Improving Office IAQ with Commercial Air Filtration Systems

People who work every day in a shared office space are all too familiar with what awaits them when they first enter the room. They are greeted by a mix of odors from furniture fabric, the carpet, office equipment, an air-freshener attached to the AC unit, and, of course, the people themselves. All of these smells can fill the air in an enclosed environment, which is why many companies have relied on filters  to keep the air as pleasant as possible.

 

Canada study looks at the health impact of office IAQ

But are they addressing the issue properly?

According to a study conducted by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, certain airborne pollutants (which is where these smells come from) can build up to dangerous levels in offices, so much so that they can affect worker health and productivity. 

The research team studied an office for a month and found high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be generated by people simply by being in an enclosed environment.  VOC emissions associated with humans and human activity include breath and sweat, as well as clothing, cosmetics, hair products, and deodorant. 

Challenges of Indoor Air Quality in Offices

According to researcher Brandon Boor, one issue creating poor office indoor air quality comes from inadequate ventilation. If an office space isn’t well ventilated, VOCs are unable to escape outside and accumulate indoors, affecting the health and productivity of employees as a result. The study found that people and their activities inside an enclosed space had a significant impact on air quality, even if the room was ventilated. More specifically, the researchers found that compounds carried by human breath lingered in the air long after people left the room.

To monitor air quality, the team installed thousands of sensors in an office inside Purdue University’s Living Labs, along with an instrument called The Nose, which was designed to track levels of ozone (O3), carbon dioxide (CO2), aerosols, and VOCs. 

The study found that levels of compounds off-gassed by personal care products were highest in the morning, presumably when employees arrive at the office having just applied products like hairspray and deodorant. They also found that the more people there were in a room, the higher the concentration of VOCs in the air. 

The study also found that levels of VOCs were up to 20 times higher indoors than outdoors and that proper ventilation was instrumental in exhausting these pollutants outside. 

Why Addressing VOCs is Important for Office Building Occupants 

Studies have associated VOCs with health issues ranging from minor conditions like eye strain, throat irritation, and colds, to something more serious, like cancer. For offices, the most common manifestations of prolonged VOC exposure include problems with concentrating and productivity loss. Whatever the case, offices can benefit from commercial air filters that remove VOCs and other airborne pollutants from enclosed environments. 

According to Miriam Diamond, a professor in the earth sciences department at the University of Toronto, the lack of ventilation increases the risk of indoor air pollution. 

Unfortunately, poor ventilation is a common problem in many offices. 

Many offices have poor air circulation these days, with windows that can’t even be opened in an attempt to be more energy-efficient,” explains Kevin Wood, Vice President of Sales and Marketing  at Camfil USA. “Some offices and commercial premises have outdated ventilation systems that simply move unclean air from one part of the office to another. When outdoor air does enter the ventilation system, pollution from smoke, dust, and pollen will deposit on fans, coils, and ducts.”

Controlling ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ with Both High Efficiency Commercial Industrial Air Filters and Molecular Filters

“Sick building syndrome,” a condition caused by poor ventilation, is characterized by symptoms ranging from headache and stuffy nose to general discomfort. However, opening the windows to let stale indoor air out and fresh outdoor air inside can be impractical if the building is in an area with high levels of outdoor air pollution such as buildings near freeways, construction sites, or industrial zones. 

“High efficiency air filters (MERV 13/13A or higher) are designed to capture and remove a higher ratio of particles from the airstream that are harmful to human health.” says Camfil’s Kevin Wood.  “This is particularly important if higher ventilation rates are used to replace room air more frequently. VOCs are molecular in nature and are up to 10,000 times smaller than particles in the air. For that, you need to consider adding molecular filters, sometimes referred to as carbon filters, to the ventilation system. It may require retrofitting the system to install molecular filters as an integral part of the HVAC system. If that is not feasible, stand-alone air purification systems with molecular filters is a very cost effective solution.”

As today’s employees spend more time indoors than ever, it has never been more important to ensure that they’re breathing clean and safe air.

Things to Consider When Upgrading HVAC Filters or Adding Stand-Alone Air Purification Systems 

When choosing to upgrade to high efficiency air filters or add air purifiers with molecular filters,  it’s best to consult a qualified air filtration professional. High efficiency commercial air and molecular filters have operational requirements that may necessitate adjustments to your system. Avoid the temptation of installing cheap bargain filters in attempt to address the issue. . High quality filters are your solution to assist with providing cleaner indoor air and a wiser investment of your dollars.  If a product is too good to be true, it most likely is. 

For 50 years, Camfil USA has built commercial air filtration systems for commercial buildings and offices. Talk to our air filtration expert near your location today to learn more about our line of air filter solutions. 

Canada study looks at the health impact of office IAQ

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Fight Against VOCs Involves Source Reduction and Air Filtration

Utah has passed air quality guidelines to fight VOCs, easing the burden on commercial air filtration systems when improving indoor air quality. 

Many small to medium enterprises in Utah are taking steps to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) generated during the production of their products which eases the burden on their commercial air filtration systems. Measures include switching to water-based paints for auto shops and cabinet makers, using electric-powered lawn tools for gardening companies, and adding exhaust controls for coffee roasters. 

Utah’s Fight Against VOCs Involves Source Reduction and Air Filtration

Why Some Employers Are Stuffing their Offices Full of Plants

Utah’s state legislation on air quality has been instrumental in requiring local businesses to comply with air quality guidelines. Rules include the use of water-based paints by auto repair shops, reducing VOC content in consumer products (such as hairspray, insecticides, and bathroom cleaners), and limiting the burning of solid fuels like wood to certain days of the week. These solvent measures are expected to reduce VOC emissions by 10,000 pounds every single day, according to the Department of Air Quality.

 

What Are VOCs and How Do They Affect Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

 

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can be broadly defined as substances that evaporate or otherwise disperse (volatilize) molecules into the air. We typically detect them by smell as one effect VOCs have on indoor air quality is odor.  

 

Many of the everyday products found at home, in retail shops or in the office are sources of VOCs. This is especially true for many businesses. Take automotive shops, for example, which use all kinds of paints, solvents, and other chemicals. 

