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WELLNESS ENVIRONMENTS: AIR

AIR CLEANERS

 

Air Cleaning

Under the right conditions, some air cleaners can effectively remove certain respirable-size particles (for example, tobacco smoke particles). Removing such particles may reduce associated health effects from eye and lung irritation to more serious effects such as cancer and decreased lung function.

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Some controversy exists about whether air cleaners can reduce the allergic reactions produced by larger particles such as pollen, house dust allergens, some molds, and animal dander.
Air cleaners that do not contain special media, such as activated carbon or alumina, will not remove gaseous pollutants, including radon, or reduce their associated health effects. Whether air cleaners that contain these media are effective in reducing health risks from gaseous pollutants cannot be adequately assessed at this time. In addition, the effectiveness of air cleaners in reducing the health risks from radon progeny (decay products) cannot be adequately evaluated at present. The removal of gaseous pollutants and radon and its progeny is not addressed further in this fact sheet. Health effects from these pollutants may be serious, however, and they are of concern in indoor air.

Types of air cleaners include:

  • Mechanical filters, similar to, and including, the typical furnace filter.
  • Electronic air cleaners (for example, electrostatic precipitators) which trap charged particles using an electrical field.
  • Ion generators which act by charging the particles in a room. The charged particles are then attracted to walls, floors, draperies, etc. or a charged collector.
  • "Hybrid" devices, which contain two or more of the particle removal devices discussed above.
    Selecting an Air Filter

At a minimum, consider the following major factors affecting the performance of the air cleaner:

  • The percentage of the particles removed as they go through the device (that is, the efficiency).
  • The amount of air handled by the device.
  • The effective volume of the air to be cleaned.
  • The decrease in performance which may occur between maintenance periods and if periodic maintenance is not performed on schedule.

One common method of rating high efficiency filters uses a procedure in Military Standard 282. This procedure measures how well small particles of a specific chemical are removed by the filter.

 

Adequate Performance

Adequate performance of any air cleaning system depends upon:

  • Proper installation, use, and care. Follow the manufacturer's directions to assure that the air cleaner works properly. To avoid any electrical or mechanical hazards, be sure the unit is listed with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another recognized independent safety testing laboratory.
  • Perform routine maintenance, as required. Generally speaking, air cleaners rigor frequent cleaning and filter replacement to function properly.
  • Proper placement. Place portable air cleaners so:

    - Near a specific pollutant source, if one exists.
    - They force the cleaned air into occupied areas.
    - The inlet and outlet are not blocked by walls, furniture, or other obstructions.
    - For in-duct devices, assure that the inlets and outlets of the heating or cooling
    system are not blocked by furniture and other obstructions.

 

Resources

 

Air Purifiers

Air Purifiers do not clean the air by filtration as HEPA air cleaners do. There generally use two types of air purifiers. More on air purifiers

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