Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
When people think of pollution most of them think of car emissions and petrochemical plants polluting our city or town. Few think that their home may be a source of pollution but the truth is that the air may be 5 to 100 times more polluted than the air outside their home. According to the House of Representatives and the Environmental Protection Agency or E.P.A. indoor air pollution is the biggest health problem in America.
To make problems worse the average person spends over 90% of their time indoors exposed to dust mites, mold, bacteria, viruses, grease, mildew, pet dander, weeds, grasses, pollens, spores, and other allergens and irritants. You may have seen some of these contaminants when a beam of sunlight illuminates them but the visible particles only represent about one percent of the contaminants in a home. Around 40 to 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies. An estimated 20.3 million Americans suffer from asthma and even more people suffer from upper respiratory problems that are caused by pollutants such like mold, fungi, smoke, and dust.
Dust mites are insects that are closely related to spiders and ticks. Dust mites are invisible to the naked eye. They live in warm, humid areas like beds, carpet, couches, pillows, old clothing, etc. and feed on the dead skin or dander that falls off the bodies of humans and animals. In people who are sensitive to them their waste and shed skin is a major cause of allergies, second only to pollen.
Dust mites do not drink water, instead they absorb water from the humidity in the air. The higher the humidity the faster dust mites reproduce. Under perfect conditions a mite can go from from egg to adult in only one month. Mites thrive at 70 to 80% humidity and temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees. They cannot survive well at low humidity levels or very high or low temperatures.
The three most effective methods of controlling indoor air quality is to remove the source of pollution, ventilation of the affected area, and cleaning the air.
Removing the source of the allergens or pollution is the least expensive method but unfortunately not all of them can be eliminated. Items like mold should be identified and removed completely from the home.
Ventilating the area helps but leaving the windows open year round is not a viable option for most people due to climate considerations. Also leaving the windows open still allows allergens and pollution to enter the house from the outdoors.
Cleaning the air with a filtration system and controlling humidity is the best way to reduce the pollution and allergens in your house. An electronic air cleaner can capture up to 95 percent of all airborne particles including pollen, grease, bacteria, dust mites, smoke, and even some viruses. An electronic air cleaner works by electrically attracting these contaminants. First it traps the large particles in its mesh filter then the smallest contaminants are ionized or electrically charged and eliminated by metal plates. The particles that aren't burned up must be cleaned off the plates every few months. Electronic air cleaners are very efficient and only use as much electricity as a 30 watt light bulb. Electronic air cleaners can only be installed by a professional because the ductwork must be modified. It also requires high voltage electrical wiring be run to operate it. While more expensive that a mechanical air filter they are very good for people with high sensitivity to dust and other contaminants, asthma, or allergies.
To keep the air conditioning coils clean the filter removes dust and other contaminants from the air. Dirty coils cause your system to use more energy and can shorten the life of your unit. An annual air conditioning inspection will help keep your system is running efficiently and cut down on expensive repairs.
Ultra Violet lights or germicidal lamps as they are sometimes called come in both hot plasma version which has a life span of 8,000 hours and a cold plasma version which has a life span of 36,000 hours. They produce UV light in the wavelength of 253 nanometers and produce UV C which can destroy the DNA of contaminants like mold and bacteria and keep them from reproducing. UV lights are not a filtration system and as such it does not remove any particles from the air so it should always be used with an air filter.
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