What You Need to Know About Blocking Smoke, and Other Particulates from Your Home
Everyone knows there have been a lot of wildfires here in Southern California over the past few years. Smog and now smoke are common air quality problems for the San Gabriel Valley, and many families are worried about the health dangers that come along with breathing in these pollutants, day after day. With allergies and other respiratory conditions on the rise, you may be wondering whether it makes sense to purchase a separate air purifier for your home. Here’s the short answer: it depends.
Few Studies Show a Definitive Connection Between Air Purifiers and Long Term Health, But Here’s Why
It’s true that there is little concrete, definitive evidence linking the use of air purifiers to long-term health benefits. This is largely because it’s so difficult to attribute respiratory health to one discrete lifestyle choice outside of the decision not to smoke. Your long-term well-being is obviously influenced by many factors outside the purchase and use of one household appliance or system.
Nevertheless, there is no scientific doubt that pollution itself causes significant health problems. In fact, according to a study by the American Thoracic Society and scientists at New York University, more than 1,200 people in the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Glendale area die each year from pollution-related health problems. In light of statistics like that, we should all be focused on ways to improve our air quality, inside and out.
What Good Air Purifiers Do
In a test for the New York Times by science writer Tim Heffernan, certified HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) air purifiers in general removed up to 99.7 percent of pollutants 0.3 microns in diameter, a size that otherwise is too small to be trapped by conventional filters. However, his research into both portable units and those added into an otherwise conventional residential heating and cooling system revealed that upgrading your HVAC to include a purifier may be more cost effective for most homeowners. As portable units are usually recommended for areas only 300 square feet or smaller, the average cost and utility of a portable unit quickly becomes impractical.
Say Hello to MERV
All HVAC systems have a basic filter that traps larger particles. Don’t take our word for it: pet hair, dust and dirt are easily visible when you’re swapping the old air filter out for a new one. However, even more effective filters are available, blocking the smaller particles that the standard ones miss. Filters in general come with a MERV rating, also known as a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Filters with a rating between 7 and 13 work almost as well as a genuine HEPA-certified air filter. However, for even more extensive filtration, homeowners may choose to install a HEPA-certified central air cleaner. While extremely effective, these may also entail the installation of a more advanced air handler as well. Furthermore, many homeowners may not need the additional “bells and whistles” that accompany the most expensive models.
The bottom line? Consult your HVAC professional for tips on the most cost effective products for your home. Air purifiers do work, and their use may not only enhance your indoor comfort, but keep your family healthier as well.
Need the scoop on which air purifier is right for your home? Call the experts at Air-Tro. We’ve been keeping California comfortable for more than 40 years. (626) 357-3535