Do-it-yourself (DIY) air cleaners: Evidence on effectiveness and considerations for safe operation

Read the full story at the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.

A review of academic and technical literature showed that do-it-yourself (DIY) air cleaners performed similarly to commercial portable air cleaners in terms of clean air delivery rate (CADR) and energy efficiency under controlled conditions. However, DIY devices were much more cost efficient that commercially available air cleaners. Both types of devices generated >50 dB of noise.

Field evaluations of DIY air cleaners have found they were effective in homes and schools, but there are no long-term studies. There is also a lack of user engagement to understand whether DIY devices are used properly and consistently.

The “best” DIY design will depend on the space to be cleaned, the activities carried out, space available, noise disruption, and other factors. Because CADR can vary substantially depending on material quality, it may be useful to evaluate DIY air cleaner effectiveness post-construction using low-cost particulate matter sensors indoors and outdoors.

DIY air cleaners made with newer model fans are unlikely to pose a fire or burn risk, but should be kept clear of obstructions and operated with common sense precautions. The filters should be changed when soiled; duration of filter lifespan will vary with use and conditions.

Portable air cleaners are only part of a comprehensive indoor air quality strategy. They do not replace the need for ventilation and should be used in conjunction with other appropriate health protective measures.

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