 

“Paint spraying facilities require a constant supply of fresh air, not just for production quality, but for safety reasons. The airflow design for paint booths seems straightforward and relatively simple, but that’s simply not the case,” explains Chad Peay, Salt Lake City Branch Manager at Camfil USA. “

 

“The sheer scale of a production line presents a challenge in maintaining airflow uniformity through the filters and avoiding a wind-tunnel effect from one paint booth to the next. Airflow can be deflected and disrupted – negatively impacting the painting process and the quality of the final product.”

 

Solvent VOCs Impact More than Just Indoor Air Quality

 

The benefits from Utah’s new air quality rules on the production of VOCs will take time to make an impact so the problem of solvents presents a current air pollution challenge Why? Because VOCs are also a primary component of ground-level ozone, which in turn, contributes to the formation of smog — a chronic problem in the Wasatch Front. 

 

The counties of Salt Lake and Davis, as well as parts of Weber, Tooele and Box Elder, produce 35 tons of VOCs a day, according to DEQ data. Solvents account for roughly half of all air pollution emissions from area sources, which include small businesses, light industrial facilities, and homes.

 

If the region fails to meet the EPA’s standards for ground-level ozone, the DEQ will have to formulate a plan to reduce ozone precursor pollutants by 15 percent over a six-year period. 

 

Industrial Air Filtration Systems Offer a Solution to VOC Indoor Pollution

 

Apart from their effects on ambient (outdoor) air quality, VOCs can also dramatically affect air quality in offices, stores, clinics, and other establishments. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to completely eliminate VOCs inside indoor commercial environments. As mentioned earlier, sources of VOCs are too commonplace. These gases are constantly being generated by everyday items, from furniture, dry cleaning, and even cosmetic products. One way to lessen the buildup of VOCs is to open the windows. However, for workplaces and buildings in polluted areas, opening the windows only replaces VOCs with outdoor air pollution. The more practical solution is to install industrial air filtration systems.

Is There a Single Solution to Remove VOCs?

 

On their own, high-efficiency particulate filters (those with ratings ranging from MERV 13/13A up to HEPA filters) cannot completely remove volatile organic compounds from the air as these filters can only target particulate matter (PM). But when paired with molecular filtration solutions, such as those with activated carbon, these air purification systems can be effective at removing both particles and VOCs. 

Activated carbon is a carbonaceous material that goes through a process that essentially creates a multitude of pores and caverns across its surface. This greatly increases the surface area to the point where if a small nugget of this material were spread out flat, it may be able to cover two full-size tennis courts. This massive surface area of pores and caverns allows the carbon material to adsorb the molecules we refer to as VOCs. 

Going Beyond Particulate and Molecular Air Filter 

Aside from using a combination of high-efficiency particulate filters and molecular filters, there are other ways to reduce VOC exposure in commercial buildings, including source control (i.e. removing products with high levels of VOCs from the house or workplace), ventilation, and using low-VOC products (most common in paints). 

Still, any protection is better than none at all. Be sure to work with a trusted air filter manufacturer specializing in both particulate and molecular air quality solutions for commercial buildings and industrial facilities. Get in touch with the air quality experts of Camfil USA to talk about how our commercial air filtration systems can help your needs.

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Mayors From Around the World Talk About Air Filters and Clean Air Solutions

In towns and cities around the world, air pollution from car exhaust, coal-burning stoves, power generation facilities, factories, and farms, continues to affect the quality of life for people living and working in or around these areas, forcing them to use air filters for protection. 

Study after study proves that air pollution poses a real and serious risk to public health, so much so that it is linked to around 6.5 million premature deaths around the world, accounting for two-thirds of all fatalities caused by environmental pollution.

This includes air pollution from outdoor sources like toxic gases and airborne particulate matter (PM) and indoor sources such as the burning of solid fuels like wood and charcoal.

“Combustion is perhaps the single biggest contributor to air pollution,” explains Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “The burning of solid and liquid fuels generates toxic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, particles, and impurities like sulfur oxides and metals.”

Not surprisingly, the problem of air pollution is especially prominent in the world’s major cities, where industrialization and a high volume of vehicle traffic combine to create smog, soot and other airborne pollutants that threaten the health and safety of the public. 

However, the good news is that some of the mayors of these cities are taking action, and for a good reason. With major cities being at the forefront in the fight against air pollution and climate change, mayors and city councils have firsthand knowledge of the crisis and the need for environmental protection. 

Mayors Believe There is Still Time to Solve Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality Crisis

Although the challenges posed by high levels of air pollution on outdoor and indoor air quality are immense, some city mayors believe it’s not too late to solve the problem.

As New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Huffington Post, “We know we have a lot more to do. It’s going to take a lot of resources. It’s going to take public education. It’s going to take community organizing. But this is the way of the future if we’re going to save our Earth.”

The growing body of literature on the damaging effects of living with dirty air has compelled city leaders like Mayor de Blasio to launch initiatives and push for legislation to bring down pollution emissions.

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio signed into law the most comprehensive update to New York City’s Air Pollution Control Code in the last four decades. The law effectively erased obsolete and ineffective provisions in the Code, and introduced new emissions standards on pollution sources with little or no regulation, despite being major contributors to poor air quality. 

These sources include:

  • Fireplaces
  • Commercial charbroilers
  • Food trucks
  • Refrigeration trucks

London Experimenting with HEPA Filtration Systems 

In London, on the other hand, the city government is accepting innovative HEPA filtration systems and passing laws penalizing air pollution emissions. 

In October 2017, London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched a £10 toxicity ‘T-Charge’ or emissions surcharge, targeting older, more polluting cars plying the city’s roads. The levy, which aims to improve air quality in the capital, mainly applies to diesel cars and trucks registered before 2006, but it also includes newer car models known to generate high levels of air pollution.

The T-Charge will apply on top of and alongside during similar operating times as the Congestion Charge, another levy aimed at drivers who enter low-emissions zones from Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. All in all, it will cost drivers around £21.50, roughly $24.00, to enter “clean” zones.

Taking its cue from the city, local tech firms are also thinking of new ways to use existing air filter technology to capture and remove airborne pollutants. 

One such company is London-based Airlabs, which teamed up with the Body Shop in 2017 to build “breathing bus stops” in strategic locations in the city. These anti-pollution bus stops are outfitted with air filtration systems that trap airborne pollutants in the immediate area, creating a bubble of clean air for people waiting for the bus.

The Netherlands Turning to Air Purifiers and a Total Ban on Cars Powered by Fossil Fuels

The Dutch, on the other hand, have taken a more drastic approach, and are taking the technology found in air purifiers to build a smog-eating air filtration tower.

