Three Types of Indoor Air Pollutants and the Remedies You Can Apply

Three Types of Indoor Air Pollutants and the Remedies You Can Apply

Few Portland homeowners realize their indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than the air outside. Three major types of indoor air pollutants are common, but fortunately remedies are readily obtainable from your HVAC contractor.

Three Indoor Air Pollutants

The micron—one-millionth of a meter—is central to measuring indoor air quality (IAQ). A human hair, for example, averages 50 to 100 microns in diameter, near the lower limit of naked-eye visibility. The three major types of pollutants all vary considerably in size:

  1. Particles—dust, pollen, gritty matter and pet dander 100 microns or smaller in diameter
  2. Microorganisms and bioaerosols—dust mites, viruses, bacteria, mold spores, fungi and any other living organisms down to around 0.01 microns
  3. Chemical vapors and odors—volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, smoke and perfumes given off my cleaning products, manufacturing solvents in upholstery and carpeting, and cooking smells

No Single Silver HVAC Bullet

The challenge with indoor air pollutants lies in the varying particle diameters. No one type of filtration will remove every pollutant from your Portland home. Some mechanical filters grab and hold large particles but are unable to stop chemicals and gases. Filters to block gases cannot also contend with larger particles. Choices of mechanical filtration are as follows:

  • High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters—these block at least 99.77 percent of particles 0.3 microns and larger
  • Electrostatic filters—electrostatic charged pollutants cling to fabric layers
  • Pleated and deep-media filters—regular furnace filters increase in mechanical efficiency when pleated, and increase filtration efficiency yet again when they are four to eight inches thick

Electronic air cleaners ionize particles so they are attracted to layers of the filter and periodic cleaning is needed to remove the indoor air pollutants.

Many Filtration Choices

Because indoor air pollutants vary widely, solutions vary widely as well. Cleaners can be portable or whole-house units built into your Portland home’s HVAC system:

  • Gas-phase air filters—using activated charcoal or activated alumina and chemicals to neutralize unwanted chemicals and odors
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI)—using high-energy light to prevent microorganisms from reproducing

For more information about improving indoor air quality, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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