Knightdale, NC, December 2011 – The Environmental Protection Agency’s indoor air quality report lists air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks because the air inside homes and businesses is two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. Since most people spend 90% of their time indoors, especially during winter months, Lee Hill, Vice-President of Weather Master, a local heating, cooling and air quality company, wants everyone to be aware of how to reduce the particles, pollutants, and allergens that can cause respiratory problems and aggravate allergies.
The average person breathes in about 1,120,000,000 particles every day, including dust, molds, viruses, bacteria, and dander. The smallest of these are called respirable particles because they can be inhaled and lodge in the lungs, aggravating respiratory illnesses and allergies.
The single best way to improve indoor air is to ventilate with clean air from outdoors. “But that’s not always possible, especially during the coldest months,” states Hill. “When you can’t open the windows, you have to rely on other methods of improving the air, including air purifiers and cleaners, upgraded air filters, humidity controllers, and duct cleaning.”
Air filters come in many styles and levels of effectiveness. Pleated air filters are the most popular type of air filter for home use. “They are a good balance of effectiveness and cost efficiency for the majority of homes,” explains Hill. Check the filter’s MERV rating to get an idea of the percentage of particulates trapped in the filtration material. For residential use, the MERV rating will be between one and 16, with higher numbers equating better filtration. A filter with a MERV of 11 will capture about 90% of large particles that it comes into contact with. “But remember, even the best filter will be ineffective if you don’t change it monthly,” cautions Hill.
Air purifiers take air filtration to the next level. For someone with allergies or respiratory issues, the initial cost of an air purifier is justified by the fact that it will remove about 99.98% of allergens, up to 100 times as many particles as a standard air filter.
Air cleaners, also known as air sterilizers, use ultraviolet lights inside the furnace or air handler to kill bacteria, viruses, and mold that can grow on the surfaces there. These lights eliminate the chance that this moist environment is fostering the growth of these pollutants and allergens.
Humidity levels also affect air quality. Indoor air should have 30 to 50% humidity; air that is too moist can contribute to mold, and dry air can be rough on the respiratory system. “Locally, our air can be very dry in the winter and very humid in the summer. Having a humidity gauge in your home is a good idea so you know when to humidify and when to dehumidify,” states Hill Humidifiers can be used room-by-room or installed for the whole house. Dehumidifying is often as easy as running the air conditioner.
Ducts can contain dirt, mold, and mites, among other particles. Clean ducts improve indoor air by removing these pollutants at the source, before they are recirculated. Have a professional check your ducts annually, especially if you have a fuel burning furnace or stove or a fireplace.
Air quality is an issue that affects everyone. A high-efficiency air filter is a good first line of defense against indoor air pollution. Additional steps should include air cleaners and purifiers, humidity control, and duct cleaning, especially for those homes with very young children, the elderly, or who face respiratory illness or allergies. If you are concerned with the quality of air in your home, contact a professional for an analysis of your needs.
For more information visit Weather Master at www.weathermasterhvac.com.
Weather Master Heating and Air
Weather Master Heating and Air has been serving Wake, Durham, Granville, Orange, Chatham and Johnston counties since 1977. By providing the very best in air conditioning, heating and plumbing equipment and service, Weather Master Heating and Air delivers world-class service with a small-company touch. They are committed to doing “Whatever It Takes” to deliver immediate comfort to North Carolinians.