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Answer from Home Air Purifier Expert:
Firstly, please avoid ionizers. Most are junk and some even emit dangerous Ozone gas or become fire hazards if not cleaned regularly.
Secondly, I can relate to your plight. I'm a blood hound when it comes to detecting chemical odors. We are not alone. I have received and read many complaints about chemical odor off-gassing from the plastic components, seals, filter media, or adhesives used within certain models of home air purifiers.
The warmer the air passing over certain synthetic materials, such as plastics and foam, the higher the degree of off-gassing tends to be. This may be why these chemical odor complaints seem more numerous during summer months, plus the fact air purifiers are run more during warm peak allergen seasons.
Plus there is a serious indoor toxin problem created by chemical solvent fumes off-gassing from many "Made in China" products, including the cheap and not so cheap imported air cleaners full of plastics and adhesives.
There is one model of air cleaner which contains a small internal furnace to incinerate and neutralize mold spores and other biological indoor air pollutants. Since the furnace is within a plastic housing, I'd expect that even with little heating, that model might produce some chemical odor. From my lab experience I know that some heat resistant oven materials, such as refractory materials, may also produce a strong odor even with little heat. The unit also has no filter media, so some of the partially incinerated particles still remain in the air, likely contributing an odd odor too.
But even the best of breed top-rated HEPA air purifier model has at one time or another had this chemical smell issue, though they've since responded to the customer complaints and started using less toxic materials for internal components.
Chemical off-gassing is something the leading producers have started to pay more attention to as awareness and sensitivities to chemicals grows. Well established manufacturers of the best rated air purifiers have tended to move toward using more stable inert non-toxic green materials, such as soy-based foam seals, which are safer for even the most chemically sensitive individuals, such as those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome.
Among the most affordable of models with minimal to no off-gassing and robust filtration ability is the very popular Austin Air Healthmate Junior Air Purifier HM200 at a retail price of about $375 as of this writing. Click the link for live chat with an expert or to read expert reviews about Austin Air purifiers.
Positive Austin Air Purifier Consumer Reviews and Ratings:
Out of the 211 consumer reviews for Austin Air Healthmate currently on Amazon.com, the HM200 has an impressive average rating of 72% of all reviews being 4 to 5 stars. And those with MCS and sensitivity to fragrances and other chemicals and allergens seem to also give it favorable reviews and ratings.
Tip: You can click any image in the gallery below to chat live with a healthy home expert who can help you choose an air purifier to suit your specific needs. You will also be able to see an expert Austin Air Purifier review and ratings for each model, including detailed price comparisons, more features, and more proof of why these are excellent and affordable air cleaners for common allergens such as dust, pet dander, fur, and chemicals...and with no off-gassing issues from the housing.
No Off-gassing of Chemical Odors:
Austin Air Healthmate air purifiers are a good option for those sensitive to chemical off-gassing from plastic materials, one reason being that instead of cheap plastic, they have a durable 360 degree high quality steel housing with a baked on powder coat finish. Healthmate Jr is also approved by the NRTL, the CSA, and the CE.
Efficiently Filters Out a Wide Scope of Both Solid and Gaseous Air Pollutants:
The Austin Air Healthmate Jr HM200 contains both carbon/zeolite filtration for adsorbing many chemical pollutants/odors. And a surface area of 30 square feet of true medical-grade HEPA filter media efficiently captures the tiniest of solid air pollutants, such as house dust, insect/dust mite allergens, pet fur, pet dander, pollen, bacteria, and other tiny air pollutants such as disease-causing microorganisms.
Efficient Sub-micron Particle Filtration:
Independent air particle tests have proven that within the first air pass an Austin Air Healthmate Jr HM200 air cleaner can filter out nearly 90% of solid air pollutant particles larger than 0.3 microns. And with multiple air changes per hour it is rated to remove 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns. So it's great if you are concerned about pet allergens and house dust in particular. But with true medical grade HEPA filter media this simple work horse can even remove viruses from your indoor air.
