Frequently Asked Questions about Air Quality
Air quality is a big issue these days because of the many different kinds of toxins being released into the air all the time. To help our clients we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions.
- What is a HEPA Air Cleaner?
- How Polluted is Indoor Air?
- What are the Sources of Indoor Air Pollution?
- What about Electrostatic Air Cleaners?
- What about Ozone Generators and Ionizers?
- What are the health effects of air pollution?
- I have allergies and would like to insure that the air indoors is clean. What can I do?
- What if I do not change my air filter on regular basis?
- Is indoor air pollution as harmful as outdoor air pollution?
- How important is indoor air quality to people?
- What causes indoor air pollution?
1. What is a HEPA Air Cleaner?
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters were developed during the early days of atomic research, in conjunction with the Atomic Energy Commission, to clean the air of hazardous radioactive particles. A true HEPA filter, like the Austin Air and Honeywell air cleaners capture more than 99.97% of all particles larger than .3 microns passing through the air filter. How big is that? A particle of tobacco smoke is 1 micron, household dust is 10 microns and a human hair is 70 to 100 microns thick. This type of indoor air purifier, a HEPA quality air filter, can help alleviate symptoms of allergies, asthma, sinus congestion and breathing difficulties. Today, HEPA air filters are the most advanced, environmentally friendly, and cost effective air purification systems available.[Back to Top]
2. How Polluted is Indoor Air?
The U.S. EPA considers indoor air pollution a high priority health risk and estimates it to be 4 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. We usually spend about 90% of our time indoors, more than half of this time in our homes. It makes sense to breathe fresh, clean HEPA-filtered air to reduce indoor air pollution and minimize allergies, asthma and other diseases. Everyday we typically breathe in two heaping tablespoons of airborne particles that our bodies must process and discharge. Medical experts agree that the smallest of these particles cause the greatest problems.[Back to Top]
3. What are the Sources of Indoor Air Pollution?
Some of these sources are: fiberglass insulation, pressed wood furniture and flooring, dry cleaning, dust mites, lead, aerosols, pesticides, tobacco smoke, carpets, paints, pet dander, pollen, Radon gas, solvents, cleaning products, mold spores, animal hair, bacteria, drapes and plastics just to name a few. A true HEPA filter removes all of these contaminants.[Back to Top]
4. What about Electrostatic Air Cleaners?
These products use a process of "charging" particles and attracting them to a collector plate. Electrostatic air cleaners are economical and energy efficient. However, they have limited air circulation, thus creating a small area of effectiveness and they do not remove gases or odors. They also produce Ozone, which can be a harmful irritant to people with respiratory problems.[Back to Top]
5. What about Ozone Generators and Ionizers?
Ozone (O3) is an unstable form of oxygen (O2) that oxidizes pollutants. However, this aggressive form of oxygen also can attack lung tissue in asthmatics and others with sensitive lungs. The oxidizing effect of ozone generators and ionizers is suspected to be a cause of accelerated aging and cancer. Many people are highly sensitive to the ozone generated by these devices.[Back to Top]
6. What are the health effects of air pollution?
Air pollution can affect anyone, no matter the status of their health. Most sufferers experience watery eyes, coughing, and wheezing but more serious symptoms are possible as well. People with respiratory conditions such as emphysema or asthma will always be affected first.
Small children will be affected first as well because children breathe at a much faster rate than do adults and inhale more polluted air. However healthy people can experience breathing difficulties as well, especially during vigorous outdoor exercise, such as running, or during strenuous work activities. The risk that you face depends on your own health, the type of pollutant and concentration, and the length of exposure.
Fortunately it is never too late to begin fixing your air quality. Once you start you will be amazed at the results.
7. I have allergies and would like to insure that the air indoors is clean. What can I do?
Indoor Air Quality has become a very serious problem because we are making homes more efficient by sealing them up against the outdoor elements. Fresh air stays out while indoor air pollutants remain trapped inside. Fortunately an air cleaner, media filter or HEPA system are all systems that can help alleviate air quality problems. Call Home Safe Home and we will schedule a visit to develop more specific solutions for your individual home.[Back to Top]
8. What if I do not change my air filter on regular basis?
Not changing the filter can reduce air flow, reduce the efficiency of your system or cause it to not function at all. Additionally, not changing the filter can lead to increased operating costs. All in all it just makes a lot more sense to mark the dates on your calendar and change the filters.[Back to Top]
9. Is indoor air pollution as harmful as outdoor air pollution?
In some ways indoor air pollution is worse. The American EPA has designated indoor air pollution a top 5 environmental issue because people spend 90% of their time indoors and Health Canada agrees. Basically the problem lies in the designs of today’s energy efficient homes and building designs which trap and re-circulate pollutants and toxins.
Fortunately there are many solutions to these problems depending on the individual situations.
10. How important is indoor air quality to people?
Think about it. Do you or someone you know have problems with allergies, asthma or chronic upper respiratory conditions? Most people can say yes to this question and we spend most of our time indoors so we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to have cleaner, healthier air to breathe.[Back to Top]
11. What causes indoor air pollution?
Many everyday unsuspected household items contribute to pollution or poor indoor air quality. Compounds found in carpeting, furniture, upholstery and drapery fabric constantly emit gas or fumes. Other sources of pollutants can include cleaning agents, paints and personal care products.
The problem lies in the fact that newer, more energy-efficient homes simply do not breathe like older homes. Things like weather stripping and storm doors keep indoor air in and outdoor air out. This provides energy savings, but the limited exchange of outdoor and indoor air can mean a buildup of contaminants inside your home. However, once you know about your own specific indoor air pollution problems you can take steps to deal with the problem.