In September 2015, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde unveiled the “Smog Free Tower” in Rotterdam after a successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter. Designed to improve the city’s air quality, the seven-meter tall structure captures airborne pollutants to create a pocket of clean air in its vicinity. Roosegarde’s vision of installing the tower in a park came to fruition, providing people with a respite from contaminated air. 

The machine is reportedly capable of processing 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour—enough to capture smog particles and breathe out clean air using around the same amount of electricity as a standard water boiler.

Local politicians also want to pass a complete ban on the sale of all cars powered by fossil fuels by 2025, pushing electric- and hydrogen-powered vehicles as alternatives.  The proposed law, however, would allow owners of gasoline or diesel cars to keep them. 

Why High Efficiency Air Filtration Systems Are More Important than Ever 

For people with respiratory problems, the need for high efficiency air filtration systems has never been more important. Research on air pollution has repeatedly warned us that breathing in air pollutants can increase the risk of:

  • Respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and lung cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Low immune function
  • Even obesity

According to the World Health Organization, tens of thousands of premature deaths happen each year in the United States alone due to air pollution. 

“Air quality is especially important to the most vulnerable segments of the population like expecting mothers,” said Seyffer. “These also include children, the sick, and the elderly.” 

If the problem is serious enough to force mayors in wealthy cities like London and New York to take action, one can only imagine how devastating it is in developing countries, where access to health care is limited and governments barely have enough resources to feed their citizens, much less procure systems to purify the air. 

If anything, this proves that air pollution is a universal problem that affects everyone, regardless of status, nationality, or gender. 

How to Choose an Air Purification Systems

In cities with high levels of air pollution, it’s no longer enough for the location population to seek refuge indoors. What appears to be a well-sealed home or building can still have gaps between doors and windows, not to mention cracks on walls and floors, where polluted air can enter. Our air purification systems are designed to provide the best solution for keeping indoor air quality at safe levels in your building or facility.

When choosing an air filter system, it’s important to work with a reliable maker of industrial and commercial air filtration systems. Air filtration experts at our Camfil USA locations will happily take the time to understand the layout of your building, your particular contaminant exposure, or your immediate containment needs. 

At Camfil USA, we take our responsibility of protecting buildings and facilities from air pollution seriously. Talk to our team to learn more about how to protect your buildings indoor air quality against air pollution. You may also explore our catalog to learn more about our air filtration products.

 

 

Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

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E: Lynne.Laake@camfil.com

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How Chemists Can Help Commercial Air Filter Manufacturers Fight Pollution

Learn how the expertise of chemists could be the key to helping air filter manufacturers fix the problem of air pollution with effective high efficiency air filters.

By now, it’s no secret that poor air quality caused by air pollution affects the quality of life and lifespan of human beings. It’s a problem recognized by air filter manufacturers, which, for years, have tried to develop better and more affordable air filtration systems for a wide range of applications.

But what most people don’t know is that the makeup of the atmosphere also affects how long airborne pollutants stay in the air. This lack of atmospheric knowledge is where the expertise of chemists comes in, and has the potential of being a game changer.

For instance, we already know that outdoor air pollution affects indoor air quality. 

Indoor air pollution is made of outdoor air pollutants,” explained Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials at Camfil USA. “This includes heating and traffic particles, gases that infiltrate our buildings, as well as chemical emissions from building materials, DIY products, cleaning products, air fresheners, combustion particles from heating, cooking and candles, pet allergens, electronics, and appliance off-gassing.”

The problem is that the air purification industry knows very little about how different atmospheric components affect the toxicity of particulate matter (PM) and other airborne pollutants. 

How the Largest Air Filter Manufacturers Can Take Advantage of Chemical Information

Knowing how different compounds contribute to PM toxicity levels can make a huge difference in creating policy strategies to reduce the number of deaths linked to air pollution—for example, by setting strict limits on levels of certain toxic compounds in the air, or helping the largest air filter manufacturers design systems that target a specific pollutant.

But this is far easier said than done for several reasons. 

  • Firstly, air pollution is produced by a host of sources, from residential heating and cooking to vehicle emissions and power generation. 
  • Secondly, it’s hard to track chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Scientists are only scratching the surface of how ozone and particulate matter—most of which are secondary pollutants—form in the atmosphere. Experts know that these pollutants come from artificial sources, but they are also triggered by environmental factors like heat, humidity, and wind patterns.
  • Thirdly, pollutants don’t exist in a vacuum. Ozone levels, for example, increase as reactions between nitric oxide (NO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) rise. However, even as the EU has managed to reduce emissions of NO and VOCs by at least two percent every year since the 2000s, ozone levels in the region have remained constant. 

Helping the Work Done by Air Filter Manufacturing Companies

Chemists can help air filter manufacturing companies by revealing how certain elements, pollutants, or atmospheric conditions react with one another to reduce air quality levels.

For example, carbon black, commonly known as soot, and other carbonaceous compounds can combine with carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, making it important for air filters to capture and remove both substances. Likewise, many air filtration systems are unable to capture and remove ultrafine particulate matter through mechanical filtration—chemists can provide insights on how to use filter media such as activated carbon to make high efficiency filters more efficient at capturing PM2.5, harmful particles under 2.5 microns in size.  

The Input of Chemists Goes Beyond High Efficiency Air Filters

The work that chemists can do on the air pollution front also goes beyond creating better, more efficient air filters. Chemists can also shed light on the molecular interactions between airborne pollutants and the body’s immune system, revealing which particles or gasses are most dangerous to human health. In addition, they can develop experimental models to track the interactions between airborne pollutants and skin or the fluids lining the lungs and airways. This information can be cross-referenced with other physical-chemistry experiments and existing biomedical data to understand how the body responds to poor air quality.

Chemists and Top Air Filter Manufacturers Working Together for Breathable Air

Together, atmospheric chemists and the world’s top air filter manufacturers can work together to be more active in public-health research. Aside from cutting-edge air filtration systems, this partnership can also produce advanced and affordable methods of measuring ambient air quality and the levels of specific airborne pollutants that represent the greatest danger to the public. This information is especially important in data-scarce parts of the world bearing the brunt of polluted air such as Asia, South America and Africa.

What’s Next for Commercial Air Filters?

