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Frequently asked questions about air filters

   

 

Q. What do I need to know about air filters?

 

A. When we think of air pollution, we usually associate it with outdoor air. But with the growing epidemic of asthma in the United States in the last 20 years, especially among infants and children who spend most of their time inside, much attention has been given to indoor air. In fact, in 1990 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor air pollution as "a high priority public health risk."
The American Lung Association and the EPA both recommend three strategies for reducing indoor air pollution:

  • Controlling sources of pollution,
  • Ventilating adequately and
  • Cleaning indoor air.

The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about cleaning indoor air.

 
 

 

Q. Will installing air filters in my home help my asthma?

 

A. Although the American Lung Association and the EPA recommend air filtration, they say that controlling the sources of allergy-causing pollution and ventilation are more important. Air filters are worth considering, but not as a solution to your allergy problems by themselves. In fact, research studies disagree on whether or not filters give much added relief from asthma in a clean and well-ventilated home.
While many allergenic particles are suspended in household air, there are far more resting on surfaces like rugs, furniture and countertops. Keeping these areas clean is the most important step in controlling the cause of your asthma.

 
   

 

Q. Are there national health standards for air filter performance?

 

A. No. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has twice asked groups of experts to recommend national standards, but neither effort succeeded. Both groups concluded that there isn't enough research data on the relationship between air filtration and actual health improvement to recommend national standards.
When you shop for air filters, you will find several rating systems that claim to compare filters. But these are not health-related rating systems. They are standards used by manufacturers or manufacturers' organizations, and provide little or no guidance for the health-conscious shopper.

 
   

 

Q. Can filters actually "change the air" in a room?

 

A. Yes. When shopping for an air filter system, look for one that can recirculate 8 or 10 room volumes per hour. This doesn't guarantee completely clean air, but it will be much cleaner than with systems that recirculate less.
You should also ask about efficiency. You need a system that removes more than 90 percent of all particles larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. Most indoor allergens are larger than this, so this efficiency standard will handle them easily.

 
   

 

Q. Is there a type of filter that will be best for my asthma?

 

A. Yes. The most effective is a kind of mechanical filter called the high-efficiency particulate air (or HEPA) filter. (Note: This is a type of filter, not a product name.) HEPA was invented during World War II to prevent the escape of radioactive particles from laboratories. To qualify as a "true HEPA" filter, a device must be able to capture at least 90 percent of all particles 0.3 microns or more in diameter that enter it.
Be aware, however, that there are filters on the market that claim to be HEPAs, but may be only half as efficient. Insist on a system that meets "true HEPA" filtration standards. This way you will be certain to get a system that removes at least 90 percent of the indoor allergen particles.
The recommends that if you decide to clean indoor air, you choose a "true HEPA" filtration system.

 

 

     
 
 

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