Air quality can not only affect how your house smells and feels but can also negatively affect your overall health. The good news is that indoor pollution is more manageable than outdoors. There are many different sources of indoor pollution: your environment, pets, or old building materials.
The best way to improve the air quality in your home is to remove unwanted particles in the air using advanced air purification technologies.
Currently, there are quite advanced air purification technologies, including high-performance air purification filters, which we will discuss below.
HEPA (High Energy Particulate Air) filters are the most efficient filters available and remove 99.97 percent of dust and particles as small as 0.3 microns and larger. This type of air filter meets the U.S. Department of Energy standards.
HEPA filters comprised of a mat of randomly arranged fiberglass fibers with diameters between 0.5 and 2.0 micrometers. When air is passed through the mat, the microparticles stick to the fibers based on three mechanisms: interception, impaction, and diffusion.
In contrast to electrostatic air purifiers that do not require any filter replacement and remove only 30 percent of particles from the air, HEPA air filters require regular filter replacements. They can remove PM 2.5 and PM 10 particulate matter, pollen, mold, dust mites, some bacteria, tobacco smoke and pet hair and dander from the air. HEPA filters cannot remove odors and VOCs.
HEPA filters were originally developed in the 1940s for use in nuclear power plants to remove radioactive particles from the air. Today they are widely used in hospitals, in aircraft, industrial facilities, pharmaceutical plants, and many high technology industries that demand high air quality.
HEPA filtration is recommended for people with allergies and asthma. It can be used in homes and offices to keep the indoor air clean and free of germs.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon air filters are effective in removing gases (VOCs), fumes, and cigarette smoke and bad odor missed out by HEPA filter. The filters contain a layer of activated carbon, which can trap or interact with gases, chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, and odors and prevent them from passing into the air.
Activated carbon filters remove impurities from the air by a process known as adsorption (not to be confused with absorption). Adsorption is a process by which VOCs stick to the outer surface of the activated carbon molecules.
They are excellent for household use and can eliminate harmful VOCs released into the indoor air by cleaning supplies, paints, glues, varnishes, deodorants, insect repellants, room fresheners and scented personal care products. They can also remove cigarette smoke and stubborn odors.
Activated carbon can be treated chemically to target and remove certain pollutants. When carbon is impregnated with potassium iodide or blended with active alumina to increase absorption and neutralize the airborne formaldehyde or hydrogen sulfide.
Activated carbon filters are recommended for people who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and have high sensitivity to any airborne chemicals such as cleaning chemicals, fumes from household building materials and other chemicals. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter can be used to remove irritants from the air, especially including asthma sufferers, babies, children, and the elderly.
Most air purifiers contain a complex of a true HEPA and activated carbon filters that combine all the benefits of these types of air purification technologies.
Air ionizers create negative ions that change the polarity of airborne particles, causing them to magnetically attract together. Particles become heavier and settle on the ground or on walls instead of staying airborne. Air ionizer removes particles as small as 0.01 microns as well as neutralize chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, viruses, and bacteria.
Negative ionization technology is widely used in air purification to remove contaminants. A negative ion generator or an air ionizer uses electrostatically charged plates to ionize or electrically charge air molecules. Most substances found in ambient air have a positive charge. This causes the positively charged particles and pollutants in the air to stick to negatively charged gas ions like N2¯ and O2¯.
The mechanism is similar to static electricity. As soon as the positive particles and the negative gas ions fuse together, they become too heavy to float in the air and fall down to the ground or stick to surfaces. This prevents them from entering our respiratory tract through inhalation and can be cleaned by cleaning activities like dusting, washing, and vacuuming.
Air ionizers remove only about 30% of particles and do not take in all the air in an enclosed room. Electronic air purifiers do not need filter replacement, they only require cleaning of the collection plates for optimal efficiency.
However, the negative effect of ion technology is that it produces small amounts of ozone which may cause health problems including irritation of the nose, throat, and esophagus, coughing and wheezing. Prolonged exposure to ozone may also cause lung disease.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
Germicidal UV lamps can effectively kill germs, viruses, mold, and bacteria. However, the UV lamps cannot remove most allergens and dust, chemical fumes, gases, or cigarette smoke.
It is important to use UV technology in combination with HEPA air filters and possibly activated carbon. Without a particulate filter system like a HEPA air filter, too many microorganisms may be hidden from the UV light, since it is not easily located on an air filter.
Ozone generators are air purifiers that intentionally produce ozone. Ozone is an excellent sterilizer. However, ozone is not effective at cleaning the air except at extremely high, unsafe ozone levels. Ozone generators are used in hospitals and commercial applications to remove airborne particles, chemicals, mold, bacteria, spores, viruses, and odors by professionals.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared ozone to be a toxic gas. Some people are sensitive to ozone itself that cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and trigger asthma and lower lung capacity at high concentration. Ozone generators can be used in facilities where human presence is not required.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides Ozone exposure levels that have been adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
These are leading air purification technologies that are currently available and can be used safely at home, with the exception of ozone generators. Ozone generators are used only in hospitals and commercial facilities by trained professionals.
Thus, you can control the air quality in your home by choosing the right air purifier depending on your concern (allergens, chemicals, smell, pet dander, smoke). Leave your comment below if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.