If You’re HEPA and You Know It…
Contributed by Lauren Beyenhof
Cystic fibrosis patients, asthmatics, and allergy sufferers alike need to be careful about the quality of air they breathe. Although it’s impossible to completely remove all airborne contaminants from a home or office, a safe and healthy option is to invest in a High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA).
When something is labeled as being a true HEPA, it is basically saying that its efficiency in removing certain contaminants from the air is 99.97% effective at removing particles that are .3 microns and larger in size. To get an idea of what that means, here is a list of contaminants and their sizes:
Pollen 10-60 microns
Mold spores 1-60 microns
Lint 10-60 microns
Dust 1-60 microns
Bacteria .25-20 microns
Smog .05-20 microns
Tobacco Smoke .05-5 microns
Viruses .01-.1 microns
HEPA filters are most effective at removing all of the things in this list except viruses.
When determining which type of air cleaning system would be best, keep in mind that an air filter is slightly different from an air purifier.
Air filters: trap airborne contaminants such as dust, mold spores, pollen, etc. in a physical way. Think of it like the lint trap in your dryer. When the contaminants are pulled out of the air, they are trapped by the filter.
Air purifiers: use an ionization process. What ionizing does is act on the part of the airborne contaminant that causes an unpleasant odor. It works sort of like a magnet. Two metal plates inside the unit will act as a force field upon any particles that get between them. When it "ionizes" these particles, the molecules can actually be pulled apart because of the charge. No longer in their original form, they don't smell. Ionizing units are great for removing musty smells, cigarette smoke, cooking odors, and other unpleasant airborne odors.
Are Ionizing Units Safe?
Many people are attracted to air purifying units (like the Ionic Breeze or the Living Air Purifier) that do not have filters that need to be replaced. Although the idea of less maintenance and less expense is nice, I strongly recommend biting the bullet and getting a unit with filters that can be replaced. Although they are very effective at removing odors, they are notorious for generating ground level ozone. Ground level ozone has been known to cause a reduction in lung function.
My Personal and Professional Pick
My personal and professional choice for an air filter is the Bionaire HEPA Tower. It is very efficient and the price is reasonable. It's far and away the quietest air filter I've found for its size. My favorite features are that it oscillates (which means it is able to do an even better job of moving the air) and it has a remote control. I am exceptionally pleased with this Bionaire product. I have researched air filters and purifiers for a number of years, and this product has the technology and aesthetics that I deem acceptable.
Lauren Beyenhof holds a degree in environmental science and has worked in the field of air quality for 8 years. Questions or comments? Send a PM to lightNlife. Her personal recommendation is her own point of view and is not endorsed or promoted by CysticFibrosis.com.
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