COPD and Air Purifiers: What You Need to Know

In recent years, a much greater understanding has developed of the effects that unclean air can have on human health. Even such conditions as kidney and bowel cancer, which do not seem to be intuitively linked to air quality, have been shown to have their risk rates substantially increased by air pollution. Another condition that has been linked to poor air quality is COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here’s what people living with COPD should know about how the quality of the air they breathe might be affecting them and how use of a proper air purification system can help.


  How is COPD Connected to Low Air Quality?


Air pollution affects COPD in two discrete ways. The first, and most obvious, is the effect it has on those who already suffer from the condition. Owing to the breathing difficulties that COPD sufferers already deal with, ambient pollution in the air they breathe has the potential to worsen symptoms of the disorder. A 2016 scientific review and analysis of 59 studies into the links between air quality and COPD found that even short-term exposure to common air pollutants, such as those created by car exhaust, could significantly increase the risk of exacerbated symptoms. Worse yet, the effects of poor air quality are far from confined to outdoor air. A 2006 study found that fine particulate matter in indoor air could worsen the overall health of those suffering from severe COPD.


The second way in which poor air quality can have an effect on COPD is by increasing the risk of its development. Recent research has shown that air pollution is likely a major contributing factor in the risk of COPD. In particular, exposure to high levels of pollution from traffic exhaust has been identified as a major indicator of COPD risk.


   Can an Air Purifier Help?


Given this information about the effects of poor air quality on COPD patients, the question naturally arises of whether conventional air purifiers can help. Although specific studies into the efficacy of air purifiers for COPD patients have yet to be conducted, there is substantial reason to believe that the use of proper air cleaning systems can help to reduce the symptoms of the disease. By removing the pollutants and particulate matter that contribute to exacerbated COPD symptoms from home air, a high-quality air purifier may help to keep the condition under control.


Medical consensus on the effectiveness of better air quality in helping patients with COPD is sufficient that the COPD Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control list air filtration and the removal of home air pollutants (respectively) as means of treating the disease. The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends air filtration as a protective measure against high levels of the fine particulate matter that has been identified as a contributing factor in worsened symptoms and identifies COPD patients among the most at-risk individuals when ambient particulate matter levels go too high.