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Why and How Pet Bird Owners Should Choose an Air Purifier

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Anybody who keeps one or more pet birds in their home will tell you about how such small, innocuous pets can be remarkably high maintenance, especially when it comes to keeping the environment sanitary. However, while most good bird owners take every precaution to ensure that their birds cannot spread illness and disease, there is one hidden danger that many bird owners overlook, primarily because they can barely see it—bird dander.

While bird dander may seem like a harmless powder, this insidious substance can cause serious sanitation and health problems if left unchecked. As such, even the most casual bird keeper should use air purifiers to keep this dander from causing damage.

What Is Bird Dander?

Bird dander is similar to the dander produced by the fur of cats and dogs and consists of fine, powdery particles that are produced by a bird's feathers and skin. This stream of particles contains fragments of dirt, feathers, skin, fecal particles and other unpleasant bird byproducts and is often fine enough to remain invisible until significant deposits have built up. Parrots are particularly notorious for producing particularly large amounts of fine dander, often referred to as simply “bird powder”. 

As you can imagine, having these particles of unpleasant matter drifting around your home and settling in nooks and crannies is hardly ideal, and leaving bird dander to accumulate can pose a serious sanitation hazard.

In extreme cases, bird dander can cause dangerous allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Bird dander can also be dangerous to the birds that produce it, as they are not used to inhaling their own dander in a natural habitat full of humidity and wind currents.

How Do I Get Rid of Bird Dander?

At the very least, bird owners should take care to remove bird dander as it accumulates on floors and furniture using a vacuum cleaner. However, this only tackles dander once it has had a chance to settle and does nothing to remove airborne particles of dander from the air inside your home—indeed, vacuuming dander can cause clouds of it to billow into the air, making the air even more polluted.

As such, bird owners should install at least one “sub-HEPA” air purifier close to their bird's enclosure as a first line of defense against airborne dander problems. Air purifiers function by sucking in air and passing it through a series of filters—before venting the purified air back into your room. Sub-HEPA air purifiers are capable of filtering out even the finest particles of dander from the air.

What Type of Air Purifier Should I Choose for My Birds?

There are many types of air purifiers that are suitable for filtering out bird dander, and many specialists offer  a number of models ideal for avian use. However, to ensure that both you and your birds benefit the most from your new purifier, you should keep the following rules in mind:

  • Go big, but not too big. Bigger is not always better, and a large air purifier placed in a small room can waste energy and create distracting noise. 
  • Avoid ionisers and ozonators. These purifiers are highly efficient, but there is some controversy over whether their use can affect the health of pet birds. Steer clear if you wish to play it safe.
  • Opt for sub-HEPA filtration. If you choose an air purifier that uses conventional filters, such as standard HEPA filters, they will only remove particles down to 0.3 microns at best. They therefore miss the ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. Choose an air purifier that is compatible with filters that are sub-HEPA certified to at least 0.1 microns. These specialised filters are incredibly fine and use a randomised layout of fibres to catch detritus, making them capable of plucking even the finest particles of dander from the air.

Of course, the best way to ensure that the air purifier you choose is fit for its purpose is by speaking to an expert on the subject, and Air Cleaners Australia is happy to offer advice and guidance on which types and makes are most suitable for bird keepers. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to  contact us.