Air Purifiers: Do You Need One In Your Home?
Do you hear, “Bless you,” or “Gesundheit,” more often inside your home than outside of it? If so, you might need an air purifier. While some people suffer from pollen or seasonal allergies, others suffer more from allergies related to minute substances floating around inside their house. All homes have dust and dust mites no matter how well, or how often, they are cleaned. Pet dander is another common indoor allergen. Pollen isn’t just outside, it can also be carried into homes on pets and clothing, and can come into your home when doors or windows are opened. If you find yourself sneezing frequently, or having itchy, watery eyes indoors, you might benefit from an air purifier.
Do Air Purifiers Really Remove Dust and Pollen?
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association recommend air filtration for people with allergies and asthma, along with other preventative measures. High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters, or HEPA filters, remove even the tiniest particles from the air you are breathing inside your homes. HEPA filters were first developed during World War II to prevent the spread of radioactive particles outside of laboratories.
Other technologies used in air filters include such measures as thermodynamic sterilization, ionizer purifiers, photocatalytic oxidation, and ozone generators.
According to Chief of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Louisville, studies show that installing HEPA air filtration systems can remove 99.9 percent of air pollutants of 0.3 micrometers or larger, which includes most air-born allergens. This standard was set by the US Department of Energy in order for a filtration system to qualify as HEPA. If these systems are installed, and the filters changed or cleaned regularly, it can go a long way toward keeping the air we breathe inside our homes from worsening our allergy symptoms. And as an additional bonus, an air purifier will allow you to spend less time dusting, as it removes particles from the air before they land on our furniture.
If I Don’t Have Allergies, Can I Still Benefit From an Air Purifier?
Allergens are not the only pollutants found in indoor environments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mounting scientific evidence indicates that the air inside our homes and office buildings can be far more polluted than the outside air, even in industrialized cities. The EPA studies also showed that 90 percent of our time is spent indoors, making indoor air pollution a serious health concern, especially to the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory disorders.
In addition to Allergens, our indoor environments can harbor volatile organic compounds or VOCs. If you notice any strong odors in your air, such as chemicals, cleaning products, varnish or disinfectants, you could also benefit from an indoor air purifier. Formaldehyde, benzene, and other harmful substances could be off-gassing from carpets, mattresses, and furniture. In fact, that “new” smell that we generally like from brand new carpets and furniture, actually can actually be a sign of harmful VOCs.
According to studies by the EPA, even if you don’t notice any strong odors inside your home, levels of invisible, toxic VOCs can be two to five times higher inside than outdoors. VOCs can contain contaminants that are known carcinogens. Painting, renovating, and applying adhesives inside homes can cause levels of VOCs to rise to levels that can be hazardous.
Proper ventilation is very important to reduce these harmful levels, but if that isn’t enough, you might consider installing an air purifier that’s designed to remove harmful VOCs from off-gassing.
Some air purifiers are specifically designed to help remove these VOCs from the air inside our homes. Because HEPA filters are formulated to trap pollutants that are 0.3 micrometers or larger, they can effectively capture pollen, dust, and dander. VOCs however, are gasses and about 1000 times smaller than what HEPA filters can capture and absorb. Therefore, it’s important to look for an air purification system that is designed to help eliminate VOCs. Air purifiers with carbon filters can effectively reduce levels of VOCs from an indoor environment. Air purifiers with photoelectrochemical oxidation are the newest of air filtration properties that are specifically designed to reduce harmful VOCs.
Breathing clean air is beneficial to all of us, but especially those who suffer from allergies, asthma, or those who have reason to believe that their homes may contain products and furnishings that are off-gassing harmful chemicals.