August 6, 2020

Spending More Time Inside? How to Make the Air You Breathe Cleaner

Whether it is because of social distancing or to avoid the summer heat, you might find yourself spending more time indoors this summer. That extra time at home has made it even more important to avoid the discomfort and potential health issues, like allergy symptoms, that can arise from poor indoor air quality.

A room air cleaner can reduce allergens and make home environments more comfortable in a time when many are placing renewed emphasis on staying healthy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a portable air cleaner can also be part of your plan to stay healthy while COVID-19 remains a threat.

“When used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space,” the EPA stated. “However, by itself, a portable air cleaner is not enough to protect people from COVID-19.” When used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family.”

There is no way to determine if an air cleaner is effective at removing viruses and bacteria from the air. However, air cleaners that earn the AHAM Verifide® mark are rigorously tested for their ability to remove common household pollutants like dust, smoke and pollen. Some allergists recommend that their patients use air cleaners to reduce their allergy symptoms by removing those three pollutants and other particles, known as PM 2.5.

Dust, smoke, and pollen can trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing and asthma. PM 2.5 is a significant enough issue for those with breathing difficulties that it is tracked in air quality reports and monitored by the EPA.

Make the right choice for cleaner indoor air

It only takes a few minutes of research for consumers to find an air cleaner model that meets their needs. The AHAM Verifide® Air Cleaner Directory allows those looking for an air cleaner to find a list of models appropriate for the size of the room in which the air cleaner will be used. Each listing carries the recommended room size for that unit, along with the air cleaner’s CADR – Clean Air Delivery Rate – showing its ability to filter tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. The EPA called CADR “The most helpful parameter for understanding the effectiveness of portable air cleaner.”

Air cleaner models are assigned their CADR based on the results of rigorous testing conducted by independent laboratories. During testing, the air cleaners are exposed to specific quantities of tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. After the air cleaner is operated for a certain duration, the amount of each pollutant in the air is measured. The higher the CADR, the greater its ability to filter that specific pollutant. Air cleaners with HEPA filters are designed to remove 99.7% of airborne pollutants .3 microns and larger.

CADR is a helpful guide to finding a room air cleaner that can be part of your toolkit to fight COVID-19. When you’re shopping for an air cleaner, know the size of the room or rooms in which the air cleaner will be placed for maximum efficiency. Choosing one rated for a larger room may use unnecessary energy and generate excess noise.

Check the directory first: As a result of increased interest in air cleaners by consumers, some manufacturers are making claims about their products, including CADR ratings. The only way to know if the air cleaner is certified is to check AHAM’s directory. If an air cleaner is not in the AHAM Verifide directory, it has not been tested or certified.

Get the most out of your air cleaner

Air cleaners are easy to use, but there are a few steps you should take to ensure they’re performing at their highest level.

Place it near the center of the room: Putting the air cleaner against a wall will block the air cleaner from filtering as much air as possible.

Change the air cleaner’s filter Whether the air cleaner has a HEPA filter or an electrostatic precipitator, clean it or replace it regularly. Check your use and care manual for specific instructions.

An air cleaner is only one appliance that can help you improve your indoor air quality. Vacuums, central vacuums, and ventilation hoods all play a role in keeping the air in your home as clean as possible.

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