The innovative work done by chemists and air filter makers means that commercial air filters are only going to become more advanced and efficient in the near future. For instance, there’s a lot of excitement in the industry over the potential of molecular air filtration systems and their ability to remove gaseous pollutants like ozone when used alongside high efficiency filters. Tomorrow’s air filters may also come with control panels, which indicate ambient air quality levels and information on the presence of specific pollutants. 

For more than 50 years, Camfil USA has been at the forefront of the air purifier industry, protecting homes and buildings from polluted air. To learn about the importance of protecting indoor air quality from outdoor air pollution, talk to Camfil USA. As one of the world’s top commercial air filter manufacturers, we have a wide range of commercial air filters for you to explore.

 

Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

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Exploring the Relationship Between Commercial Air Filters and the Clean Power Plan

A repeal of the Clean Power Plan, led by no less than the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) itself, could very well drive a spike in demand for commercial air filters.

In October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Clean Power Plan, a centerpiece of former President Obama’s climate change policy that sought to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants. Part of the CPP’s mandate was to create new “carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants.”

Pruitt has proposed to repeal the CPP and determine whether the regulation even belongs under the statutory authority of the agency. The move comes under President Trump’s America First Strategy, which has sent the EPA on a mission to spur the development of U.S. energy resources by removing “unnecessary regulations” that make it difficult to develop said resources in the first place. 

A critical consequence of dismantling the CPP, however, is the removal of existing carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants, undoing all the hard work done to rein in uncontrolled coal-produced pollution. A 2015 fact sheet by the EPA even shows that the Clean Power Plan would prevent over:

  • 90,000 pediatric asthma attacks 
  • 4,500 fatalities
  • 1,700 heart attacks
  • 300,000 missed school and workdays

Observers from the coal industry itself expressed concerns over the health repercussions of a resurgent coal landscape—and it’s easy to see why.

“All across the country, thousands of coal workers still suffer from respiratory diseases like black lung, caused by exposure to coal particles in the air,” said Kevin Wood, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Camfil USA. “It’s for this reason that the Clean Power Plan is shaping up to be one of the most significant battles over air pollution in recent years.”

What Does This Mean for Industrial Air Filter Manufacturers?

Higher levels of air pollution mean that commercial buildings, airports, schools, and industrial facilities will be under greater pressure to keep outside air from entering their buildings through the use of industrial air filter manufacturers.

“The primary causes of compromised indoor air quality are usually attributed to fuel combustion from cooking, heating, and lighting, as well as indoor air pollutants like fumes from cleaning products and building materials,” points out Kevin. “But outdoor air can also be a significant contributor to the problem.”

Under normal circumstances, the best way to address the risk of contaminated indoor air is to control or even eliminate the source of air pollution and ventilate the building with clean air from the outside. This ventilation technique, however, can be limited by weather conditions or high levels of pollutants in outdoor air. In this case, an air-purifying or filtration device may be installed on a building’s existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

High levels of outdoor air pollution also mean that building owners have to spend more money to seal their structures and keep their doors and windows closed. But even a “sealed” building can be susceptible to outdoor air, which can enter the structure through cracks in the walls, ceilings, and floors. 

How Do Air Filtration Systems Work?

When installed in conjunction with a building’s HVAC unit, air filtration systems will trap pollutants, allergens, and odor-causing fumes in the air, trapping hazardous contaminants and blowing out clean air back into the indoor space. Air filter/purification systems use a variety of filtration methods, which usually fall into these categories.

  • Straining – Also known as sieving, this approach uses a filter media where the gap between the individual media members, whether it’s mesh, fiber, or corrugated metal, is smaller than the particulate matter (PM) being captured. This is perhaps the most common form of filtration, found in the majority of filter designs.
  • Interception – This is a form of inertial separation where the particle makes contact with any part of the filter media due to a change in inertia. After contact, the combination of static low pressure and surface friction prevents the particle from moving. 
  • Diffusion – This filtration method happens when a particle makes contact with a highly porous media (e.g. activated carbon), it enters the material through its largest pores and makes its way into the smallest ones until it is eventually trapped. 
  • Electrostatic attraction – This filtration method uses electrostatically-charged fibers, which act like magnets to attract and trap airborne particles. 

But what about HEPA filters?

The Effectiveness of Industrial HEPA Air Filters

Industrial high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) are especially effective in enclosed spaces that need next-to-perfect air, such as clean rooms, hospitals and certain manufacturing facilities. But as always, the kind of performance you get from a HEPA filter is largely dependent on the filter itself, the company that made it, and the type of contaminants you are dealing with.

A powerful HEPA filter will have a capture rate efficiency of 99.97 percent for particles down to 0.3 microns in size. For context, contaminants from coal emissions are usually rated as PM2.5 or smaller than 2.5 microns in size—about a hundredth of the width of a single strand of hair. 

Again, not all HEPA filters are built the same way. 

  • Some HEPA air filters will have the HEPA name, but are not constructed to industry standards or individually tested according to industry protocols. This often means they’re only designed to protect a building’s contaminants from common allergens like dust, pollen, and animal dander.
  • Industrial-level HEPA filters, on the other hand, will have a minimum efficiency of 99.97% on particles 0.3 micron in size. They are typically used in laboratories, healthcare facilities, pharmaceuticals and microelectronics manufacturing facilities. In critical air quality situations, they may even be adapted into standard HVAC systems to provide purified air. 

Which Air Filter and Purifier Should You Get?

An air filter and purifier is a crucial investment for any building struggling with indoor air quality. These systems protect a building’s occupants and equipment from the effects of poor air quality, dust, and contaminants from outdoor air pollution. Naturally, choosing an air filtration system is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Installing inefficient air filters, can set you back in terms of:

  • Wasted energy
  • Additional maintenance and repair costs
  • Damaged equipment
  • Unhealthy and under-productive employees

Because of the many types of air filters on the market, most people tend to look at their choices from a price point perspective. But an effective air filtration solution is rarely the cheapest; conversely, an expensive system is not necessarily an effective one. Instead, look at the long-term expense of using your air filter. This is why it’s important to determine the life cycle cost of your filtration system to get the best efficiency and long-term ROI. 

In most cases, for commercial or institutional applications, standard inefficient air filters should be replaced with high efficiency HVAC filters. These filters are rated with a MERV which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. The higher the value, the more efficient the filter. Normally, a MERV 13 air filter addresses most concerns, but you should always consult with your local air filter expert to make sure you are not affecting the performance of your HVAC system and you are getting the best return on your air quality investment. 

