Mold reproduces through tiny particles called mold spores4, which are invisible to the naked eye. Spores exist in indoor and outdoor air, but mold has the highest risk of growing indoors when these spores land on wet surfaces.
While most air purifiers won’t eliminate the mold or mildew already growing on your surfaces, these machines help prevent mold spores from landing in the first place. “Top-rated air purifiers have the ability to remove small particles like spores, improving indoor air quality and reducing the chances for indoor mold growth, explains Michael Rubino, mold and air quality expert and author of The Mold Medic, an Expert’s Guide on Mold Removal.
Allergist Anjuli Mehrotra, MD, agrees. “Mold spores are usually under 40 microns in size, so air purifiers with HEPA filters can usually filter out airborne mold spores,” she adds. Microns are a unit of measurement equal to one millionth of a meter—to give you an idea of how small 40 microns is, one grain of beach sand is typically between 100 to 10,000 microns.
“Mold is actually present around us everywhere, both indoors and outdoors,” continues Mehrotra. “It does not always cause health issues, but people with allergies and asthma may be more sensitive to molds causing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or nasal symptoms like sneezing or congestion. Exposure to excessive amounts of mold via airborne mold particles may trigger irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, throat, and lungs. People with suppression of their immune system or chronic lung or respiratory disorders may be at increased risk of infection from mold.”
“For those who are attempting to determine if an inspection is necessary, at-home options such as The Dust Test can begin to set the foundation for figuring out if there’s a contamination situation present,” Rubino adds.
When it comes to choosing the best air purifier for mold, Rubino says the key is to find a machine with technology that eliminates the particles from the air, so they don’t just blow right back into the surrounding environment. “Air purifiers should at least meet HEPA status, meaning they remove 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. That being said, some species of mold can create microscopic toxins called mycotoxins, which are even smaller than mold spores. Finding air purifiers that can eliminate particles smaller than 0.3 microns can help clean the air further,” he explains.