JULY Blog: "Air cleaners, air purifiers, HEPA scrubbers? Why so many choices? Which do I need?"

East Bay Indoor Environmental

The indoors is OUR Environment!

July Newsletter

Air cleaners, air purifiers, HEPA scrubbers? Why so many choices? Which do I need?

Hello All!

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to spend a few moments with us. East Bay Indoor Environmental is your resource for all matters of creating a healthier indoor environment. Like every month, we strive to give our readers a kernel or two of information to improve and maintain a healthy live/work space. For this month we will discuss air purifiers and cleaners. Every week there’s a sale on a new unit claiming the ability to provide cleaner air. Let’s talk about the origins of these machines, why there are so many options and a few other things to think about when making your purchase.

 

Why are there so many options?

When it comes to purchasing an air purifier, cleaner or similar device most will agree that with so many options it’s tough to know if you’re getting what you need or want. A part of the reason why there are so many options is because there is very little, if any, federal regulation regarding indoor air quality. Policing people inside of their homes would be virtually impossible. This makes competition for your dollar to improve your air quite vast. The truth is, the industry is not even looking towards a reality where regulations will ever be involved.

 

What am I hoping the machine will do?

Indoor air quality begins with controlling humidity (below 60%), keeping the space clean of visible dirt, dust, oils, etc. and allowing proper ventilation to the outdoors (windows, doors, fans). Any machine you buy only has the capacity to clean or “scrub” the air in the space. As an environmentalist trained to perform remediations, the most powerful tool we have outside of our initial assessment is a HEPA Scrubber.

 

HEPA or (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) machines like the one pictured above are used by remediators for mold, odor and bacteria clean-up. They feature high-powered variable motors allowing us to remove particulates from the indoor air. These units are 80-90% of the clean up effort. Air flows over the HEPA Pre-filter, to the main HEPA filter then gets exhausted as clean air. With the optional charcoal pre-filter, we can address damage from smoke, fire, and other odors. Again, this an industry rated product, not recommended for continuous use but the HEPA is the key. Machines like this gave life to the smaller units you see sold in stores or online for continuous use in the home.  We will look at some options later. Any unit you chose should have a HEPA filter to guarantee that air will be pulled over a filter exhausting cleaner air.

HEPA or (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) machines like the one pictured above are used by remediators for mold, odor and bacteria clean-up. They feature high-powered variable motors allowing us to remove particulates from the indoor air. These units are 80-90% of the clean up effort. Air flows over the HEPA Pre-filter, to the main HEPA filter then gets exhausted as clean air. With the optional charcoal pre-filter, we can address damage from smoke, fire, and other odors. Again, this an industry rated product, not recommended for continuous use but the HEPA is the key. Machines like this gave life to the smaller units you see sold in stores or online for continuous use in the home.  We will look at some options later. Any unit you chose should have a HEPA filter to guarantee that air will be pulled over a filter exhausting cleaner air.

I have allergies and or asthma, I have to have a unit.

Know before purchasing, these machines are not “cure-alls.” Source removal is always first and foremost regarding allergens and odors. Assess your living space. Are there things in the home or office contributing to my allergies? Noticeable weight gain or loss? HVAC systems? Houseplants? Pets? How old is the carpet? When was it last steam cleaned? Do we open the windows? Do we have a cleaning regimen? Also, specifically for our Bay Area readers, due to the wildfires over recent years, we are seeing larger amounts of ash in the air. This definitely adds to upper respiratory issues amongst reasonably healthy people. Make sure to vacuum any carpet indoors, and clean your space thoroughly before purchasing an air cleaning unit. No matter how fancy the unit is, if you do not maintain a clean and dry environment the machine will not be much help.

I’m getting ready to be a new parent, I want clean air for the baby!

To our expectant parents, first of all congratulations! As you prepare the nest for your new arrival let us try our best to remember that humans have been reproducing for millions of years. No need to re-write the playbook on the preparations. A clean and dry environment full of love is all you need. Ventilation effectiveness is key to a healthy environment. No need to lock up the windows and crank up the heaters to attempt to create a “safer area” for baby. At the microscopic level we are animal cells capable of adapting to our environment. Let the outside air in. The closer we are to the outdoor environment the less likely we will become allergic to it.

I have been exposed to mold and or lyme at another time in life and I’ve used some type of unit for a long period of time, it works for me.

To our clients and readers who battle past exposure to mold or lyme we understand how sensitive your triggers may be. Having a unit that turns over or “scrubs” your air may be very beneficial to helping you maintain a healthy environment. As always, source removal being most important, those that are “immunocomplex” or “immunocompromised” must stay on top of their living and cleaning habits. Adding an air cleaning unit can help to maintain a reduced bio-load indoors thereby allowing the therapies you are on to take hold faster.

Does UV-C work?

There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few years on the effectiveness of UV-C on mold and bacteria growth. Using UV-C lights next to an air conditioning coil is currently the best application for residential use. In that location, the light will ensure that the coil should remain clean and free of a buildup of bacteria and mold for some period of time. As the bulb weakens however, it’s ability to clean is lessened. That could mean that annual maintenance or the replacement of the bulb is mandatory. In short, the results of extended period use is inconclusive. Rule of thumb says defer towards a unit that can pull air over a HEPA and or charcoal/carbon filter and exhaust cleaner air.

Give us your Top 3 units.

The time we’ve all been waiting for. What are 3 of the better units on the market? We took these (6) six factors into consideration making out selections:

1). Cost

2). Coverage size

3). Does the unit have a true HEPA filter,  good overall strength and durability.

4). AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) certification

5). Energy-Star rating

6). Noise

In no particular order…

 

The Molekule

Screenshot 2018-07-19 at 7.39.11 PM.png

https://molekule.com/product

-Great for apartment or home

-Able to replace the air in a 600 square foot room (large living room) once an hour.

-Energy efficient and portable

-Noise level: Normal mode: 30-55 dBA (decibels)

-Starts at $799.00



The LG PuriCare

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-https://www.lg.com/us/air-care-solutions/lg-AS401WWA1

-Great for apartment or home

-Able to replace the air in a 217 square foot room once an hour

-Energy efficient and portable

-Noise level: 20-46 dBA (decibels)

-Starts at $399.00

 

The Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA and Eco Mode

Screenshot 2018-07-20 at 7.29.19 AM.png

-http://coway.com/Product/Detail?prod_disp_no=47#none

-Great for bedroom, dorm, office

-Able to replace the air in a 360 square foot room once an hour

-Energy efficient and portable

-Noise level: 24.4~53.8 dBA (decibels)

-Starts at $200.00

 

You want to position the unit where you spend the most time. For most that is the bedroom, all the units chosen have the appropriate filters and feature timers so need to worry about your energy bill. Under ideal circumstances one would install a unit in each bedroom and in the common, living, or great area. Until next month, remember the indoors is our environment! Let’s take good care of it...

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If you´re curious about your indoors, send us a question and we may select your topic for our next newsletter! Info@ebindoors.com