Final Thoughts on Air Filters

It is important to remember that while air filters are an effective way to prevent your indoor air from being contaminated by outdoor air pollutants, they merely address the effect of air pollution, not the source. Ultimately, it will take a concerted effort by average everyday people to put greater pressure on their governments to pass tighter regulations against carbon emissions. In the case of energy generation, interventions can only take and stay in effect if the public wills it. Until that happens, people will have to live with poor outdoor air as a fact of life and take refuge indoors as much as they can. 

As one of the world’s leading air filter manufacturers, Camfil USA supports initiatives to keep air safe and breathable. To learn about industrial air filters by Camfil USA, please click here.  You may also browse our innovative air filtration solutions for power plants and energy systems.

Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

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Are Air Filters Effective Against Air Pollutants from Fertilizer?

Learn about the dangers of fertilizer on outdoor and indoor air quality and how Camfil air filters can be the solution to fixing the problem.

Industrial Air Filtration News — A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis found that a previously unrecognized source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) air pollution is actually accounting for as much as 40 percent of all NOx emissions in California. The researchers traced the source of NOx emissions to fertilizer-laden soils in the Central Valley region, a finding that highlights the importance of air filters in the state, which continues to struggle with air pollution from wildfires and traffic.

The study, published in the January issue of the journal Science Advances, saw the researchers comparing computer models with air pollution data gathered through scientific flights over the San Joaquin Valley. Both data collection methods suggested the soils were generating at least 25 percent and up to as much as 41 percent of the state’s NOx emissions due to the heavy application of nitrogen fertilizer. 

“NOx refers to a family of chemical compounds that are key to the formation of smog pollution,” said Mark Davidson, Food and Beverage Segment Manager at Camfil USA. “NOx also plays a central role in the formation of ground-level ozone, which increases the risk of asthma, heart disease and other respiratory issues.”

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that around one in eight premature deaths can be directly linked to exposure to high levels of NOx. 

Why Fertilizers Are Dangerous to Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality

The UC Davis study is just one of many reports linking the effects of fertilizer application to outdoor and indoor air quality issues. In 2015, another study found that emissions from farms outpace other sources of particulate air pollution in the United States, Europe, China, and Russia. 

Not surprisingly, the culprits for these high levels of farm-related air pollution were nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal manure, which combine in the air with industrial runoff to create the same solid particles that pose a risk to public health.

“Long-term exposure to ultrafine solid and liquid particles can cause all kinds of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions,” explained Davidson. “This is particularly true for PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, which is small enough to reach deep into the lungs and cross into the bloodstream.”

The study, however, also revealed an important silver lining: if we can reduce our production of industrial emissions, fine-particle air pollution will decline even if fertilizer use rises. But it’s important to note that this only applies to particle pollution—NOx from fertilizers can still lead to the creation of toxic ground-level ozone. 

Buildings Near Farms May Need Commercial Air Filters More

Buildings near farms may have a higher need for commercial air filters due to the high levels of ammonia produced by these facilities. Ammonia gas is especially common in heavily fertilized fields and farms, which also generate significant amounts of livestock waste. 

The ammonia, in turn, combines with airborne pollutants generated by the burning of fossil fuels in cars, power plants, and other industrial processes. The resulting byproducts are solid particles or aerosols known as PM2.5

While California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have gone to great lengths to reduce air pollution levels in urban areas, some of the state’s worst air quality issues are still affecting rural areas like the San Joaquin Valley, which is also home to many low-income families in California.

The problem of fertilizer-caused air pollution is unlikely to go away anytime soon, as the Central Valley in California, is one of the world’s most productive agricultural areas, plays a vital role in the U.S. agriculture industry. It’s where almost all of the country’s tomatoes, avocados, walnuts, and almonds among other crops are grown.

The challenge facing state officials, as pointed out by the authors of the UC Davis study, is finding ways to continue increasing food production but doing it on the limited land available and with the use of improved techniques and better forms of fertilizer management.

Better Fertilization Methods Can Ease Dependence on Industrial Air Filters

The UC Davis study’s authors also provide potential solutions for reducing NOx emission from fertilizers, which in turn, circumvent the need to turn to industrial air filters to capture these airborne pollutants.

For example, a perennial issue with fertilizer application is that the plant actually may absorb only about 50 percent of the nitrogen in crop fertilizer. The more efficient alternative is to use slow-release fertilizers, which, as the name suggests, release nutrients at a slower rate, which mimics what happens in nature, thereby making it more efficient and less polluting. 

Another solution is for California farms to observe a healthy soils program designed to return carbon to the soil. A healthy soils program not only has the effect of improving nutrient retention and absorption in crops, but it also helps offset their carbon footprint and fight climate change. 

Fortunately, California has already started addressing their agricultural problem by creating a program that encourages growers to work together and share ways to improve the efficiency of their fertilizer use, which in turn, helps the state evaluate how and where it needs to manage nitrogen in agricultural areas.

How Commercial HEPA and Molecular Air Filters Maintain Indoor Air Quality in Agriculture Buildings

Given the presence of high levels of ammonia gas, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution in and around agriculture facilities, it’s important that buildings handling agricultural processes be outfitted with commercial HEPA and molecular air filters to protect the health of staff. Industrial air filtration, along with proper ventilation, will go a long way toward reducing the level of dangerous airborne pollutants in the air by trapping airborne particles and toxic gases and bringing in fresh air from the outside. 

Commercial HEPA and molecular filters are designed to reduce levels of dangerous pollutants in the air by very small particles in the filter fibers or adsorbing gases into an adsorbent media. The HEPA filter media itself is capable of trapping up to 99.97 percent of particles below 0.3 microns. Other high efficiency filters, such as those rated MERV14/14A or ISO16890 ePM1, capture 70 percent of particles 1 micron or smaller. When paired with molecular filters this helps create an air purification process that ensures workers inside agricultural buildings are continuously supplied with clean, safe, and breathable air.

Commercial Air Filtration Systems Only Address One Side of the Fertilizer Problem

However, all that being said, air pollution is just one side of the problem associated with fertilizers. Even if you installed the world’s best commercial HEPA air filtration systems in your buildings, you still have to deal with the fact that applying too much fertilizer can cause them to wash over fields and pollute watersheds. One need only to look at the dead zone that appears each summer on the mouth of the Mississippi River caused by excess nitrogen from farms upstream.

