Chemicals in Indoor Air are a Real Problem. Air Purifiers are a Real Help.
The trick with indoor air is that it tends to be far more polluted then outdoor air in the same area. This is only exacerbated by the fact that we live with a large number of chemicals, some of which are a temporary problem, while others are more pervasive. Common offenders? New paint or stain, new furniture or freshly dry-cleaned clothing, as well as household cleaners. Even your printer, particularly laser printers, can pollute your indoor air.
Fortunately, air purifiers, and especially those with activated carbon provide a real solution by not only trapping particulates, but also absorbing gasses and odors. Check out some of the air purifiers we recommend for chemical concerns or keep reading to learn more about where you might be exposed to chemicals and what you can do about it.
|Levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels||
Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors
American Lung Association has found that 87 percent of homeowners nationwide are not conscious of indoor air pollutants
Poor indoor environments costs the U.S. economy as much as $168 billion/year
Where does Chemical Exposure Occur?
According to a survey from the American Lung Association, the air inside your home could be more dangerous to your health than the air outside. Biological contaminants, including molds, bacteria, pollen, dust mites and animal dander promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school. In office buildings, heating, cooling and ventilation systems that are not properly maintained are frequent sources of biological substances that are inhaled, leading to breathing problems.
Additionally, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature and appear in many common household products. They may or may not emit an odor, but can have a negative effect on your health regardless, especially in people with respiratory problems such as asthma, young children, elderly, and those with heightened chemical sensitivity. There are thousands of different VOCs produced and used in our daily lives.
Some common sources of VOCs include:
Common heath effects of chemical exposure may include:
How Air Purifiers Remove Chemicals
Lots of Activated Carbon
Effective Chemical air purifiers all have one thing in common: Lots of Activated Carbon. Activated carbon comes from charcoal which has been "activated" through a special heat treatment process. The heat treatment process dries the carbon out, and fills it with microscopic cracks. These tiny cracks are where gasses and chemicals get trapped when they come in contact with the carbon.
Activated carbon is safe, harmless and effective
Activated carbon is commonly used in water filters, from household brands like Brita or Pur. It is also used by emergency medical teams when pumping the stomach of someone that has ingested something harmful.
The more the better
The more activated carbon an air purifier has, the more chemicals it will absorb and the longer the filter will last. Many lower priced brands sell charcoal pre-filters, but these pre-filters simply do not have enough carbon/charcoal to be very effective or last very long. The charcoal in these pre-filters often adds up to less than 1/5 of a pound, whereas a large, heavy-duty chemical air purifier will have as much as 25 lbs of carbon. That's 125 times more chemical removal and filter life.
Units for every Chemical
When it comes to picking a unit for chemicals, the process can be confusing. There are dozens of drum models that look identical, but they all have small differences in the blends of carbon that they include. These blends make the unit more targeted for certain types of chemicals.
Chemical Unit Buying Guide
Take a look at our table of Chemical Air Purifiers to help sort out which model might be best for your needs.
For general/non-specific chemical concerns:
To See Our Whole List of Chemical Air Purifiers:Browse All Air Purifiers for Chemicals
Fast Fact Sources
The EPA has reported levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher — and occasionally more than 100 times higher — than outdoor levels.
- A 1997 joint study between the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated total costs to the U.S. economy range as high as $168 billion/year. (Fisk, William J. and Rosenfeld, Arthur H.; "Estimates of Improved Productivity and Health From Better Indoor Environments", Lawrence Berkeley National Lab & U.S. Dept. of Energy: Berkeley, CA, 1997; ISSN 095-6947) The report attributed $6 to 19 billion from increased respiratory disease, $1 to 4 billion from increased allergies and asthma, $5 to 10 billion from sick building syndrome, and a potentially huge amount, $12 to 125 billion, from reduced productivity.
- The American Lung Association has found that 87 percent of homeowners nationwide are not conscious of indoor air pollutants. Biological contaminants, including molds, bacteria, pollen, dust mites and animal dander promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school, according to the American Lung Association.
- In office buildings, heating, cooling and ventilation systems that are not properly maintained are frequent sources of biological substances that are inhaled, leading to breathing problems.
- Other pollutants include radon, secondhand smoke, formaldehyde, asbestos and nitrogen dioxide.