Every day, you inhale about 11,000 liters of air. The air you breathe circulates throughout your entire body, providing critical fuel to internal organs, including your heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
If the air that you breathe is polluted, in a matter of moments, you can introduce toxins into every cell of your body.
When we think about air pollution, most of us visualize big industrial plants billowing out smoke. Most people believe that they’re safe from these pollutants when they’re inside their homes. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air in the United States can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Many people find themselves complaining of recurring nasal congestion, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, or sneezing – without realizing that these are common symptoms of exposure to indoor air pollution. Other symptoms may include wheezing; irritability; itchy throat, nose, or skin; dry or watery eyes; hives; coughing; and even stomach aches.
While these common ailments can be uncomfortable, they are relatively mild compared to the problems that air pollution can cause in the long run. Indoor air pollution has been linked to serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. According to the World Health Organization, children are particularly vulnerable to the health problems that can arise from indoor air pollution.
Pollutants found within your home originate from both internal and external sources. Within your home, your air could be contaminated by:
The most common external sources include pollen, dust, and pollutants that come in through ventilation systems and through open doors and windows. As well, many homes are contaminated with radon, which can come through the cracks in basements and crawl spaces.
These are some of the steps you can take to reduce the levels of pollutants in your home:
There are a number of different types of air filters available on the market today and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. You should evaluate a number of different criteria, including the type of filter used, contaminants removed, the CADR or performance rating, noise level, and the cost of replacement filters.
Here is a high-level summary of what you need to know to help you make an informed choice.
HEPA is an acronym for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. These filters are designed to trap 99.97% of airborne particles as small as .3 microns. Ultra-HEPA filters go even further, removing particles as small as .003 microns (100 times smaller than HEPA).
HEPA filters are the most commonly used air filters and the ones generally recommended by medical professionals. They are virtually 100% effective at removing most particulate matter from the air – including pet dander, mold, pollen, dust mite debris, bacteria and most viruses. Ultra HEPA will capture the smallest viruses and the smallest airborne particulates like smoke. HEPA only does half the job of purifying the air because it does not remove chemicals, gasses fumes, aerosols, and other VOCs.
Charcoal and activated carbon complement HEPA by removing contaminants in a gas state that HEPA alone cannot remove. Inexpensive air purifiers found at big box retailers that claim to have a charcoal filter usually only have a thin fabric impregnated with charcoal that at best reduces odors and loses its effectiveness in a matter of days. To effectively remove gasses, volatile organic chemicals, and ozone, look for an air purifier that has a substantial activated carbon filter, which is around an inch thick filled, with little pellets of activated carbon. In order to remove formaldehyde, a concerning contaminant outgassed by building materials, the activated carbon filter material should also contain potassium permanganate, a pinkish mineral that removes aldehydes including formaldehyde from the air.
Electronic filters, also known as electrostatic precipitators and ionic air purifiers, work by putting a positive or negative charge on the incoming air and then capturing contaminants on oppositely charged collection plates. The collection plates can either be metal or plastic. Electronic filters either circulate the air silently without fans or actively with fans. Like HEPA filters, they are not effective at capturing gasses or reducing odors.
For most people, the disadvantages of electronic filters make them a poor overall choice.
In addition to looking at the type of filter your system has, you may also want to evaluate the CADR rating of the air purifier. CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate, and it is a standardized system for reporting the effectiveness of a particular air purifier in removing smoke, dust, and pollen from the air. The higher the number, the more effective the air purifier will be.
The range for a CADR for tobacco smoke is between 10 and 450. For dust, it is between 10 and 400, and for pollen it is between 25 and 450. It is important to remember that CADR only measures particulate matter (smoke, dust, and pollen). It does not measure gasses, which include VOCs.
The most common problem that consumers run into when trying to select an air purifier is finding one that removes a broad spectrum of contaminants, in both particulate and gas form, at an affordable price. Most air purifiers that clean both particulate and gasses can easily cost $1,000+, and are generally only available online or at specialty retailers.
I recently came across a new air purifier called the Air Doctor, which is something of a breakthrough in this regard. I’ve never seen another air purifier, designed for home use, that removes as many different types of contaminants as this new product, at such an affordable price. Click here if you’d like more info on it.
Your body requires air to survive every moment of the day. Clean air is fundamental to your health. When you rid your home air of toxins and keep it clean, your body will thank you for the rest of your life.
*republished from Food Revolution with permission.