Are Air Scrubbers Safe?

Last Updated on May 11, 2024 by Peter Simmons

Air scrubbers move an awful lot of air. They’re a powerful way of removing particulate matter and even gaseous pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But are air scrubbers safe for humans and pets? These two questions are what this small post is all about.

Related post: What do air scrubbers do?

Are Air Scrubbers Safe for Humans?

Yes, dry and wet air scrubbers are safe for humans. How so? These air scrubbers don’t produce ozone directly or as a byproduct at any point in their operation. Therefore, wet and dry air scrubbers are safe for humans.

What’s the deal with ozone? Ozone can harm humans and pets and experts discourage using devices that emit ozone in occupied spaces.

Dry scrubbers use air filters (prefilters, HEPA filters, and activated carbon filters) to remove particulate matter from a passing gas stream.

cat on a sofa

Wet air scrubbers use a liquid, mostly water, to remove solid particulates and even acid gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The National Service Center for Environmental Publications uses the following terms when referring to wet air scrubbers:

  • Orifice air scrubbers
  • Gas-induced spray scrubbers
  • Entrainment air scrubbers
  • Self-induced spray scrubbers

Neither filter-based nor water-based air scrubbers emit ozone. You can now swipe right, and, without fear, grab that HEPA scrubber you’ve been pondering.

Are Air Scrubbers Safe for Pets?

If you have cats, dogs, parrots, or any other furry or feathery pets, you might wonder whether they’d be safe around residential air scrubbers.

YES, home air scrubbers that don’t give off ozone as a byproduct are completely safe for pets.

Fire up that mighty HEPA scrubber and start fighting that musty basement smell you’ve hated since you moved into your home. Your pet will be fine.

However, air scrubbers have the reputation of being pretty loud, especially when running on the fastest setting. Some can be as loud as 90 decibels on low, and that’s as loud as a lawn mower or a hair dryer.

You might have noticed that loud fireworks terrify cats and dogs. Well, fireworks are way louder than air scrubbers (150-175dB), but that doesn’t mean their noise won’t affect your pets. In fact…

Noise Pollution Can Lead to Hearing Damage in Pets

According to this systematic review, noise pollution can cause problems in animals. At 85 dB or higher, hearing damage can happen to pets.

Also, if the environment is too noisy, the pet may struggle to hear important signals. Additionally, the animal’s heart rate and breathing can quicken. An unusually fast pulse rate can be concerning.

Household Noises May Cause Pet Anxiety

Research published in Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine suggests that common household noises can cause stress-related behaviors in companion dogs.

This survey mostly relied on anecdotal evidence, specifically pet owner assertions and pet behavior responses to sudden noise videos. This means the evidence isn’t conclusive or definitive, only suggestive.

However, the authors did conclude that most pet owners underestimate pet anxiety in response to common household noises.

Consider that an air scrubber is noisier than most common household noises. Imagine how much anxiety your dog or cat might experience with that machine firing on all our cylinders.

Maybe you and your dog should consider going for a walk when that scrubber is doing its thing. Alternatively, set the device to the lowest speed. But then the unit will take longer to scrub the same amount of air.

Conclusion

Air scrubbers are generally safe for humans and pets. However, they can be quite loud, especially if you select the most powerful setting.

Too much noise isn’t something humans and pets like. Noise pollution can cause hearing impairment and an increased pulse rate in pets. Consider these things before ordering an air scrubber.

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