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Air Purification Methods

Diane Bacher

Air purification methods are used to improve the indoor air quality in home environments for people who have asthma or cardiopulmonary ailments, and in hospital environments, where air quality is susceptible to easily transmittable bacteria and other contagions.

Cooking, cleaning, candle and incense lighting, and fireplace fires all contribute pollutants to your home. A well-ventilated home with opportunities to let outdoor air inside alleviates most of these pollutants; however, people with cardiopulmonary disease are most susceptible and will benefit from knowing the different types of air purification methods available.

HEPA and Ionizer Methods

The most feasible air purification methods for your home rely on high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or electronic ionizers. The filters allow no more than 3 out of 10,000 particulates to escape through submicron glass fibers but should be installed with your HVAC system.

HEPA HVAC systems usually operate at 55 percent efficiency. The high fan power necessary for optimal function increases energy costs, and filters must be changed regularly. Stand-alone HEPA filter systems are available, but performance to alleviate health concerns is questionable.

Electronic ionizers purify the air by changing the ions from positive to negative. The negative ions are magnetically attracted to ambient pollutant particles that clump together and fall to the ground because of their increased mass, making the air cleaner. Electronic ionizers mimic naturally occurring outdoor air purification phenomena caused by lightning, ocean waves, waterfalls and mountain climates, all of which change the ions in the air from positive to negative. Electronic ionizers produce ozone as a byproduct and thus are probably not a good air purification method; however, rock salt candles and lamps are a purer ionizing alternative.

TiO2 lamps and UVG Systems

People go to the hospital when they are sick, and infectious agents can spread easily among weakened individuals and hospital staff. Air purification methods developed for these indoor environments are more powerful; some of these methods are now being incorporated into home air purification systems but are often not necessary.

TiO2 air purification systems have been approved by the FDA for use in hospitals to reduce airborne bacteria and fungi. The titanium-coated lamps irradiate air as it passes through a chamber. Some companies have used this technology to create special TiO2 light bulbs that can be used anywhere an incandescent bulb is used. These companies promote TiO2 lamps as an energy-efficient method for the elimination of airborne pathogens, smoke and unpleasant odors in your home. These home use claims have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA.

Best Air Purification Methods

There are several methods to purify the air in your home. Only those individuals with cardiopulmonary conditions, like asthma, really need air purification systems. There are hybrid systems, but the best way to keep your indoor air pure is through good ventilation and filtration with a HEPA filter. Stand-alone HEPA filtration systems work well also. Cost and maintenance are factors to consider with HEPA filters.

If you are just interested in having a clean indoor air environment and do not have health concerns, ventilation through open doors and windows and fans to circulate the air will suffice.

The best way to clear the air in your lungs is to breath deep during a walk after a lightning storm or while spending some time at the seashore. You might return home with a clearer mind as well.