or, What's really in the air in your home? Hint.... it's yucky
by Gary Servi
Air pollution is not only a factor outside, but also inside your home or office. The average home collect 40 pounds of dust a year which plays host to 15 species of mites that live in pillows, beds, carpets and stuffed furniture. Did you think house dust consisted mostly of soil? Sorry! House dust includes tracked-in and blown-in soil, pet components, carpet fibers and assorted particles. But three ingredients define it and set it apart from other types of dust. These are: human skin flakes, dust mites - which eat skin - and dust mite feces. Each human sloughs off many pounds of skin annually. Eighty percent of the particles which can be seen in a sunbeam are skin flakes. No wonder we are often allergic to house dust.
Dust mites alone send asthmatics to hospital emergency rooms more than 200,000 times a year according to researchers at the University of Virginia. Bacteria or other microorganisms that cause colds or flu, respiratory infections, eye infections and other problems are found in household heating and cooling system. Mold spores that cause allergies, sinus headaches, irritability, and fatigue are found in heating and cooling systems, damp clothing, cleaning materials, and the moisture in ceilings, walls, carpets and drapes. Formaldehyde from carpeting, upholstery, wall paneling and wood floors is released into many households and offices. Toxins such as dioxins from chlorine breakdown interactions with plastics infuse our indoor environments.
Because many so-called modern homes and offices
are airtight, there is little or no air exchange. Rather, the air is often
recirculated and the air pollution is trapped indoors. This was the part
of the source of the infamous "Legionnaires disease" spread at
a convention facility. That crisis was tracked to an infectious mold in
the hotel air conditioning system.
In the Legionnaire episode, the hazard was immediate. However, it's the constancy of exposure and long-range effect that makes indoor pollution so pandemic. In homes, cars, schools, commercial sites and workplaces, North Americans breathe less-than-ideal air all day long, year-around.
So what can you do if you live or work in an environment where you can't regularly ventilate it - either because of temperature, security or other building constraints? One high-tech solution is an indoor air purifier.
Nature treats outdoor air to a purification process that indoor air generally misses. Outdoors, the electrical discharge of lightning creates an abundance of activated oxygen - O3 (ozone) - in the air along with an abundance of negative ions. Together, the activated oxygen and negative ions both clean and purify the air naturally. Air indoors has less ozone than air outdoors because no lightning bolts, sun rays, waves or waterfalls are present to create it. So, it makes sense to replace the missing ozone. Without it, the house dust floats, gathers in balls, hides in ducts, clings to surfaces and bothers the heck out of and downright sickens some of us. We breathe it into our bodies many times each minute.
Ozone is a highly reactive molecule. Outside, ozone is one of the categories of pollutants that is tracked by the Air Pollution Control District. Interactions with other emissions at ground level form smog. At high concentrations, ozone causes health problems.
Indoors, ozone can be perform an important cleansing function at the right levels. Natural ozone levels of .02 to .05 parts per million keep outdoor air healthy and pure. That outdoor effect can be reproduced indoors with an ozone generator.
Ozone generators create ions to remove pollutants
from the air flow. The generator's antenna emits radio waves that, on striking
molecules/particles impart an electric charge to create ions. These newly-charged
ions have a magnetic-like attraction to nearby pollutants. The linkup happens
quickly, but more ions are always being made. Molecule/particle clusters
grow heavier and heavier until finally they settle to the floor. Also, ozone
is a natural disinfectant which kills bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungi.
The action of ozone generators is different than air cleaners that use filters to remove pollutants. Filters get dirty and must be replaced - and can themselves become sources of pollution.
So, if you care about healthy air, indoors, where you live and work, consider the need to purify it using the time honored techniques of mother nature.
Gary Servi works for Remedy Air, makers of the Alpine air purifier.