The majority of dust in the air of our home is made up of human skin flakes. These flakes are between .4 to 10 microns in size which is almost identical to the size of particles which can damage our lungs. This being the truth, it is no wonder the air within buildings is often of poorer quality than the air outside. And this is without even considering the other toxins like carpet off-gassing, cleaning solutions and a whole host of corrupting influences.
Over the last 70 years several methods of controlling the various pollutions within a building have been developed. All remove some impurities, yet none are able to totally scrub the air clean of everything. For this reason manufacturers often combine technologies to ensure the greatest amount of air purification.
Promolife offers several types of air purifiers. Not every method is listed below, only the most common. Often companies will improve upon a method, then rename the improvement while patenting it.
Prefilters remove larger particles from the air. Austin Air and NQ Clarifier brands all use prefilters with HEPA. The use of a prefilter ensures that the HEPA filter will not become overburdened, which ultimately will extend the HEPA’s life.
The HEPA filter is the king of all air filters. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particle Arrestor. Developed during World War II under the Manhattan Project, the HEPA filter was used to remove radioactive dust from inside government laboratories. They are effective at trapping up to 99.99% of all particles which pass through it. HEPA filters are required to be able to trap any particle .3 microns or larger. This takes care of just about everything but viruses, gases and smoke which are smaller than .3 microns. For this reason many companies combine a HEPA filter with a technology which will destroy these smaller particles.
The HEPA filter is made from paper-like glass fibers which are pleated into a V-shaped grill. Corrugated aluminum separates each glass fiber sheet. The HEPA filter uses a fan to cycle air through it. Living particles like molds and bacteria will become trapped in the filter, but will not be killed outright. They are only killed once they dry out. In general this can happen quickly for the fan itself will help dry them out. In areas of high humidity this process can take longer as the moisture in the air will prolong the life of the microbes. The HEPA filter is considered the best air filter on the market. More medical doctors recommend them over any other air filter. After the 911 attacks FEMA chose the Austin Air cleaner to help the victims with the dust created by the buildings' destruction.
UV – Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just beyond the visible color violet. It is this wavelength that produces the sunburn we suffer on a sunny day. Within an air purifying system ultraviolet light has the ability to destroy all forms of microbes. As these organisms pass by the lamp's ultraviolet rays literally burn them which results in their deaths.
Ozone has the ability to oxidize gases, microbes, molds, odors and a whole host of other pollutants. It has the reputation for being a harmful substances because nitric oxide can be created when ozone is made. Nitric oxide is a known respiratory irritant, however when used properly ozone is both safe and leaves the home with a refreshing odor, similar to a waterfall or lightning storm. Which incidentally are two of nature’s methods for creating ozone.
Ozone air purifiers are some of the most popular units we have.
Ionic air cleaners also go by the name electrostatic purifiers. Originally they were created to charge the air with negative ions, to balance the positive charge our home’s electrical appliances produce. Eventually it was discovered that ions attach themselves to air particles causing them to form heavy clumps which fall to the floor. Ionic air cleaners consist of a protruding set of needles called an emitter. Electricity travels up these needles and release negative ions into the air. Because ions have a short life cycle they are able to only travel into a room about 5 to 7 feet. Because of this the ionic cleaner has a limited ability to purify the air. The next generation of ionic purifiers show more promise in this area. They use a special radio frequency to ionize to a distance of 50 feet and are even effective through walls. However, this technology isn’t quite ready for every day use.
Photo-Catalytic technology draws on ultraviolet light to provide the muscle of its technology. Like ultraviolet it has the ability to destroy microbes and other substances. Photo-Catalytic is quicker and more effective than ultraviolet light because titanium dioxide is used as a catalyst to divide surrounding water molecules into hydroxyl radicals and superoxide ions. The hydroxyl radical molecule is a powerful oxidizer, stronger than ozone or chlorine, yet safer. One of the added benefits of Photo-Catalytic technology is their low maintenance of having no filters to change or plates to clean.
Activated carbon goes through a process of being treated with oxygen which opens up millions of pores within it. The result is that it becomes a super adsorbent substance. It has the ability to adsorb gases, chemicals, odors and all forms of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
How To Decide Which Air Purifier To Use
There are several things to consider when choosing the best air purifier for your situation. Here are some of the major details one should think about:
- How much energy will the air purifier consume,
- How much area do you need to purify,
- What kind of contaminants are in the area to be cleaned,
- Do you need a medical grade purifier,
- How long will the replaceable components last,
- How easy is it to change the replaceable components,
- How expensive are the replaceable components,
- What other maintenance needs will the unit require.