Clean Up Your Indoor Air

by Jane VanOsdol on September 26, 2011

Many homeowners are becoming aware of the need to monitor the indoor air quality of their homes. This heightened awareness can come about as a result of a family member suffering from allergies or asthma, which can be triggered by pollutants outside of and inside of the home.

Sometimes the indoor air quality can be improved by allowing fresh air in the home. Often times, however, this is not a solution. Possibly the outside air is polluted, especially in large cities or metropolitan areas. Or perhaps the pollen or mold count is very high outside, making it counterproductive to open the windows. Or maybe it’s the winter season, and it’s just too cold to allow fresh air in the house. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists some of the pollutants that can effect indoor air quality.

Indoor Air Pollutants

Particulate Matter. These sources of pollutants can come from several sources and can cause from minor to serious health risks, depending upon a person’s sensitivity, allergic reaction and length of exposure to the irritant.

List of Particulate Pollutants: dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms, such as dust mites, molds, bacteria and viruses.

Gaseous pollutants. These sources of pollutants come from combustion processes and are off-gassed from certain materials.

List of Gaseous and Material Pollutants:  sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke, building materials, furnishings, carpet, adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products and pesticides.

Cleaning Up Your Air

When it comes to removing particulate pollutants from your home, you have two choices to help with indoor air cleaning:  mechanical air filters and electronic air filters. Mechanical air filters help clean the air by capturing the particulates on a filter. HEPA filters are an example of this. Electronic air cleaners use a process called electrostatic attraction to trap charged particles. These type of cleaners often contain the word ion on the box.

Gas-phase filters can remove some gasses from the air, but they are not widely used in homes, and they tend to have a short shelf life. UVGI cleaners use ultraviolet radiation to destroy biological pollutants that are growing on your heating and cooling system. They should be used in conjunction with a filtration system.

Ozone generators intentionally produce ozone to help clean the air, however ozone is a lung irritant. The EPA warns that these are not always safe or effective.

Overall, consult with your heating contractor to see if they have a recommended air cleaning system for your home, taking into account what type of pollutants you are most concerned about. Taking the time to make air home improvements in your home could help the allergic and asthmatic family members in your family breathe a little easier.

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