For this reason, improved fertilizer management and application, as suggested by the UC Davis study, is so important. In the meantime, however, air filtration systems play a critical role in ensuring that agriculture workers and nearby residents are kept safe from the health risk of exposure to fertilizer-related air pollution. 

For more than 50 years, Camfil USA has been a global leader in the design and manufacturing of high-quality air filtration systems for all kinds of industrial and manufacturing facilities in North America. To learn more about our agriculture air pollution solutions and the importance of indoor air quality control in farms, talk to Camfil USA.

You may also explore our Camfil air filters to learn more about our products.

 

Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

T: 888.599.6620 

E: Lynne.Laake@camfil.com

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Banksy Mural Draws Attention to Air Pollution and Need for Air Filtration

Banksy’s latest mural brings attention to an outdoor and indoor air quality crisis in a Welsh Town, where residents and businesses are protecting themselves with air filters.

Renegade street artist Banksy is back in the spotlight, popping up in Wales with a new mural in Port Talbot that appears to be a commentary on the town’s air pollution problem. The mural, taking up two garage walls forming a right angle, shows a child playing in the snow, sticking his tongue out to catch snowflakes on one side of the wall. Peering around the corner, however, reveals that the “snowflakes” are actually ash produced by a dumpster fire. The mural highlights the struggles of Port Talbot, a small town located a few miles off the Swansea Bay, where the community relies on air filters to keep the air inside homes and buildings clean and safe to breathe.

A video posted on Banksy’s official Instagram account confirms the mural as his creation. In it, the video zooms in on the mural with the children’s song “Little Snowflake” playing in the background, and then pans up to show the nearby Tata Steel Plant, a major employer in the town that has long been criticized for polluting the air in this small Welsh town. Ironically, the garage’s owner was later found to work for the plant as a steelworker.

While the mural brings attention to a chronic problem in Port Talbot, residents have had mixed reactions over it. Some people love it, while others have tried to deface the mural with paint, prompting the town council to set up a perimeter fence to protect artwork that could end up being worth millions of dollars.

Why Banksy Chose to Bring Attention to Port Talbot’s Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality Problem

It should come as no surprise that Banksy chose to shine the spotlight on the town’s outdoor and indoor air quality problem. In the past, Banksy has used his art to bring attention to other social issues such as war, LGBT rights, and the right to privacy amid government surveillance among others.

Air pollution, which is no less dangerous to society, rightfully deserves as much thought. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than seven million premature deaths can be attributed directly to air pollution exposure, which has been known to cause lung and heart disease, diabetes, and even neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Driving Port Talbot’s Focus on Clean Air Solutions?

In May 2018, the WHO listed Port Talbot as one of the most polluted towns in the United Kingdom. While the WHO initially made the mistake of identifying Port Talbot as the most polluted town in the U.K., the organization later retracted the announcement, admitting it had referred to faulty data. Still, residents know that there’s an air pollution problem, which is why many continue to use air purifiers in their households and businesses.

As mentioned earlier, the town largely places the blame for its air quality woes on the Tata Steel Plant, whose emissions were observed to cover houses, cars, and pets in July last year, an event that may have served as the inspiration behind the mural.

Can Air Filtration Solutions Protect People Against Factory Emissions?

The fact that industrial facilities like the Tata factory produces air pollution emissions shouldn’t be surprising. Factories routinely fabricate, refine, and process all kinds of raw materials and chemicals, which in turn produces air pollution byproducts. It doesn’t help that these factories also burn fuel as a source of energy, which also creates pollution byproducts.

Combustion generates H2O, NO, NO2, CO, CO2 and particulate [matter],” said Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “Impurities such as metals, mercaptans, sulphur oxides, and other particles can be emitted. Some of the particles are large and settle out, but the majority of the particles are submicron and remain suspended in the air for long periods of time.”

Port Talbot’s Struggles with PM Support the Importance of High Efficiency Filtration Systems

Since 1996, Port Talbot has been observed to have elevated concentrations of PM10, or particulate matter no larger than 10 microns in diameter. In fact, health and environmental officials have recorded events when the daily average level of PM10 exceeded 50 µg m-3 for more than 35 days—exceeding both the EU and the UK’s air quality standards for PM10 concentrations. But while PM10 is indeed dangerous to human health, the good news is that it’s easily captured and removed by high efficiency filtration systems.

How to Choose the Best Air Purification Systems and Air Filtration Solutions

When looking for the proper air purification system or air filter solution, it helps to work with a reliable air filter manufacturer or distributor, as these companies will have the expertise to refer a solution that’s appropriate for the air quality challenges and type of pollutants that need to be removed.

At Camfil USA, we are committed to providing homes, workplaces, and other facilities with commercial air filters and air filtration solutions that clean and purify the air. Talk to our team to learn more about how to protect your indoor air quality against air pollution with a reliable Camfil USA air filter.

Lynne Laake

Camfil USA Air Filters

T: 888.599.6620

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Do “Giant” Industrial Air Filters Really Work?

Industrial Air Filtration – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 4.2 million people die each year due to exposure to air pollution. And with nine out of 10 people on the planet inhaling polluted air, there is a real risk of anyone suffering from its negative health effects.

The problem of air pollution goes back several decades and was first addressed by the signing of the Clean Air Act, which allowed the EPA to set ambient or outside air quality standards. In turn, this helped push for investments and adoption of green energy and clean technologies that generated less air pollution emissions.

But it’s also true that these solutions take time to bear fruit, which explains why efforts are being made to address air pollution in other ways, particularly in some of the world’s worst cities in terms of air pollution.

Giant Commercial Air Filters Taking the World by Storm

A number of companies have developed experimental commercial air filters to capture airborne pollutants on a massive scale. One such tower, reportedly the largest in the world to date, was unveiled in Xian, China, which has long struggled with air pollution.

Standing at 328 feet, the giant air tower purifies outside air by drawing the air into glass rooms, which are heated using solar power, creating a greenhouse effect. This process pushes the hot air up the tower and into a series of filters before being released back into the atmosphere as clean air. Since it began operating, the Xian air purifier tower has reportedly been cleaning more than 353 million cubic feet of clean air each day, dramatically improving the air quality in its immediate vicinity.

According to Cao Juniji, the project’s lead researcher, the Xian air filter tower is just the first of many more towers that are slated to be built across China. Patents filed by his team show plans of even more massive towers, with one towering at 1,640 feet—enough to purify the air for a small city.

