To get your indoor air cleaner and purer, you can use a combination of somewhat passive methods and more active means. Filters in various areas of your home or in machines can trap pollutants as air is circulated. More modern machines take a more active approach by attracting air particles to them where they are eliminated or trapped in a filter.
The best method to achieve good air quality indoors is decidedly low-tech: open the doors and windows to your home whenever you can to get a strong breeze blowing through. Ventilation is the key to good indoor air quality, but modern homes are not designed to facilitate it and weather conditions can prevent it during long stretches of the year. In that case, you might need to turn to modern technology purify your air.
The Five Most Common Methods of Air Purification
Here is a brief explanation of air purification methods that you can use in your home to rid it of dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, molds, bacteria and gases:
The first line of defense against bad air in your home is filters, usually placed in portable units or in air ducts to operate in conjunction with your heating and cooling systems. The better the filter, the more effective it will be. You need to wash or change these filters regularly to help keep your indoor air clean and pure. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the most effective filters on the market. They are outstanding in the removal of dust, pollens, mold spores and dust mites. You will need to check to see if your heating and cooling system can accommodate HEPA filters, which are very dense. If your system cannot handle HEPA filters, look for one with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), ranked from 1 to 20 (ultra-efficient). Check the manufacturer’s recommended MERV ratings for new filters. Activated carbon filters that have molecular-sized pores are used in concert with some of the machines described below, as are HEPA filters. In short, many air purification devices seek to draw bad air into effective filters.
- Air Ionizers
These machines create negative ions that cause particles to attract together and then fall out of the air, staying away from your lungs. These machines are excellent at removing ultra-fine particles such as viruses, bacteria, cigarette smoke and chemical fumes. They also have a good reach as they work. These can be used in conjunction with a variety of filters, including HEPA filters. The downfall is that ionizers often do not collect the particles that fall out of the air.
- Ultra-Violet Lamps
These UV lamps destroy micro-organisms through intense light. They are very effective in combating bacteria and mold. They have no impact on other air pollutants such as chemical fumes, gases and smoke. UV lamps are often used near cooling coils and other heating/air systems parts that can attract condensation and grow mold. They are most effective in a small, targeted area. They can be found in a variety of air purifiers too.
- Ozone Generators
These machines attract particles to each other to create ozone molecules. They are very effective in fighting odors. However, ozone can be an irritant to eyes, nose and throat if it is present in high concentrations.
These trap particles on its surface, often using activated charcoal to clean the air. Electrostatic means are used to lure the particles to the charcoal, which has many nooks and crannies to trap molecules.