Removing Toxins with Air Filters
by N J Howell
This is an addendum to a four-part health report on air freshener safety. Please read part one, are air fresheners safe?, for a better understanding of this and other parts of the health series on air freshener safety. Consider using natural air fresheners to keep your home smelling fresh and clean. You may also want to look into getting a good air filter for the associated health benefits. Here are some helpful things to consider before you buy.
First, An Important Caution: Most really good filtration systems tackle odors in the home but additionally will filter germs and allergens such as dust mites. However, there is an important caution I'd add before you choose an air filter if you, or someone in your home, suffers from any type of respiratory disorder. If you are thinking of buying an ionic filter, like the much-advertised Ionic Breeze, be aware that there are some cautions in using those for people with respiratory disorders. Certain settings on the Ionic Breeze air purifier should not be used so reading the manual is important. I'd also avoid purifiers that produce ozone.
Sharper Image clearly indicates this in the manual but if you are not prone to reading manuals, you might miss it so always ask the company when you call, if you feel anyone in your house might be adversely affected. I speak from unhappy experience, having purchased an Ionic Breeze for my mom, who has been diagnosed with the early stages of emphyzema. We used a setting not recommended, not knowing that there was a note about it in the manual, and it did affect her. Luckily, I immediately turned to the manual and recognized the reason.
If you are purchasing a purifier for someone with respiratory health issues, I'd avoid any that create ozone, personally. That's one reason I like Austin Air Purifiers but certainly not the only reason. Please read about them if you are in an environment that has dust mites, mold spores, chemicals or outgassing.
Some makers of air filters are so confident that their air filters will work and work well that they offer a free trial, like Oreck. Since a really good air filter can cost hundreds of dollars, ask about a free trial. Quite honestly, as expensive as the bigger air filtration systems are, a free trial would be one of the first things I'd try to find. My friend and Austin Air Dealer, Ron West, does give such a free trial so if you are in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, please feel free to call Ron and try a unit free. You'll find his contact info on the Austin Air page linked above.
Be sure the filter you choose will do the job: Measure the size of the rooms you wish to cleanse with your filter. Knowing the square footage of the areas you need to filter will help the store staff to determine the capacity your filter must have. A filter that's too small for the space it is being asked to cleanse obviously will not do as good a job and you'd be wasting money to buy a filter that is designed for much bigger spaces than the one you need to cleanse.
Respiratory Health Disclaimer: If you have a respiratory disorder like asthma or emphysema, ask your doctor about air filters and see if there are specific filters they recommend. Also important if you have severe allergies, to find air filters that are advertised specifically for allergen control.