How Indoor Air Purifiers Can Lead to a Longer and Healthier Life
Poor indoor air quality is a problem even in developed countries. In America, for instance, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that household air pollution is among the top five environmental risks to public health and safety. Moreover, the American Lung Association 2017 “State of the Air” report shows that four out of every 10 Americans live in communities with poor air quality, which could be responsible for rising asthma rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 4.3 million new cases of asthma in America from 2001 to 2009.
It is worth noting that a 2001 survey by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that American spend 87% of their time indoors. Fortunately, an HEPA air purifier can eliminate up to 99.99% of indoor air contaminants larger than 0.3 microns. In fact, many medical and health organizations recommend installing such a device to prevent and protect against airborne allergens and promote respiratory health. With that in mind, here is a detailed look at air purifiers.
An Overview of Air Purifier
An air purifier is a device that filters pollutants such as pollen, mold, pet dander, VOCs, dust and smoke from the air. It is worth noting that different air filters use different techniques to achieve this goal. These techniques include ultraviolet light technology (UV), adsorption or chemisorptions, photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI). Here is a detailed look at some of these technologies.
UV Air Purifiers
These devices use ultraviolet rays, specifically the ionizing UV-C “germicidal” waves, to sterilize indoor air. They do this by destroying and eliminating biological pathogens such as mold spores and bacteria from the air. However, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Environmental Health and Safety department say that these purifiers may be ineffective and likely harmful due to several reasons (TemperaturePro Cedarburg offers the finest Lennox UV Air Purifiers in the industry).
Firstly, ultraviolet radiation typically requires a substantial amount of time to destroy microbes. However, since air passes quickly through these devices, the UV light is unlikely to destroy the microbes, meaning the air quality remains more or less the same. Secondly, several studies have shown that UV air purifiers tend to generate ozone as a byproduct. This is a problem because exposure to ozone can damage the lungs. According to the aforementioned researchers, an UV air purifier that does not include a fan and a filter is essentially useless.
HEPA Air Purifiers
HEPA, an acronym that means High Efficiency Particulate Air, is synonymous with efficient air cleaners. Generally, all HEPA filters should meet the requirements set by the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST). Specifically, HEPA filters should filter 99.97% of pollutants measuring 0.3 microns or larger. They are usually made of materials such as submicron glass fibers (Check out an excellent TemperaturePro option from Lennox) Being a type of extended surface filter, they contain of a complex web of fibers that trap air contaminants via diffusion, sieving, inertial impaction or interception.
Each of these methods applies to contaminants of different sizes. Sieving and inertial impaction works for large particles, whereas interception traps medium-sized particles. Diffusion eliminates small particles. It is worth noting that not all HEPA filters are created equally. This means that, while the basic technology is standard, manufacturers of air cleaners typically use variations of this technology to give their products a competitive edge. For this reason, you should read air purifier reviews before you buy a HEPA air purifier.
Mechanical Air Cleaners
To eliminate particulate matter from your indoor air, you can use either mechanical air filters or electronic air purifiers. Mechanical air filters trap particular matter on air filters. The filters can be either flat or pleated. Some of the materials used to make the filter media of flat/panel filter include coated animal hair, coarse glass fibers, foils, vegetable fibers, metallic wool, synthetic foams and synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester (this TemperatuePro out of Cedarburg product from Lennox is excellent to purify your home air)The filter media is usually coated with a viscous substance, such as oil, to increase its efficiency. Panel filters can also consist of three permanently electrostatically charged materials including “electret” fiber, plastic film and resin wool. An electrostatically sprayed polymer can be used instead of electret.
Pleated filters, on the other hand, are essentially flat filters that have been pleated in order to offer certain benefits. Firstly, it increases the surface area and reduces air velocity. Secondly, it allows for smaller fibers be used in pleated filters. Thirdly, it increases the packaging density without causing a large drop in airflow. A v-shaped cardboard or wire frame is usually inserted between the pleats to maintain their spacing. The media used in these filters includes bonded glass fibers, cellulose fibers, synthetic fibers, wool felt, fiber mats and cotton-polyester blends.
Electronic Air Purifiers
These air purifiers leverage the power of electrostatic attraction to trap air pollutants, particularly charged particles. They fall into two main categories: ion generators and electrostatic precipitators. Electrostatic precipitators consist of two main parts: the ionization section and the collection plate. These devices derive power from an external power source. To get rid of air pollutants, these devices pass air through the ionization section. As air passes through this section, the pollutants gain a charge. The collector (a series of plates) typically contains an opposite charge. This means that the charged particles stick to the collector, allowing the purifier to expel clean air. For this type of air purifier to work efficiently, the collector needs to be clean.
Ionizers work in a similar way to electrostatic precipitators, but they lack a collector. Specifically, ion generators use UV light or corona discharge to generate ions. When these ions attach to pollutants, they charge the pollutants, causing them to stick to objects and surfaces. Moreover, the charged pollutants can also combine with other pollutants and settle on surfaces. It is important to note that ionizers produce ozone as a byproduct, meaning they are a potential health hazard.
In-Duct Purifiers vs Portable Air-Cleaning Devices
In general, air purifiers are installed in an HVAC system or used in a portable air cleaner. In-duct or whole-house air filters are typically installed in the return ducts of HVAC systems, but are not necessarily intended to improve indoor air quality. For instance, the purpose of the filter that sits between the furnace and the air return duct is to filter the air flowing into the furnace, thereby protecting the components of the HVAC system including the ducts, heat exchanger and fan from soiling.
Still, you can install more air filters in your HVAC system to enable it to clean your indoor air more efficiently (An excellent choice this Lennox system offered by TemperaturePro out of Cedarburg).Besides air filters, some of the other devices you can use for this purpose include UV lamps, electrostatic precipitators and gas-phase filters for this purpose.
Portable air cleaners, on the other hand, are movable air cleaners suitable for relatively small spaces. A typical unit features a fan and an air-cleaning device such as an electrostatic precipitator, mechanical air filter or ion generator. The cleaning device may contain activated carbon to remove odors and gases. It is worth noting that some units lack a fan, meaning they are less efficient.