IAQ: Air Filtration vs. Air Purification

“What is the difference between air filtration and air purification?”

People often don’t ask this question because they think there is no difference. Well, filtration was actually the method of choice for many years. Some companies have built their business trying to perfect the process of removing smaller and smaller particulates. As a result we now have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filters. HEPA filters, by definition, remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micrometers (µm) in diameter.  (These are great for your vacuum cleaner and I highly recommend that you have a vacuum cleaner equipped with one of these filters.)

There are many ways of filtering the air in your home or business and some work better than others. There are stand-alone units, units that are installed on your HVAC system, there is the filter on your HVAC system itself, there are electronic precipitators and electronic air cleaners. They all basically work the same way – they attempt to bring the dirty air to the filter.

The Problem

Unfortunately,  filters can only clean the air that is brought to and moved through them. Some filters even attempt to do this without a fan even although any HVAC engineer will tell you that even the best-designed laminar air flow unit (such as those used in hospital surgical suites and burn units) costing hundreds of thousands of dollars still will only filter 75-80% of the air in a room at best.

The smallest particles, the ones targeted by HEPA filters and which are the biggest problem for our lungs, are virtually unaffected by our attempts to move them anywhere. Even the HVAC system equipped with a HEPA filter won’t do the job because only a relatively small percentage of the air in your home ever gets to the filter. In fact, many HVAC contractors tell us that only 26-28% of the air actually gets to the filter.

The filter on your HVAC equipment was not intended nor designed to clean the air in your home. It was designed to keep the inside of your furnace and ductwork clean. Most of us know they don’t even do a very good job of that.

And all of these only address the issue of particulates. What about odors, chemical gases, and biological contaminants? Indoor air quality (IAQ) issues are concerned with all of these so why not use a system that addresses all of these issues?
An air purification system addresses all of these IAQ issues. And it does not rely on moving the dirty air to the equipment, it sends the solution to the pollution.

The Clean Air Solution

Some of the best air purification systems in the industry use a process called radiant catalytic ionization (RCI). Its predecessor, photohydroionization (PHI) was developed for NASA for use in the space shuttles and space station. RCI improves upon the PHI process by increasing the size of the target cell matrix which produces the purifying plasma, and by increasing its efficiency.

It combines a specific high intensity UV light (UVX) with a specially developed rare metal hydrophilic coating on an engineered honeycomb matrix to create super oxide ions and hydro-peroxides which have powerful anti-microbial properties.

The purifying plasma has two main jobs: clean the air of odors and chemical gases, and kill microbiological organisms, especially those that can make us sick.

One of the main products in the purifying plasma, hydro-peroxide is essentially a microscopic vapor of hydrogen peroxide. Composed of only oxygen and water, it is nevertheless not only extremely effective at killing mold, bacteria and viruses, it does this without harmful chemicals. After it has done its job, it reverts to oxygen and water vapor. There are no chemical residues left behind.

Studies performed at Kansas State University (KSU) demonstrated that this purifying plasma can kill up to 99.99% of bacteria, viruses and mold on surfaces in only 24 hours. They also tested the RCI technology against the avian (bird) flu virus and it killed 99.99% in 12 hours on surfaces.

Another process used by these state-of-the-science air purification systems is pulsed needlepoint ionization. It is designed to remove the small airborne particulates that are a problem in indoor air pollution. These particles are so light they do not settle out but stay airborne, riding the convection air currents in your home and office.

The ionizer causes these particles to become charged, or ionized, some with a negative charge, some with a positive charge. Like tiny magnets they are attracted to the opposite charge causing them to clump together and fall to the floor. Getting them out of the air so we are no longer breathing them is only the first step. Now they must also be cleaned up so they don’t become airborne again.

Next Steps to Keeping Indoor Air Clean

These particulates settle out and are deposited primarily on horizontal surfaces such as tables, counter tops, and on the floor. Damp dusting will help to pick up and contain these particles that has settled on hard surfaces. But what about carpeting and upholstered furniture?

This is where your HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner is important. A regular vacuum cleaner would simply throw the microscopic dust particles back up into the air where they would again become a problem. The HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner prevents this from happening, effectively removing these problematic particulates.

Be careful, not all vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are equally effective at trapping these small particulates. Be sure to purchase one that has a sealed pathway to the filter and prevents particulate-laden air from leaking out prior to going through the filter or leaking around the filter. Don’ t just buy a vacuum cleaner because it says it has a HEPA filter. Ask questions. Has the effectiveness been tested by an independent laboratory? Do your homework before making your selection.

The RCI-type air purification systems mentioned above are available through Healthy Living Technology: www.healthylivingtech.com/store or email me at: info@healthylivingtech.com for more information.

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