Advanced Chemical, Gas, and Odor Filtration:
With well over 6 pounds of Activated Anthracite Carbon+Zeolite media it can efficiently capture and remove chemical fumes, VOCs, and odors from your home air. That's MUCH better than the miniscule carbon dusting many of the cheap Chinese imports include just so they can add "chemical air purifier" to their marketing materials, even though it would become saturated very fast. Austin Healthmates contain the significant POUNDS of chemical filter media I love to see. It has plenty of chemical media to assure it will keep working to adsorb chemical gases and odors for a long time in most typical home indoor air situations.
Austin Air purifiers are proudly made in America!
Austin Air has been around many years and is one of the leaders with a great reputation in the home air purifier industry.
Austin Air Cleaners are consistently rated highly by consumers and as an indicator they were chosen for use by the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deal with the severe air quality issues resulting after by the 9/11 attacks and destruction on the World Trade Center in New York City (according to AustinAir's website).
Decent Air Changes Per Hour:
Despite being such a compact air purifier, independent tests prove it can still achieve an actual performance of 6 air changes per hour on the high fan speed setting in a room nearly 160 square feet in size. Still pretty good.
At the lowest fan speed, independent testing showed an actual delivered air flow rate of >31 cubic feet per minute. At medium fan speed air flow rate was >62 cubic feet per minute. And at the highest fan speed the air flow rate was 125 cubic feet per minute.
Compact and Light:
The Healthmate Jr takes up little space, having dimensions of: 16.5" H x 11"W x 11"D, and it weighs only 24 pounds.
Very Low Annual Cost of Ownership:
Besides the reasonable price tag, the overall cost of ownership is very low too because the filters are said to be rated to last up to 5 years at normal usage levels, which is very good. And energy consumption is only 80 watts with power requirments of 120 volts and 1.0 amp.
But if you run this air purifier every day, all year long, and on the higher fan speeds, it's probably more realistic to expect to get several years out of the filters before replacement filters are needed. This is still excellent compared to most room air cleaners.
And when you do replace the filters, the annualized replacement filter cost of only $29 (assuming you stick to the 5 year replacement schedule) is VERY low compared to the hundreds of dollars for annualized replacement filter costs of many other less effective models.
Generous 5-Year Warranty:
Austin does offer a rare 5 year pro-rated warranty on the filters to back up their 5-year filter rating claim, which is unheard of in the purifier industry. The warranty states that you will receive a percentage discount on replacement filters if for any reason you do decide you need new filters before the 5 years. They also offer a generous 5 year warranty on parts and labor.
Simple and Dependable:
Being no-frills, the Austin Healthmate units are very simple to operate and maintain. With less potential for digital issues and complexity, some people seem to consider this lack of smart controls to be an attribute rather than a drawback.
Smart controls tend to add significant extra cost and more opportunity for malfunctions. So this unit without extra micro-controllers is much more affordable while still being a highly efficient home air cleaner.
A two stage pre-filter catches larger and medium sized solid particulates:
The pre-filter stages help extend the life of the inner HEPA and Chemical filter media by helping to keep the finer inner media pores from becoming clogged with course dust.
You can simply vacuum the pre-filter every couple of months to help maintain HEPA/Chemical filtration efficiency. Or simply replace the very affordable pre-filters every year.
A few drawbacks include:
It's not the quietest air purifier, being a bit loud on the higher fan speed settings at 64 dB. But 39.8 dB on the lowest setting is bearable while sleeping or otherwise, in my opinion, while still moving air at a high enough rate to provide effective air purification in smaller areas.
The Austin Healthmate Junior also has no smart features, such as filter life indicator. The filters can be a bit challenging to change, and room size coverage seems a bit over-stated.
Review Summary for Austin Air Healthmate Junior:
Model HM200 Austin Air Healthmate Junior Air Purifier is one of the best values in the home air purifier industry. It is an efficient yet compact room air cleaner for effective overall allergen control at a very reasonable price and very low cost of ownership compared to most other air purifiers in this price range.
If you want more than double the capacity and have a larger area to cover as compared to Austin Air Healthmate Junior Air Purifier model#HM200, then consider the much more robust Austin Air Healthmate Standard HM400 Air Purifier, currently selling for only about $539. The HM400 Austin Air Healthmate Standard air cleaner is physically larger for greater air cleaning capacity. It's even better for allergen control, containing roughly twice the HEPA and Chemical filtration media as the Junior HM200 model. HM400 can more efficiently filter air within a larger indoor area up to 938 square feet, and also has castors for easier transport.