Health Reasons Why Your Home Needs a HEPA System Air Filter
If you’re particularly concerned about the air quality in your home, consider replacing your aging air filter with a HEPA System Air Filter.
An Air Filter is a device that removes airborne particles that if inhaled, are harmful to humans. Examples of airborne particles include dust, pollen, fungal spores, pet dander etc. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Air Filter removes almost all air pollutants. The Lennox Healthy Climate HEPA System Air Filter is an example of a HEPA System Air Filter that removes up to 99.97% of pollutants.
Particulate matter, also known as PM, refers to a range of particles found in the air that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter (the average size of a human hair is 60 microns).
Particulate matter can be liquid, solid or a mixture of both. Anything that’s 2.5 microns in size or less is small enough to be carried by air and humans run the risk of breathing it into their lungs. You can’t see particulate matter – it can only be seen using a microscope.
The most common sources of indoor particulate matter are:
- Fungal spores
- Endotoxin – a toxin found in bacteria
- Tiny solid or liquid particles in aerosols
- Carbon, also known as soot, produced when something is burned
Another example of particulate matter is mold. It refers to a range of fungus that grows on damp building materials or food. Sometimes molds can be observed in a variety of colors; in some cases, they can’t be seen, you’re only aware of it because of their musty odor. Having mold present in the home contributes to poor air quality.
Mold grows wherever there’s moisture. This moisture could be a result of water leaks, flooding, or high humidity from everyday activities like showering or cooking.
Adverse Health Effects of Mold
A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) showed that there was sufficient evidence linking indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms– wheezing and coughing in healthy people.
The IOM study also showed a correlation between indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in healthy children.
Adverse Health Effects of Particulate Matter
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breathing in matter that is larger than particulate matter, also known as coarse particles, can result in eye, nose and throat irritation. The CDC stated that breathing in particulate matter is more dangerous as it can get inside the deep parts of your lungs or even make its way into your blood.
While particulate matter can affect everyone, it can bother some people more than others. According to CDC, people with heart or lung diseases, older adults, babies and children will most likely experience health effects after exposure to particulate matter.
The CDC stated that particulate matter can worsen asthma symptoms. This pollution also has also been linked to the following health effects:
- Eye irritation
- Lung and throat irritation
- Trouble breathing
- Lung cancer
- Problems with babies at birth (for example, low birth weight)
According to CDC, if you have a pre-existing heart disease, breathing in particulate matter can cause serious problems (such as a heart attack) with symptoms including:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Fast heartbeat
- Feeling out of breath
- Being more tired than usual
How to Reduce Exposure to Particulate Matter in Your Home
One of the ways to reduce exposure to particulate matter in your home is by using theLennox Healthy Climate HEPA System Air Filter. This particular air filter can be used independently or installed in forced air systems. Your indoor air goes through a 3-stage filtration process in the Healthy Climate HEPA System Air Filter, detailed as follows:
1stStage: Pre-Filter Stage
This filtration stage removes larger air pollutants like dust, pollen and pet dander.
2ndStage: HEPA Stage
This filtration stage removes up to 99.97% of particulates 0.3 micron and smaller.
3rdStage: Carbon Stage
This last filtration stage removes chemicals and odors from the air. The clean air is then released from your air filtration device and into the air you breathe.
The Lennox Healthy Climate HEPA System Air Filter should be used along with the steps below to reduce exposure to particulate matter in your home:
- Regular House Cleaning
Molds thrive in damp environments. Particulate matter like molds can be reduced by eliminating damp areas using a mop and other cleaning materials.
- Avoid smoking indoors and using candles and incense in your home. A study conducted by Health Canada in different Canadian cities showed that the average indoor particulate matter concentrations were less than 15 µg/m3 in homes without smokers, and less than 35 µg/m3 in homes with smokers.
- Move dusty work outside, for example, woodworking using power tools.
- Ensure your furnace is working properly and follow the manufacturer’s directions for maintenance.
- Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and in bathrooms. Make sure that these fans are properly installed and maintained.
“Everyone is exposed to air pollution. Air pollution, even at low levels, has an impact on human health,” the Government of Canadasaid. “Science has clearly shown that air pollution leads to disease, increased hospitalizations, and even premature death.”
Air pollution, the Government of Canada said, can be linked to nearly 14,400 premature deaths per year in Canada.
“As people spend a considerable amount of time indoors, either at work or at home, indoor air quality plays a significant part in their general state of health,” the World Health Organization (WHO)said. “This is particularly true for children, elderly people and other vulnerable groups.”
Best Air Purifier for Unwanted Pet Odor, Hair and Dander
Sharing your home with your furry family members – cats, dogs and other furry animals – doesn’t mean that you’ve to endure their unpleasant odor, hair and dander.
