Indoor air can often prove a greater threat to asthmatics than the air they breathe outdoors.
Pollutants generated in a “sealed” indoor environment commonly build up to dangerous levels. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that levels of indoor pollutants tend to be two to five times (and in certain cases 100 times) higher than levels of outdoor pollutants. Furthermore, air conditioning and heating systems are notorious for producing abrupt changes in temperature that can very easily trigger an asthma attack.
The EPA report also concluded that “poor indoor air quality” was the fourth largest threat after “volatile organic compounds, lead dust and asbestos.”
Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) for Asthma Prevention
Although total elimination of indoor pollution is not always possible (or feasible), a great deal can be done to improve indoor air quality. For example, the use of filters and purifiers, and specially designed vacuum cleaners can produce dramatic results. For the asthma sufferer, such devices can make a world of difference.
|Device/Mechanism||Description||How it improves IAQ|
|HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters||HEPA filtration systems possess a lowest particle removal effectiveness of 99.97% for all particles of 0.3 micron diameter and higher. This size covers most pollens, mold spores, animal hair and dander, dust mites, bacteria, smoke particles and dust.||Generally accepted as an essential piece of equipment for the control and management of indoor pollutants, HEPA filters are used extensively in medical and industrial environments. They are now commonly used in residential air cleaners.|
|Air purifiers||Air purifiers are classified according to the technology they use to remove different-sized particles from the environment. They can be either mechanically or electronically operated; certain versions use a chemical process (e.g., ozonization).|
|(i) large room unit air purifiers||Equipped with powerful filters or “collecting” plates, some large units use electrostatic precipitation.||Highly effective at removing pollutants (especially smoke and dirt) from large rooms. Generally considered more effective in a single room unit than as fixed central air filters.|
|(ii) tabletop air purifiers||Equipped with small panels of dry, loosely packed, low-density fiber filters and a high velocity fan.||Although relatively inexpensive and generally a good value, caution is required when selecting tabletop purifiers. Make sure that the specifications match your requirements. (Can the device cope with very small particles noted for their ability to penetrate the lungs, thus triggering an asthma attack?)|
(Efficiency is usually measured according to the size of particle that the device can remove).
|Air filters fall into two broad categories: central filtration systems (sometimes called “induct” systems) and portable units with fan attachments. Induct system filters are installed in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (know as HVAC). Air filters can be mechanically or electronically driven, or a hybrid of both.||Asthma sufferers are often advised to choose a HEPA type filter that is capable of trapping both very large and very small sized particles.|
|Specially designed vacuum cleaners, (e.g., HEPA vacuum cleaners)||Equipped with high spec pre-filter and filter systems, these sealed and allergen-free units are capable of removing and trapping asthma-inducing pollutants that normal vacuum cleaners don’t.||These high-performance vacuum cleaners are recommended for their capacity to remove potentially dangerous allergens, such as bacteria and mold filled dust.|
Portable Air Filters or Central Filtration Systems?
Portable filters are ideal for removing pollution from a single room.
Central filtration systems are better suited to a whole building environment.