Breathe Easier in Your Home
HEPA Air Filter Guide & 7 Simple Steps to Cleaner Indoor Air
Take a bus ride at noon and choose a seat where you can have a clear view of the door opening and closing. Take a close look at the passengers boarding and alighting at the door. Under the bright sunlight, you can see large amounts of specks raining on the passengers as they step out from the bus. Those specks are dust, something that you definitely want to avoid and would not wish that you had sat as farthest from the door as possible.
You are thankful that you would be home soon, where you will be safe from all the dust, germs and mites. The air indoors is definitely cleaner with the windows and doors being kept closed most of the time and air-conditioners and fans providing circulation, right? The answer is no.
Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air
Does indoor air ever crossed your mind as being much worse than the air outdoors, the one containing smoke emitted by vehicles, factories and cigarettes? Well, believe it or not, the air that you breathe at home and at the office actually contains more pollutants than the air outdoors. Every house with plants, pets and people contributes to the pollution of indoor air, leaving the air at least two to four times more polluted than the ones outside. As 90% of the air taken in indoors, people tend to develop asthma, allergies and hypersensitivity. The less resistant and unfortunate are diagnosed with respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer after prolonged exposure to indoor pollutants.
It is crucial to purify the air you breathe so that you can protect yourself and your family from airborne contaminants that pose a high risk to health. There aren’t many who even realize the quality of indoor air is worse than that or outdoors, let alone given thought to cleaning the air indoors. So why not start by cleaning our indoor air as people around the world are busy finding solutions saving the air from being polluted even further? There are two approaches that you can take in improving the quality of air indoors – source control and cleaning the air.
Source control vs. cleaning the air
Source control simply means tackling the real source of the pollutants by reducing it or lessening its effects. Going au natural through plants is one example of many source control methods. Enforcing strict rules such as no smoking in the house is also one of source control strategies.
Cleaning the air is what people normally opt for by using highly efficient air cleaners that are effective in reducing the quantities of indoor pollutants. Those preferring a more natural and economical approach could use plants such as the English Ivy which can help remove pollutants and provide healthier air indoors but generally, people go for air-cleaning devices. There are many of these in the market with the two most well-known types being the air filter and air purifier.
HEPA filters: The most effective indoor air filter
Air filters work in two ways, mechanically and electronically. Mechanical air filters remove particles by capturing them on filter materials whereas electronic air cleaners trap particles through the electrostatic attraction process. High efficiency particulate arrestor (HEPA) filters are a type of mechanical air cleaners. HEPA filters are said to be the most effective at capturing dust and removing indoor pollutants. It traps, filters and removes allergens such as dust, smoke, out-gassing chemicals, pollen and odours, allowing only the clean air to return into the indoor environment. However, HEPA air cleaners works best at cleaning air in an enclosed space. The filters typically last a year before you would need to replace it. Some examples of the best air filters available in market are from Coway and AAF. Other renowned HEPA air filters include the bagless vacuum Samsung’s HEPA 11 Filter Twin Chamber, Sanyo Air Washer 4-Stage HEPA Filter Air Purifier with Electrolyzed Water and Electrolux HEPA Filter for vacuum cleaners.
Air purifiers for microorganism elimination
Consumers worried about the quality of air indoors have another option of an air-cleansing device, the air purifier. Air purifiers do more than just trap physical contaminants; they eliminate bacteria, viruses and fungus too.
The most commonly used form of air purifier is the Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) which uses ultraviolet light systems to kill harmful microorganisms that could potentially be a health threat. The ultraviolet light systems are nothing to worry in terms of health and safety as the light systems are of medical grade. An air purifier also traps dust, mites, pollen and smoke, so the room’s occupants are protected from both visible and naked-to-the-eye contaminants. Top brands of air purifiers include Okamizu, Coway and Medklinn.