An air purifier will help filter out pet odor, hair and dander, giving you and your family – including your furry family members – clean and fresh air.
Consider the following facts:
According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), approximately 41% of Canadian households have at least one dog, while 37% have at least one cat.
“Over the last ten years cat and dog has increased by about 10%,” said Colleen McElwain, CAHI Programs Director. “Overall approximately 41% of Canadian households include at least one dog, and similarly around 37% include at least one cat.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), owning a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, feelings of loneliness. They can also increase your opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and opportunities for socialization.
The 2016 survey of pet owners conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) showed:
- 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership
- 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership
- 54% of pet owners reported physical health improvements from pet ownership
- 55% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s physical health has improved from pet ownership
- 83% of baby boomers and 82% of greatest/silent generations reported more personal experience with mental health improvements from pets than millennials (62%) and generation X (72%)
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PDF), in 2009-10, more than 2.4 million or 8.4% Canadians aged 12 years and over were living with asthma – a chronic condition characterized by shortness of breath, cough, wheezing and chest tightness.
Furry or feathered pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters – as a group was named by the Public Health Agency of Canada as the number 9 common trigger of asthma symptoms in Canada.
Furred or feathered animals on their own don’t trigger asthma. What, in fact, trigger asthma are the dead skin cells, also known as dander, that are being shed off by our furred or feathered family members. All furred and feathered animals shed off dander.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), millions of pet owners have an allergy (allergic rhinitis) to their pets.
The proteins found in pet’s dander, AAAAI said, can cause allergic reaction. The organization said that pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens.
“Contrary to popular opinion, there are no truly ‘hypoallergenic breeds’ of dogs or cats. Allergic dander in cats and dogs is not affected by length of hair or fur, nor by the amount of shedding,” AAAAI said.
Pet allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and congestion.
Asthma and allergy many now sound confusing. Rightly so, because these two are very much related. Asthma and allergy have different symptoms and severity. The two, however, are often triggered by the same things like pet dander.
Pet odor isn’t just unpleasant, it’s also potentially dangerous. Pet waste releases ammonia into the air. According to CDC, low levels of ammonia may harm some people with asthma and other sensitive individuals.
How to Eliminate Pet Odor, Pet Hair and Pet Dander
Our pets play a vital role in our lives. They make us laugh; they make us cry. Indoor pet odor, hair and dander would have been a non-issue if we decide to prevent our pet to enter indoor. But we can’t live with that.
“Giving up a pet in order to prevent allergy symptoms isn’t always necessary,” AAAAI said.
Here are some ways to eliminate pet odor, pet hair and pet dander indoor:
- Clean the house with a vacuum cleaner to reduce hair, dander and other allergens
- Bath your pet at least once a week
- Let someone groom your pet outdoors to reduce the amount of pet dander indoor
- Keep your pet out of your bedroom since you spend about 8 hours every day in this room
- Wash your pet’s bedding regularly
- Remove carpet or upholstered furniture where allergens can accumulate or if this can’t be done, train your pet to keep off these areas
Air Filter System
The use of air filter system like the Lennox HEPA air filtration system is a big help in removing unwanted pet odor, pet hair and pet dander.
The Lennox HEPA air filtration system has 3-stage filtration process. Each filter is independent of each other and can be changed individually.
Stage 1: Pre-Filter
During the pre-filter stage, particulates – tiny pieces of liquids or solids that are in the air – are filtered. At this stage, the hairs of your pet that are released into the air are filtered. Filtration of larger particulates also prolongs the second filter called HEPA filter.
Stage 2: HEPA Filter
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. As a filtration method, the HEPA filter removes 99.97% of air pollution that trigger allergic reactions or asthma.
HEPA filter effectively removes close to 100% of air pollutants as it’s capable of removing particles as small as 0.3 microns or larger. To visualize 0.3 microns, think of a human hair. An average human hair is about 75 microns.
At this stage, pieces of dander are filtered. Nearly 75% of pet dander particles are 5 to 10 microns, while 25% are 2.5 microns or smaller.
After removing the tiniest air pollutants, the air inside the Lennox HEPA air filtration system then goes to the third filtration stage.
Stage 3: Carbon Filter
The Lennox HEPA air filtration system has a ½-inch thick carbon filter for removing harmful chemicals and odors from the air. Lennox also has an optional heavy duty granular carbon canister available for maximum removal of chemicals and odors.
At this stage, the unpleasant odor of your pet is removed. The clean air is then released from the air filtration, giving you and your family members, including your furry family members, clean and fresh air.
4 Things to Look For When Buying an Air Filter
Indoor air pollution is among the top environmental health risks, according to the World Health Organization. An air filter is one of the effective means to remove pollutants from indoor air.