Solving India’s Air Pollution Crisis with Custom Industrial Air Filters

Another country struggling with air pollution levels similar to those in China is India, so it should come as no surprise that certain groups in both the public and private sector have made similar efforts to build custom industrial air filters.

One such group is Kurin Systems, an India-based air purification company whose founders say they were inspired by the giant air purifier tower in Xian and plan to install their own 40-foot purification tower in New Delhi. The tower is designed to purify an astounding 1,130 cubic meters of air every day, enough to cover an area of two square miles.

Depending on the results of these towers, they may become fixtures in the world’s most polluted cities, giving everyone a reason to breathe easy.

Effect of Giant Commercial Air Filters on Indoor Air Quality

Aside from their ability to clean air for entire communities, giant air filters such as the one in Xian can also encourage people living in houses or apartments to open their windows for better ventilation. This functionality ensures that the indoor air quality in rooms isn’t affected by a buildup of contaminants from indoor sources such as cooking, cleaning, lighting, and the use of chemical cleaners and disinfectants.

Industrial Air Filter Manufacturers Are Addressing a Common Problem

Although it may seem that Xian and Delhi are two completely different cities, in terms of air quality they share a common problem with cities in the United States—smog. Industrial air filter manufacturers are all too aware of the problem, which is why their solutions are specifically designed to capture pollutants produced by combustion processes, which make up smog.  

“Combustion generates H2O, NO, NO2, CO, CO2 and particulate [matter]. Combustion can also emit hydrocarbon gases, vapors, and organic particles,” said Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “Impurities such as metals, mercaptans, sulfur oxides, and other particles can be emitted.”

Smog is a complex mixture of airborne contaminants such as particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and ozone among many others. It comes from the words smoke and fog, and was first used to describe the smelly haze that blanketed many parts of London during the industrial revolution, a period of mass production and use of coal.

Can Giant Industrial High Efficiency Air Filters Replace Home or Buiding Indoor Air Filtration?

While industrial high efficiency air filter towers hold tremendous potential as a way to produce clean air for entire communities, they don’t necessarily replace home or building indoor air filtration solutions—not yet anyway.

For homes and buildings in highly polluted areas, such as neighborhoods near freeways, factories, and airports, air purifiers and HVAC system air filters are still the most effective way to ensure indoor air quality is clean and safe. Air purifiers and industrial air filters also capture airborne pollutants from indoor sources, such as chemical fumes from paints, solvents, and furniture, and particles from cooking, heating, and lighting.

To learn more about the importance of indoor air quality control, talk to Camfil USA. You can also explore our catalog of air filtration systems to learn more about our products.

Lynne Laake

Camfil USA Air Filters

T: 888.599.6620

F: Friend  Camfil USA on Facebook

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L: Follow our LinkedIn Page

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/airpollution/en/

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Why Buses Are Being Equipped with Commercial Air Filtration Systems

Learn why eco-friendly buses equipped with commercial air filtration systems are being used as solutions to maintain good indoor air quality.

Bus Filtration News – As countries around the world continue to grapple with the problem of air pollution, which the World Health Organization (WHO) claims is responsible for 4.2 million premature deaths around the world, governments and private companies are turning to a variety of solutions to mitigate its effects. For example, we’re seeing a rise in eco-friendly buses engineered with commercial air filtration systems, some with a particle removal efficiency of 99.5 percent.

One such type of bus can be found in the United Kingdom, where the Go-Ahead Group, one of the UK’s largest bus and rail operators, has launched the Bluestar Bus, an air-filtering bus that cleans the air as it plies its daily route. The Bluestar Bus is capable of removing fine particulate matter in the atmosphere with an efficiency of up to 99.5 percent, effectively sucking up dirty air and releasing it as clean, purified air that’s safe to breathe.

Southampton has the honor of being the testing site of the Bluestar pilot program, which will run for a period of three months. The city has reportedly reached unhealthy levels of air pollution, making it the ideal environment for the Bluestar Bus. Throughout the trial period, the bus will be monitored carefully to measure how much particulate matter (PM) it can capture from the atmosphere.

If successful, the Go-Ahead Group is looking to apply the air filter technology to 4,600 more Bluestar Buses.

How Buses Affect Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality

Pollution from buses, cars, trucks, ships, and construction equipment are among the top causes or poor outdoor and indoor air quality. The combustion process, or the burning of fossil fuels, releases all kinds of airborne pollutants into the atmosphere that form smog and acid rain.

“The combustion process produces hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, nitrogen dioxides, and carbon monoxide among other airborne pollutants,” explains Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “These pollutants, both gaseous and particulates, can stay suspended in the air for indefinite periods of time creating health problems for those exposed.”

These dangers are precisely why the Clean Air Act was passed in the United States, making it possible for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set and implement emission standards to control air pollution produced by passenger cars, heavy-duty trucks, construction and farm machinery, and buses among many others.

Over the last 40 years, the agency has largely succeeded in pushing automotive companies to release cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars, trucks, SUVs, and buses. Indeed, today’s generation of automobiles has never been cleaner, with some even moving to electric vehicle technology.

Why Commercial Air Filters Are Important in the Fight Against Air Pollution

The idea behind using commercial air filters in the Bluestar Bus is simple. By attaching air filters to the bus itself, the filtration system can capture the particles produced by the bus, as well as well as other pollutants in the air while the bus travels along its daily route.

The air filters on the bus basically trap airborne particles as they pass through the filter media—usually a fibrous material with a tight mesh-like weave. In an indoor setting, when this filter media is attached to a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, it captures and sometimes even attracts particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, chemical fumes, and odor-causing contaminants as they pass through the filter.

But the problem with taking air filters to an outdoor setting like what the Go-Ahead Group is doing, is that outdoor environments have a much larger variety, not to mention higher concentrations, of airborne pollutants compared to your typical indoor space of a home or building.

It remains to be seen if this experiment will be a net positive or a publicity stunt as some observers have stated.

Common Automobile Pollutants Captured by Commercial High Efficiency Air Filtration Systems

Air pollution produced by cars, trucks, buses, ships, and aircraft that are powered by fossil fuels is split into two categories which are primary and secondary pollution.

“Primary pollution includes pollutants that can go straight into the atmosphere, while secondary pollution refers to pollution that forms as a result of chemical reactions between gases and particles,” said Seyffer. “Either way, these airborne pollutants can be captured by commercial high efficiency air filtration systems.”

