Fact #1: Air is the number one way the human body is exposed to contaminants. The air we breathe is often full of contaminates – dust, pollen and noxious gases such as formaldehyde.
Fact: #2: According to the EPA, concentrations of many pollutants indoors exceed those outdoors.
Fact #3: Dirty air can cause significant health complications. Several studies have strongly linked air pollution to heart disease, asthma and depression.
While we cannot directly control the air we breathe outdoors or in the workplace, we can certainly take steps to improve indoor air quality in our homes. The Healthy House Institute (www.healthyhouseinstitute.com
) – a leading online resource for better and safer indoor environments – recommends considering investing in a portable air purifier to reduce contaminants in the home.
However, it is imperative the correct air purifier is purchased and used effectively to achieve maximum results. The Healthy House Institute provides the following tips to help ensure an air purifier meets your needs at home.
1. Determine which type of air purifier you need. There are two basic types of air purifiers on the market. Units that remove particles such as dust, pollen, mold and pet dander, and units that remove gases such as paint fumes and formaldehyde from glue in wood furniture. Some units can remove both particles and gases.
Air-cleaning devices designed to capture tiny particles from the air typically use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) technology. HEPA filters remove 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns in size. For reference, a single hair is typically 70 microns wide.
Air purifiers designed to remove gases and odors typically use activated charcoal or other material that binds to the pollutants. If you want to remove particles and gases, look for a purifier with both HEPA and activated carbon.
2. Evaluate the efficiency and certifications. A critical factor when selecting an air purifier is the device’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), established by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
This numerical rating measures how quickly a portable air purifier can remove pollen, dust and tobacco smoke from a certain square-foot dimension. Specifically, it measures how much air is moving through the filter, and the volume of filtered air delivered by an air purifier. The higher the number, the better—maximum CADR values are 450 for pollen and smoke and 400 for dust. For a list of certified air purifiers with their CADR values, visit www.cadr.org
3. Ensure you place the air purifier in the best location to achieve maximum results. It sounds obvious, but the key to achieving the cleanest air possible is to ensure the polluted air actually passes through the filter. Many contaminants will never reach a small device that is located in the corner of your bedroom.
For the best coverage, you may need to purchase several air purifiers depending on how big of an area they can clean, or at least shut the door to the room with the single air purifier to help keep out non-filtered air.
4. Run the air purifier as often as possible. If money or other factors like cost of electricity, cost of filters and ambient noise are not issues, run the air filter all the time or as often as possible. Indoor air is constantly being polluted and needs constant cleaning.
5. Change the filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Manufacturers provide a schedule of recommended times to change the filter. Be sure to follow these recommendations to keep your unit running in peak condition.
Dirty filters lose effectiveness over time. Plus dirty filters can result in higher electricity costs if the air purifier has to run for longer periods of time to clean the air.
If your air is especially dirty, you might need to replace the filter every few months. If the air is reasonably clean, once a year is sufficient. Many units come with filter-change sensors that alert you when they need to be changed.
EDITORS NOTE: Interested in more tips or interviewing an expert on home air quality? Healthy House Institute advisory board member Dr. Richard J. Shaughnessy is available.
Dr. Shaughnessy has served as program director of IAQ Research at the University of Tulsa since 1987. He has published extensively on indoor air particulates, air cleaner evaluation, indoor air chemistry, school environment studies, flooring studies, asthma/housing research, ozone-initiated indoor reactions, and resolution and remediation of bioaerosol-related problems. Dr. Shaughnessy received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tulsa.
About Healthy House Institute
Healthy House Institute® is a leading, online consumer and media resource for better and safer indoor environments. Its mission is to be the most comprehensive and in-depth educational resource available for creating healthier homes, covering topics such as air and water quality, building, remodeling and furnishing, cleaning and housekeeping, health and safety, ventilation, lighting, energy efficiency and more. Healthy House Institute features an advisory board of dozens of independent experts to provide high quality content and expertise. For more information visit www.healthyhouseinstitute.com