When buying an air filter, make sure to look for the following features:
1. Capacity to Remove Particle Pollution from the Air
Particle pollution, also known as particulate matter, is a mixture of particles – tiny pieces – of solids or liquids found in the air.
Particles are categorized based on their sizes. PM10 are particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter and smaller. PM2.5 are particles that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. To visualize how small 10 micrometers is, think of a single strand of a human hair – the average size is about 70 micrometers in diameter.
Examples of larger particles include dust, pollen, some spores and mold fragments, some dog and cat dander, skin flakes, some dust mite body parts and cockroach body parts and droppings.
Smaller particles can come from tobacco smoke, burning candles or oil lamps, operating fireplaces, cooking – frying, broiling and sautéing. Sources of smaller particles also include bacteria, some spores and mold fragments, some cat and dog dander, some dust mite body parts and droppings. Smaller particles pose the greatest threat to human health as they can travel deep into the lungs and even into the blood.
“Fine (smaller) particles, called PM2.5, are more dangerous because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs — or even into your blood,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
According to CDC, particle pollution has been linked to eye irritation, throat and nose irritation, trouble breathing and lung cancer. The CDC added that breathing in particle pollution can cause serious health problems like a heart attack, especially in people with existing heart disease, with symptoms including chest pain or tightness, feeling out of breath, fast heartbeat and being more tired than usual.
“There are very few studies on the health effects of indoor particulate matter, but those available seem to link PM to respiratory symptoms such as wheezing and coughing, especially in children,” Health Canada said. “On the other hand, there are many studies on the effects of outdoor particulate matter on health. These studies show a wide range of respiratory and cardiovascular effects, especially in those who already suffer from a respiratory or cardiac condition.”
When buying an air filter, look for a product that can remove particle pollution. An air filter that’s specially made to remove particle pollution is the filter type called HEPA, short for high-efficiency particulate air filtration.
A HEPA filter is a screen that’s made of dense fibers. The effectivity of a HEPA filter is dependent upon these 3 aspects: 1) size of its pores or microscopic-sized openings; 2) thickness of the screen; and 3) speed of the air being forced through it.
HEPA filters trap molds, aerosols, radioactive particles, toxins, viruses, bacteria and other particle pollutants. This makes HEPA filters ideal for hospitals, pharmaceutical laboratories and similar facilities as these facilities require a germ-free and hygienic environment.
Not all HEPA filters are created equal though. When buying an air filter, ensure that the product isn’t just a HEPA filter but a “True HEPA” as well. For an air filter to be designated as a True HEPA, it must be able to trap at least 99.97% of 0.3 micron-sized of particles from 85 liters of forced air per minute in a test.
2. Capacity to Remove Chemicals and Odor from the Air
When buying an air filter, look for a product that can remove chemicals and odor. To determine if an air filter can remove gaseous pollutants like chemicals and odor, find out if the product has a carbon filter or carbon canister. A carbon filter is composed of black granules of carbon-rich materials like coal, wood or nutshells.
3. Flexible Installation
When buying an air filter look for a product that’s flexible enough to be installed or integrated into your home’s central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system or as a stand-alone air filter.
4. Quiet Operation
When buying an air filter, look for a product that’s quite enough to the point that you won’t realize that the equipment is in operation. A completely insulated air filter ensures quiet operation. This insulation also lessens the heat loss and gain.
Lennox Healthy Climate® HEPA System Air Filter
If you’re looking for an air filter that can remove large and small particle pollution, consider the Lennox Healthy Climate® HEPA System air filter. Lennox air filters are true HEPA, removing 99.97% of air pollutants. In addition to its capacity to remove particle pollution from the air, Lennox air filters can also remove chemicals and odor from the air.
Air filters from Lennox can be integrated into your home’s central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. It can also function as stand-alone home equipment. Most importantly, the Lennox air filters are virtually quiet.
3-Stage Air Filtration Process
The air that goes inside the Lennox air filter goes through a 3-stage filtration process.
Stage 1: Pre-Filter
The first stage is the pre-filter. This stage removes larger particles from the air. This stage is essential in order to prolong the life of the other filtration stage, the HEPA filter. After removing larger particles, the air then moves to the next filtration stage.
Stage 2: HEPA Filter
The second stage is the HEPA filter. This stage removes 99.97% of particulates or particles as small as 0.3 micrometers in diameter. The air which is now nearly completely free of particles then goes through the third filter stage.
Stage 3: Carbon Filter
At stage 3, the air that’s almost completely free from particles then goes through the carbon filter stage. At this stage, chemicals and odors are removed.
After passing through the 3 stages, the clean air is then pushed out of the air filter unit to become fresh air that you breathe.
Call us today to make sure that you and your family breath clean air.
