A Breath Of Fresh Air
All of us take the air we breathe for granted. We spend 90 percent of our day indoors. On a daily basis, we consume 4 pounds of water, 1 pound of food, and 22 pounds of air. Air is our most important nutrient. Of course, we assume the air we breathe is clean and not contaminated. Although Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is not considered a top Green Building Trend, clean air indoors is essential for our optimum health. A healthy environment is the main goal for eco-conscious design.
IAQ can be affected by many pollutants, irritants, and allergens – airborne dust, tree pollen, grass pollen, pet hair, pet dander, mold, bacteria, carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds (v.o.c.), dust mites and others. Source control is the primary method for improving IAQ. We experience more pollution and increased asthma conditions than those people spending more time outdoors. Indoor air filtration and ventilation systems may not always be optimum. If the HVAC systems are not functioning properly, you may be breathing contaminated air both at work and at home. The only way to mitigate poor air quality is to monitor your system and quickly remedy the problem, whether in your workplace or at home.
Indoor airborne pollutants are measured in microns. One micron is 1/25,000 of an inch. The size of a particle determines the degree of potential threat to human health. Mid-range particles pose the biggest threat and are most likely to become lodged in our lung tissue. These particles are small enough to get past the tiny hairs in our breathing passages, but are too large to be easily exhaled. Examples of mid-range particles are pollen, pet dander, mold spores, dust mite particles, auto exhaust, and particles from laser printers and copiers. These particles are known to trigger asthma episodes and allergy issues. Mid-range particles also cause health problems such as headaches, dizziness, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Poor air quality can also affect your energy level and your degree of alertness. We need to filter our air, just as we filter our water.
Assuring good air quality is of critical importance. One way is to purchase a proper in-room air purifier. An air purifier needs to be researched and meet required standards – the size of the room, how many times per hour the air is filtered and its capability of removing indoor pollutants. Two standards are also important in the selection process – the Clean Air Delivery Rating(CADR) and Energy Star. Each air purifier listed by CADR has been independently tested. Further details can be found at www.cadr.org. Energy Star is a government program that helps protect the environment through energy efficiency. An energy efficient choice can save 30% on energy bills with similar savings in greenhouse emissions. For details, visit www.energystar.gov.
The type of filter in the unit is also a consideration. Compare overall percentage of particles and the smallest size particle a unit can capture with the filter system. Several types of filter systems are available. They include electrostatic precipitators, HEPA filters and pre-charged filters. Hybrid/Combi filters combine the best features of mechanical and electrostatic technology.
The benefits of an electrostatic precipitator is how easily air can pass, its low noise level and low energy consumption. Disadvantages include that these systems generate ozone.
The benefits of a HEPA filter are that they clean up to 99.97% of small airborne particles down to 0.3 micron. Disadvantages include that these type of filters, developed in the 1940’s for submarines and power plants, are not so environmentally friendly, as they require a lot of energy to operate and have a high noise level.
Pre-charged filters have low energy usage, but are inefficient, as they lose their charge quickly.
As mentioned, the Hybrid/Combi filters combine the best features of each.
Remember to consider the room size for your filter. An air purifier should be placed in each room you want clean air. Refer to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) recommended room size to select the correct air purifier.
Check out the Blueair ECO 10 room air purifier in your research for air purifiers. It is considered the world’s most energy efficient air purifier. It uses 95% less energy that comparable units.
At the very least, remember to change or clean your a/c filters every month!!!!!