Why Indoor Air Quality is ImportantWhile people can survive days without food and hours without drinking water, nobody can last for more than a few minutes without air. We breathe over 3,000 gallons of air every day, so air quality is very important when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, air pollution affects in a negative way trees, crops, but the impact that it has on human health is what concerns the Environmental Protection Agency the most. Indoor air quality represents a major problem, which is why a large number of programs were established to reduce air pollution across the world. Studies have shown that 87 percent of Americans don’t realize the fact that pollution is worse inside their houses than outdoors, and that indoor pollution can be five times worse than outdoor pollution. Moreover, due to the diseases attributed to household solid fuel use, nearly 2 million people die prematurely, so controlling the quality of the air that you breathe is crucial when it comes to ensuring a safe environment.
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The Air Pollutants that Can Affect Your Indoor Environment
Ambient air pollution is a major environmental problem, which is why EPA considers that indoor air represents a risk to public health. What most people don’t know is that all types of homes can deal with this issue, no matter if they are in an urban city, or in a rural town. So, which are the factors that can influence your living space? The Clean Air Act set air quality standards for some of the most common pollutants:
- Carbon monoxide is a gas that is released when furnaces and house heaters burn fossil fuels, making it hard for the human body to get the oxygen that it needs to run properly. Dizziness, headaches, and tiredness are the main symptoms that people who are exposed to this contaminant deal with. Elderly persons who have a heart condition are hospitalized more often when they live in a space that contains higher quantities of carbon monoxide.
- Ozone is a pollutant that should not be confused with the protective layer in the atmosphere, as it can be found in two places. The harmful ozone is the one that can be found in the lower atmosphere, near the ground, and it forms as a result of nitrogen oxides interacting with volatile organic compounds. It can lead to a large number of health problems, including asthma attacks, sore throats, breathing difficulties and coughs.
- Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that has a strong smell, and it comes from engines burning fossil fuels. Those who are exposed to high levels of nitrogen can suffer from pulmonary edema and acute bronchitis as they present a higher risk to get respiratory infections.
- Lead is a metal that can be found in many forms. Inside a house, lead paint represents a source of this pollutant, especially when it is peeling. This blue-gray metal can have a devastating impact on a child’s development, as it can lower his IQ, and affect his kidneys. Furthermore, adults can deal with strokes and heart attacks, and when exposed to high amounts, they can suffer brain damage.
- Particulate matter is represented by dust, tobacco smoke, asbestos, and other impurities that are small enough to enter the lungs, and cause serious problems.
- Sulfur dioxide is an odorless gas that comes from factories which produce chemicals, fuel or paper. It irritates people’s eyes, throats, and noses, and it can cause asthma and emphysema.
Which Are the Benefits of Using an Purifier?
Besides removing the source, the only way that people can improve their indoor air quality is to opt for an air purifier. Controlling exposure to air pollutants can prevent 70% of asthma cases among children and adults, and based on the fact that indoor air contains higher concentrations of impurities, taking proper measures is required. So, opting for an effective air purifier is the best thing to do in this type of situations. Here are the advantages that you can get by using such an appliance:
It ensures a safe environment for your family
The good news about using an air purifier is that everyone can eliminate indoor pollution and create a safe living space. Giving that people spend most of their time indoors, we need to reduce the factors that pose threats to our health. Opting for a device that can clean your air gives you access to long-term health benefits, and allows you to protect your family from serious illnesses.
It creates better conditions for those who already suffer from asthma
Besides removing microns of 0,3 and larger sizes, an air purifier can remove allergens that represent a serious problem for people who have asthma. Making the air free from all sorts of particles that trigger allergies, represents a great relieve for those who experience discomfort and a generally bad condition. Moreover, feeling comfortable in your own home is very important when it comes to enjoying a convenient lifestyle, so, no matter if you already have an asthma condition, an air purifier can help you feel better.
It eliminates bad odors
Air purifiers have the capacity to remove bad odors, as they can eliminate cigarette smoke, cooking odors, medicinal odors, and any other type of smell. So, they are very effective when it comes to maintaining a great air quality.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Air Purification Systems
Deciding between the many types of air purifiers that exist on the market can seem intimidating, but once you will find out which the main categories are, you will be able to find a unit that can suit your expectations. The first thing that you need to know about these appliances is that some of them integrate technologies that filter the air, while others clean the air by destroying pollutants. So, let’s analyze the following options:
Home air ionizers use a method known as “corona discharge” to create negative ions that are essential for pure air. While a regular house doesn’t possess more than 100 negative ions per cubic centimeter, high-quality outdoor air contains up to 4,000 ions per cubic centimeter, so healthy air can be obtained with the use of ionizing purifiers. The negative ions generated by these devices attach themselves to air pollutants and impurities, making them too heavy to stay in the air, so even microscopic particles will fall to the ground. However, the resulting particles can stick to the ceiling, walls, and furniture, as they don’t get destroyed or held in a filter. So, there is a chance for them to recirculate. Air purifiers like the Alen BreatheSmart and GermGuardian AC4825 include an ionizer feature that increases their efficiency in removing air impurities.
