GreenYour Indoor air quality
Buy an air filter
How to buy an air filter
- Assess air cleaning requirements: First, find out what needs to be filtered out of your air—mold, formaldehyde, tobacco smoke, radon—so that you can determine the appropriate air cleaning solution.
- Educate yourself: Get the low-down on common indoor air pollutants with this Air Pollutants Guide from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Buy a simple test kit: Find out what pollutants are in your air with one of these inexpensive kits.
- Consult an IAQ pro: Get your indoor air professionally tested by a company with in-depth air testing methods. Check out the American Industrial Hygiene Association's IAQ Professionals list for someone in your area. Alternatively, if radon’s your primary concern, check out the National Radon Proficiency Program or the National Radon Safety Board.
- Choose an appropriate air filter type: There are many methods for cleaning air, some more effective than others. Check out the following resources to find out what’s available to you.
- Consumers can look into filter types—particle removers, gaseous pollutant removers, and more—with this EPA Guide to Air Cleaners.
- Businesses will want to consult this EPA IAQ Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers (page 84) for information on how best to mitigate office indoor air quality issues.
- Determine filter size: If you’ve uncovered some nastiness in your air and the only way to combat it is with a filter, measure your room to determine what size you’ll need.
- Do you want to filter all of the air in your home or office? Then you may want to consider a filter that’s attached to your air conditioner or furnace. If you’ve got a small space or require air cleaning in only one room, then look into portable options.
- Most air filters list a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which measures the square footage that can be cleaned effectively, and is often broken down by pollutant type. Generally speaking, you'll want a filter with a CADR rating that’s at least 2/3 the size of your room. So, if your room is 450 square feet, you’ll want a CADR that’s at least 300. Just remember, the CADR is calculated for rooms with ceilings up to 8 feet high—any higher and you’ll need to compensate with a higher CADR than average. If a filter doesn’t specify a CADR, you can determine it by dividing the flow rate by the filter efficiency. For example, a filter that operates at 300 cubic feet per minute with a 50 percent efficiency would have a CADR of 150.
- Look into certified air filters: Check out these certifiers to find an air filter that’s tested and sure to be efficient and effective for your needs.
- ENERGY STAR certifies portable electric room air cleaners, but only if they’re 35 percent more energy-efficient than conventional models. Any air filter bearing the ENERGY STAR logo will save $16 or more every year.
- GreenGuard is a watchdog group not affiliated with the air purifier industry. It publishes this online guide for products that have been tested and certified by the organization. Though not a vendor, GreenGuard can be a useful tool for finding an appropriate air cleaner.
- The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) certifies portable electric room air cleaners by running random sample tests for cleaning effectiveness for tobacco smoke, dust, and pollen. The group's product listings can be viewed by brand name, manufacturer, room size, and pollutant.
Find it! Air cleaning products
According to the EPA, the three basic strategies for maintaining indoor air quality are: 1) controlling pollution sources, 2) providing ventilation for your home or office, or 3) using a portable air cleaner. Exploring the first two options before buying an air cleaner can help save money from a purchase, as well as energy costs. But if you're stuck indoors with known pollutants, sometimes an air filter is the only option.
With a wireless particle sensor that operates and measures air quality, this filter for rooms up to 418 square feet is great for most larger spaces. It’s got a programmable built-in timer with clock and alarm functions, and is certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
Use this simple air quality test to check for abnormal levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, mold, bacteria, yeast, and fungus using a combination of petri dishes and tube tests. You’ll feel like a real lab tech!
Check out Viledon's large selection of filters suitable for commercial HVAC systems and more. And because they’re certified by GreenGuard, you can be sure they’re also environmentally friendly.
Buying an air cleaner helps you go green because...
- It can help to eliminate harmful pollutants, like VOCs and irritants such as dust, tobacco smoke, and mold from your home or office.
The quality of indoor air is an increasing concern as evidence suggests that air inside homes and buildings is often more polluted than outdoor air. And since people spend about 90 percent of their time inside, indoor air pollutants are now on the top five list for environmental health risks. Pollutants are routinely brought into homes or offices and have negative health and environmental effects. Paints and carpeting, for instance, can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ground-level ozone.
For those with recurring respiratory, sinus, or asthma-related problems, or those concerned about the quality of their indoor air, single-room air cleaners are one way to address these concerns. Although many filters on the market today can’t effectively remove large airborne particles, like cat dander and dust mites, they can reduce the adverse health effects of a select group of pollutants (depending on the model).
A new, specialized type of air cleaner—called ionic air cleaners—often produce ozone (O3), which is itself a pollutant and a health concern. At upper atmospheric levels, ozone exists in high concentrations (called the ozone layer) which protect the earth from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Although at ground-level, ozone is normally formed by the reaction of air (or hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the air) with sunlight, ionic air cleaners produce ozone as a byproduct. This byproduct contributes to the growing problem of ground-level ozone, which is responsible for decreased agricultural yields since it interferes with the photosynthesis of many plants and is therefore considered a pollutant. It can also irritate respiratory function, causing increased rates of asthma, chest pain, shortness of breath, and inflamed lung tissues.
- ground-level ozone: The main component of smog, ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react chemically with nitrogen oxides (NOx) when it is sunny and hot outside. Many urban areas have high levels of this summertime pollutant but rural areas can have increased ozone levels too as wind can carry ground-level ozone hundreds of miles from where it originates. Breathing ozone can cause a number of respiratory health problems plus it damages ecosystems and vegetation including crops.
- ozone layer: A gaseous layer in the stratosphere where ozone (O3) gas is at the highest concentrations in our atmosphere. It forms a protective layer over the earth by filtering out shorter wavelength ultraviolet (UV) rays (photons or UV rays) that would otherwise be harmful to most lifeforms on earth's surface.
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Organic solvents that easily evaporate into the air. VOCs are emitted by thousands of products, including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, and furnishings, and they may cause immediate and long-term health problems.
Commercial building resources
- IndoorAirSite.com - Report on Office Indoor Air Quality Assessment: The Problem with Laser Printers
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Sick Building Syndrome
- Healthy House Institute - Improving Air Quality: What Works
- GreenGuide - Healthy Foundations A wide-ranging list of environmentally- and health-friendly indoor products for your home.
- Carpet and Rug Institute - The Green Label and Green Label Plus programs
- US Environmental Protection Agency - The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home
- TreeHugger - Ask TreeHugger: Portable Air Cleaner Considerations
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners: Ozone Heath Effects and Standards