:

'purifiers don’t capture all chemical pollutants and the figures they claim will be test conditions and depend on where a unit is located'.

It also says 'there very little medical evidence to support that air purifiers directly help improve your health or alleviate allergies and respiratory symptoms'

The article recommends a 'ventilate first' approach.

This Which article states quite clearly though that air purifiers should NOT be considered as the first line of defence to deal with indoor air quality unless there are times when you have excessive outdoor pollution.

Another quote from a Toronto University expert:

"Air purifiers do not eliminate the cause of pollution, nor are they able to capture it all at once. They simply clean it little by little."

There is wealth of other information online on this subject.


Quick links to the other main articles on this subject.

Other supporting articles on damp:


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If you have any other suggestions for additions or changes to site content do please let me know. While I have made every effort to ensure that the information contained on this website is correct, I cannot take responsibility for errors or omissions.

All content on the site should be treated as information and not advice. You should take professional advice where appropriate to different site articles.


Mark Thompson

Get Energy Savvy - simple practical home energy efficiency information

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