An ozone generator is designed to alter oxygen molecules and turn them into ozone, which is the device’s main source of purification. Ozone attaches to any type of molecule that it contacts, which enables it to remove odors and kill mold and bacteria. Still, although manufacturers say that this type of device disinfects air, an ozone generator can be very dangerous to animals and people, as it can provoke asthma and affect the lungs. Being also known as a toxic gas, it can cause dangerous problems to those who overexpose themselves to it, and serious side effects can appear.
Electronic Air Cleaners
Electronic purifiers use an electrical field to catch particles, and they can be employed as central filtration systems or as portable units with fans. The advantage of purchasing this type of unit is that it features a low energy cost, allowing the user to eliminate pet dander and dust while saving money. Still, an increased airflow can affect its functionality, preventing it from delivering the best performance. Furthermore, it can’t remove contaminants like mildew, chemicals, smoke, and bacteria.
Filter Purifiers feature the capacity to draw air and trap particles in order to provide clean air. They can integrate different types of filter, including flat filters, which sometimes use a special substance to hold particles, pleated filters, which integrate a filtering area with an advanced density, and high-efficiency particulate air filters, also known as HEPA. HEPA purifiers like the Alen BreatheSmart or the Honeywell HPA300 were designed to allow only 3 particles out of 10,000 to go through the filter, so they have an efficiency of 97,97% for trapping particles of at least 0,3-micron diameter. Still, while they remove dangerous contaminants like bacteria, asbestos, lead paint, pharmaceutical dust, mold spores, and pollen, the HEPA air purifiers can’t remove bad odors, nor gases unless they also include an activated carbon filter.
Activated Carbon filters
These filters incorporate an absorbent material that chemically reacts with contaminants as they penetrate the filter. That is how air pollutants are bond with the carbon and, which doesn’t release them back into the air. Activated Carbon/Charcoal filters have the ability to eliminate chemical fumes, tobacco smoke, gases, and odors, but they can’t remove allergens like dust and micro-organisms. The Whirlpool Whispure AP51030K combines the efficiency of the activated carbon filter and the HEPA filter to ensure maximum performance in eliminating both air particles and odors.
What’s Behind our Ratings
If you want to invest money in a reliable air purifier, you need to pay attention to the following aspects:
Area Coverage and Filter Efficiency
Keep in mind that the square footage listed for the air purifier that you decide on must be about the same or bigger than the square footage of the space where you want to use it. Also, make sure that your system was designed to remove the same type of pollutants that exist in your indoor air. In order to make the best choice, you must first determine the type of contaminants that exist in your home, because, as we learned before, certain filters are built to eliminate certain pollutants.
If you decide on a HEPA air purifier, remember to check how much replacement the filters will cost. Giving that the price of an air purifier is not the only cost related to running such a device, you should consider the cost of replacing the filters. Changing the filters when required will help you maintain your unit’s functionality because that will prevent the motor from wearing out, and it will allow you to obtain the best filtration results.
Unlike other appliances, air purifiers operate continuously, so you should consider your energy bill before deciding on a certain type. Therefore, you must determine the daily kilowatt usage, and choose the unit that is more convenient. Moreover, we advise you to search for products that are Energy Star rated.
While some purifiers are very quiet, there are certain products that feature a loud operation. Therefore, you must search for an air filtration system that includes adjustable fans, because only that way you will be able to control the noise level on your unit. Making fan settings will allow you to adapt your air purifier to your needs, so we recommend you to ask for a demonstration before you buy an air filter/cleaner.
Buying a cheap purifier might seem perfect when you are on a budget, but if it comes with a short warranty, it might require a replacement sooner than you expected. That is why you must be effective when it comes to investing your money in a new appliance and choose the product that appears to be the most reliable. The best warranties are those that offer 5 years on the fan and motor components, like the Honeywell HPA300, so you should pay attention to this detail before buying a certain air purifier.