Buying Home Air Filters 101
A home air filter is easily forgotten. It does its job all alone in the basement. Day by day it’s taken for granted.
Meanwhile, it gets full of tiny particles and, after a while, stops cleaning the air so well. Time for a change, if you remember. If you don’t it’s hello allergens. Not just that, but your system has to work a lot harder to keep the house warm or cool.
A good home air filter keeps pet dander, mold spores, dust and pollen from polluting your air. Changing your filter regularly is a must to keep your air safe and ensure your HVAC system works at peak efficiency.
Here are some valuable tips to help you choose the right filter for your home.
Choose the Right Size
The first thing to know is the size of your filter. Remove the existing filter to get the dimensions. Don’t skip this step. There are too many different sizes available to play it by ear.
Most residential HVAC systems use a 1-inch thick filter. But some homes use ones up to 4 inches thick because of the volume of air circulating through the home. There are adjustable filters for non-standard ventilation openings, as well.
The air filter should fit tightly in the opening. Don’t by a thinner or smaller one because it’s easier to install. Choose the thickest one that will fit.
The thicker the filter, the better. Thicker filters capture more particles and last longer. If possible, consider having an HVAC professional modify your system to accommodate a thicker filter.
Choose the Right Air Filter Rating
Size isn’t the only reason there are many filters available at your local home improvement store. Filters are rated based on how well they do at capturing particles.
The main way filters are rated is using the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV. This system was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. A higher number means more particles are filtered out.
The minimum filter rating you should use in your home is 6. Per Consumer Reports, the top performers in their tests generally have a MERV of 10, or higher.
There are other rating systems for filters, like MPR. This is 3M’s Micro-Particle Performance Rating. Filters are rated based on how well they capture airborne particles smaller than 1 micron. The highest performers have MPR’s between 1500 and 1900.
The Home Depot uses its own rating system called the Filter Performance Rating, or FPR. The scale is 1-10 – the higher the rating, the more effective the filter.
Size and rating aren’t the only criteria, though. There are many types of filters to choose from too.
Choose the Right Type
Air filters use a variety of different materials and methods to trap particles and keep them from circulating throughout your home. Below are the most common.
Inexpensive woven fiberglass filters have a single function. They block dirt and debris that could damage your furnace’s blower motor.
They do remove some pollen and mold spores but that’s not their main job. If you consistently replace them each month and air quality isn’t a concern, they’ll work just fine.
If you want a filter that works somewhat better than fiberglass and needs replacement less often, consider a pleated one. These are also inexpensive and they need to be replaced approximately every 3 months.
The pleats create a larger surface area, up to 4 times as much as fiberglass. This allows them to catch smaller particles for a longer period of time without affecting your furnace’s airflow.
An electrostatic filter has cotton or paper fibers inside that self-charge to attract small particles. These filters are a good alternative in homes with smokers or pets. They cost more than pleated filters but are still relatively affordable.
Electrostatic filters are available in disposable and permanent styles. The permanent kind can be removed, washed and reinstalled. This allows them to last for 6-8 years.
If your home has an atypical filter size, electrostatic filters can be on the expensive side, which will add up when using the disposable ones.
For folks with special situations, like allergy sufferers or those with autoimmune disorders, standard filters may not be enough.
High-efficiency filters using True HEPA technology are extremely effective at removing contaminants from your air. These filters are part of an overall air filtration system that combines a pre-filter with a HEPA filter and a charcoal filter.
The result is hospital-grade air filtration, equivalent to MERV 16, or higher. Certain systems can be easily integrated into your existing heating and cooling system.
Change Your Filter Regularly
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember to change or service your filter regularly!
The best filters can’t do their jobs right if they’re clogged with particles. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendation for how often your filter should be changed.
Keep in mind air filters work harder in the summer months, when the air conditioning is running regularly. This happens because many blower motors run at a higher speed for air conditioning than they do for heating. Change your filter more often in the summer.
Another thing to remember is if there’s remodeling or construction going on in your home, your filter needs to be changed more often, as well. Remember, a clogged air filter doesn’t only affect air quality, it makes your furnace or air conditioner run less efficiently.
Something to know about pleated filters is clogging can cause overheating. When your unit overheats, it shuts down the burner. After this happens a few times, the limit switch will fail and the furnace won’t fire up. This results in a visit from your friendly neighborhood HVAC technician. The average cost for the part and service call is $175. Ouch!
To Sum It Up
Bet you didn’t know something you take for granted is such an important part of your HVAC system.
An air filter that balances particle filtration with unrestricted airflow allows your system to run at its best while keeping your air clean and safe. Look at all your options and choose your next air filter wisely.
Questions about air filters or your HVAC system, in general? Contact us. We’d love to help!