Finding the Right Air Purification Cleaner

There has been a great deal of discussion about air pollution, unfortunately most of it has been about the quality of air outdoors. Very little of it is about indoor air pollution. Yet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that people spend 90 percent of their time indoors and that indoor air pollution can be as much as two to five times higher inside than outside.

The air you breathe inside your home could be making you sick. Indoor air pollution has been linked by the EPA to headaches; dizziness; fatigue; eye, nose and throat irritation; along with symptoms similar to colds and asthma. Continued exposure can cause some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer.

What can be done? The EPA suggests three major strategies: reduce air pollution, increase ventilation, and using air purification cleaners. Air purification cleaners might not remove gaseous pollutants, but they can eliminate particles such as pollen, pet dander, smoke, and dust from your air. There are four major types of air purification cleaners: mechanical filters, electronic, ion generators, and hybrids. Hybrid devices are air purification cleaners that combine any or all of the methods.

Mechanical filters contain a fan that forces air through a filter. The typical furnace filter is an example of a mechanical filter. Mechanical filters can be classified by the amount of pollutants (o.3 microns or larger) they remove from the air. HEPA, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, are designed to remove 99.97% of all airborne pollutants. ULPA, or ultra-HEPA filters, are capable of removing 99.999% or all airborne pollutants.

Electronic filters use an electrical field to trap charged particles. They can be either electrostatic filters or electro-static precipitators. Electrostatic filters have a static charge on their filters that causes airborne particles to stick to their filter. Electro-Static Precipitatorscreate opposite charges on their metal plates or wires that attract particles that contain an opposite charge.

Ion generators also use static charges to remove particles from the air. They charge the particles in a room, which then attracts the particles to the walls, floors, draperies, or other parts of the home or to a charged collector.

Choosing the Right Air Purification Cleaner

Finding the right air purification cleaner can be confusing because there is no universally accepted method for comparing them. When shopping for an air purification cleaner, a consumer will be bombarded by phrases and acronyms such as air efficiency, air circulation rate, CADR, AHAM seal, and ASHRAE Atmospheric Dust Spot Test. Not to mention the math computations used to figure out some of these things. Finding a good air purification cleaner doesn’t have to be confusing as long as understand some of the basic terms.

The efficiency of an air purification cleaner is measured by how well it is capable of collecting pollutants from the air. The air circulation rate is calculated by how much air it draws through the cleaning filters and expressed in cubic feet per minute. You should consider both of these factors before making a purchase. If either the efficiency or the air circulation rate is low, the cleaner will not be very effective.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is an organization that certifies the testing results of home appliances such as room air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and room air cleaners. Air purification cleaners with the AHAM seal will list three clean air delivery rates (CADR) numbers that indicate the volume of tobacco smoke, pollen, and dust that is filtered by the air purification cleaner. The AHAM recommends that you purchase an air purification cleaner with a CDR that is at least two-thirds of your room’s area. For example, a 10″x10″ room has an area of 100 square feet should use an air purification cleaner that has a CADR of at least 67.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) atmospheric dust spot test is used to evaluate low efficiency filters like the ones found in residential furnaces and air-conditioning systems. Filters that have a 90% air efficiency rating on the ASHRAE atmospheric dust spot test are considered excellent protection against all smoke particles and useful on all pollens, the majority of particles causing smudge and stain, and coal and oil smoke particles. Most hospitals use air purification cleaners with an 80% efficiency rating on this test.

Other considerations you should take into account when purchasing an air filter are noise and maintenance costs. Some air purification cleaners can be noisy, even at their lowest speeds. You should also consider the maintenance costs, such as the cost of replacement filters, could be quite high.

Finding the right air purification cleaner is just one of the ways that you can reduce indoor air pollution. Making sure that the air your family breathes is the best quality will not only help you all breathe a little easier–it will give you peace of mind.

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