Another type of air purifier that is gaining popularity is the ozone generator or ozone ionizer, which is often confused with HEPA filters. Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in our atmosphere but unnaturally at ground level. Ozone-ionizer air purifiers do not clean the air by filtration but rather, by oxidation process. These ozone generators produce vast amounts of ozone, which oxidizes many chemicals. Ozone is indeed a powerful oxidant gas which is commercially used to remove strong odours caused by flood, fire, mould and even the stench of decaying flesh. As such, you can be assured that when the oxidation process is complete, odours are almost gone from the room. However, read on to determine if an ozone generator is really what you want for your home and family.
Ozone generators threatens your lungs
As effective ozone generators are in removing contaminants, they need to be checked and certified safe for use by the authority bodies. This is because ozone is such a strong oxidant gas that high levels of it is harmful to respiratory system, particularly your lungs. It reduces lung function, exacerbates asthma and makes your lungs more vulnerable to infection. Extreme levels of ozone are even more detrimental to health; it damages the mucus membrane (the membrane that lines the respiratory and alimentary tracts that comes into contactwith air).
And with all that risks, it would be shocking to know that these ozone generators do nothing except remove odours. Yes, contaminants continue to roam the room, only that stale cigarette smoke odour will be gone. Killing microbes with an ozone generator is possible but very high levels of ozone would be required and you would probably perish along with those microbes as well. Therefore, there is really no need to purchase an ozone generator unless all you want to do is to remove odours.
What to look for when buying an air cleaner?
When you are looking for an air purifier, choose the one that quietly and effectively lowers the airborne particle count in your home with several air changes per hour and a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). Always compare the air purifiers you want to buy based on its functionality, safety, features (such as convenience and noise levels) and help and support. Several other factors to consider are the costs, installation process, odours and soiling of walls and other surfaces.
If you are considering an ozone generator, make sure that you check if the filters are certified by government or independent companies. Air filters are usually certified by these bodies after they have been tested for compliance with safety codes especially the permitted levels of ozone production.
Having clean fresh air is a gift. If you’ve overlooked how precious clean fresh air is, just think of the days when a haze engulfed the nation, leaving people with breathing difficulties and various respiratory problems. What you can do to help your air cleaners work more effectively is to dust and clean regularly to minimize irritants in the air, hence helping the filters work more efficiently and produce clean air. Finally, don’t forget to change the filters once you have it installed, especially if you have allergies or live with smokers and pets.
How to Choose a HEPA Air Purifier
Choosing the right air purifier for your house can seem like a daunting task if you do not know where to start. The HEPA air purifier is by far the most efficient air filtration system, but you should make sure your chosen air purifier meets these five criteria:
Contains a medical grade HEPA filter.
Some air purifiers contain HEPA-like filters, instead of medical grade HEPA filters, and should be avoided. Medical grade HEPA filters eliminate 99.97% of air pollutants up to 0.3 microns in size. Hospitals utilize medical grade HEPA filters and everyone should follow suit as it is the only way to guarantee the purest air available. If a filter is not a medical grade HEPA, it will not provide the same quality.
High capacity pre-filter.
A pre-filter is imperative to increase the life of your HEPA air purifier. It catches the larger pollutants that can potentially clog the HEPA filter and cause it to operate less efficiently. The HEPA filter is designed to remove the smallest particles from the air and needs the help of a pre-filter to catch pollutants that are usually visible to the naked eye such as dust. By collecting the bigger particles, it extends the life of the HEPA filter, passing the savings onto you.
Contains activated carbon.
HEPA air purifiers with activated carbon are in a class of their own. Activated carbon is carbon that is treated with oxygen, making it more permeable. Any chemicals or pollutants that pass through the activated carbon become attached to a pore of the carbon and are removed from the air. It is invaluable in its function to help the HEPA air purifier remove that much more impurities from the air.
Does not promote the off-gassing of chemicals.
Some brands of air purifiers are made with poor quality plastic that can off-gas Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which pollute your home. This is entirely counterproductive and can be avoided with an air purifier that does not promote VOCs.
Does not produce ozone.
Another counter productive trait of some air purifiers is its ozone producing ability. Ozone is a charged oxygen molecule and harmful in large doses. The most common type of purifiers that create ozone are ionizers. They use an electro-static process to purify the air which emits a clean and crisp smell. You would think this was the smell of pure air, but it is not and should be avoided at all costs.