Monday, August 12, 2013

Indoor Air Quality and You - Part 2

     Let's talk about residential air cleaning systems, and how effective they are. Like most areas of the country, here in the Boise, Idaho area we have a goodly share of dust and allergens to condtend with. Not all indoor air cleaners are alike. Air cleaners are generally purchased to remove particulate like dust, smoke, allergens and spores from the air. Some remove just very large visible particles. Others are effective on allergen-sized particles. Now because of technology, some air cleaners can clean all the way down to virus-sized particles, like influenza virus, even the Swine Flue virus.
     What goes in and  gets trapped in our bodies? In the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages and pharynx) we find mold, spores, pollen, and dust mites. In the middle respiratory tract, (trachea and bronchi, aka lungs) We find smaller particles like bacteria, pet dander, small mold spores and dust. In the lower respiratory tract, (deepest part of our lungs) we find particles of 0.1 micron size. These are tobacco smoke, small bacteria and virus. Also microscopic outdoor dust particles. The bad news is, that the reaction of our body to these particles ranges from 'none' to 'extreme', like in the case of an asthma attack.
      So, the point is, the measure of the air cleaner's performance is the percentage of particles removed from the air. Only air cleaners designed to clean the air down to particles of 0.1 microns, and do it consistently, are the only type you should consider if you or your family suffers from allergies, asthma, etc. Standard furnace filters are flat, fibrous filters that are only designed to trap the very largest of particles. It's readily seen when you pull them out to change them. Really, in a sense, they are there to protect your furnace from dirt and debris, NOT to protect you and your loved ones.

     Next blog I will share information on HEPA filters, media filters, and other important health concerns. In the meantime read my other blogs at or you can visit our website at