August 22, 2023

Respiratory Illnesses, Fall Allergies Put Indoor Air Quality in Focus

If indoor air quality had a season, fall might be it. With millions of children across the U.S. and Canada now back in school, multiple indoor air quality concerns are on the minds of parents, educators and others. Those include new COVID variants, fall allergies, and the spread of illnesses like colds and the flu.

While there’s no way to completely avoid illness-causing viruses and bacteria, there are ways to reduce the risk of indoor transmission. Portable room air cleaners represent the quickest, most accessible option for consumers who want to improve the indoor air quality in their home or classroom. Testing has shown that room air cleaners with HEPA filters have the ability to reduce the level of viruses, bacteria and mold in indoor air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that, when used properly, air cleaners can help reduce airborne pollutants, including viruses.

Indoor air quality gained prominence as a public health issue during the  the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have made room air cleaners an important part of their plan to reduce the chance of transmission. Almost half (46%) who responded to an AHAM survey conducted in late 2020 said they had taken steps to improve their home’s indoor air quality during the pandemic. Another 16% reported having purchased an air cleaner during the pandemic. Among those who owned a portable air cleaner, 42% reported using it more than they had prior to the pandemic.

In addition to viruses and illness, many consumers also reported being concerned about pollutants like dust, mold and pollen.

There will soon be an easy way to compare the ability of different air cleaner models to remove viruses, bacteria and mold. AHAM has developed a room air cleaner standard that measures removal of microbiological pollutants like viruses, bacteria and mold. The standard, AHAM-AC-5-2022, is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and will ultimately be added to AHAM’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which assigns numerical ratings based on an air cleaner’s tested performance in a given room size.

AHAM AC-5 was developed over 18 months by a team of public health professionals, engineers and academic researchers.

Room air cleaner use tips

  • Air cleaners should be positioned as close as possible to the center of the room to maximize airflow.
  • Change the air cleaner filter regularly, according to the model’s use and care manual.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly to remove pollutants that could potentially be put back into the air.

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