When it comes to buses and other fossil fuel-powered vehicles, watch out for some of these pollutants.

  • Particulate matter (PM) – Particulate matter includes liquid droplets and solid particles small and light enough to be carried by the airstream. Diesel engines are particularly notorious for generating high levels of PM, which line tailpipes in the form of soot.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – VOCs are a cocktail of contaminants created from chemical interactions between individual compounds that can create ozone or other respiratory irritants.  Ozone, the primary component of smog, is a naturally occurring gas; at high levels it can irritate the throat and lungs, causing coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) – NOx is unique for being both a primary and secondary pollutant. It’s known to irritate the lungs and immune system, exasperating respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and asthma. NOx can also react with other airborne pollutants to form ozone and even PM.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) – Carbon monoxide is perhaps the most recognized pollutant produced by buses, cars and trucks, and for good reason. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 2,000 deaths in the United States were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Effectiveness of Commercial High Efficiency Air Filters at Capturing Vehicle Pollutants

Of course, it’s always a good idea for business owners to be proactive and install commercial high efficiency air filters in their buildings and facilities. Some air purification systems are equipped with a combination of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and activated carbon filters providing the highest level of protection against both particulate matter and gaseous pollutants.

  • True HEPA filters are designed to capture and remove particulate matter at an efficiency of 99.97 percent down to particles 0.3 micron in size , which includes fine particulate matter, or PM1 and PM2.5, commonly generated by combustion engines. It also comes from the dust generated by friction on wheels and brake systems.
  • On the other hand, activated carbon filters act like sponges, absorbing gaseous pollutants like smoke and vehicle  exhaust. Activated carbon is basically carbon heated to extremely high temperatures, which “activates” and shrinks the fiber material, turning it into a superabsorbent filter that traps gases and chemical fumes through a process called molecular filtration.

Choosing Air Purification Systems

For homes and buildings in locations with high levels of air pollution, such as areas near freeways, factories, and power generation facilities, air purification systems offer a way to keep the air in indoor spaces clean and safe to breathe. In addition, air filters protect building occupants from breathing in airborne pollutants from indoor sources, such as raw materials, chemicals, and processes like heating, lighting, and cooking. They also protect people from the transfer of contaminants produced through breathing or sneezing, such as the flu or common cold.

The sheer variety of pollution sources means that your choice of air filter for your facility or building must consider factors like the type of airborne pollutants inside and outside the facility or commercial building. Other important factors to consider are what the most common source of indoor air pollutants is and the size of the indoor spaces requiring air filtration.

Camfil USA can help you find the best commercial air filtration systems for your facility’s needs. Talk to our team to discuss which air filter is most suited for your containment requirements. You may also browse our product line on our catalog.

Lynne Laake

Camfil USA Air Filters

T: 888.599.6620

E:Lynne.Laake@camfil.com

F: Friend  Camfil USA on Facebook

T: Follow Camfil USA on Twitter

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Source:

  1. http://www.who.int/airpollution/ambient/health-impacts/en/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6608a9.htm

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Can Home Air Filters Prevent Glaucoma?

Learn how and why home air filters may hold the key to reducing the risk of glaucoma, which a recent study ties to poor outdoor and indoor air quality.

According to a recent study, people who have a genetic history of glaucoma face a greater risk of developing vision loss after exposure to small-particle air pollution known as carbon black—more commonly known as soot.

Researchers discovered that among older men who bore the genetic characteristics common in individuals who are predisposed to oxidative stress, long-term exposure to carbon black increased their risk of feeling higher pressure in their eyes—a condition known as glaucoma, which can lead to blindness if left untreated. Carbon black  is a dangerous airborne pollutant typically generated by vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels.

The findings of the study, which were published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, helped shed light on a new dimension that eye doctors may not have considered before now. According to Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem, the study’s lead author and an MD/Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard Medical School, glaucoma is often linked to risk factors such as age and genetic predisposition, for example someone else in the family having glaucoma. In recent years, however, scientists are beginning to appreciate how the environment also affects vision health.

Impact of Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality on Eye Health

Nwanaji-Enwerem explains that one area in eye health that needs more research is how the environment affects a person’s risk of developing eye diseases. As such, he and his colleagues decided to look at the effect of outdoor and indoor air quality—more specifically, his research team analyzed the health impacts of tiny carbon black  particles smaller than 2.5. microns in diameter.

While there is an established body of literature showing that these fine particles, known as PM2.5 or particulate matter that measures 2.5 microns in diameter, can induce respiratory and cardiovascular disease, not much is known about its effects on the body’s other organs.

Where Home Air Purifiers Are Beneficial

What is known, however, is that PM2.5 can enter the bloodstream, which is probably how toxic pollutants end up in the body’s different organ systems. In any case, the consensus among health and air quality experts is that particulate matter (PM) poses the greatest risk to human health, hence the importance of home air purifiers in any household.

“Below PM2.5, particles are more harmful because they are able to penetrate deeper into the lung alveoli,” explains Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for commercial air filters and 37-year ASHRAE member and active committee participant. “They cross blood vessels walls, diffuse into the blood circulation, and are able to reach and affect organ function.”

The researchers pored through data from 419 older males in Boston who had signed up for a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs aging study since the 1960s. As agreed upon, the men would come in for routine medical exams every three to five years. Part of these exams were measurements of their intraocular pressure.

For the study, Nwanaji-Enwerem’s team identified the level of air pollution the men were exposed to by using a modeling program that drew carbon black data from more than 80 monitoring stations and weather data.

Home Air Purification Systems and Oxidative Stress

Left untreated, glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness. But if caught early, the progressive loss of vision can be stopped. The key to doing this is to monitor intraocular pressure or fluid pressure inside the eye. While the researchers found no direct links between air pollution and eye pressure, when they looked at men with specific genetic qualities that made them vulnerable to oxidative stress, they found a correlation between exposure to high concentrations of air pollution and a marked increase in eye pressure. In other words, reducing exposure to pollution, whether by using home air purification systems in the home or moving to somewhere with better air quality, may help prevent glaucoma among certain vulnerable individuals.

Glaucoma is the result of high pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve—the fibers that connect the eyes to the brain and visual pathways. If the optic nerve sustains damage, it loses cells, which in turn, results in loss of vision that starts at the peripheral area and leads to total blindness as time goes on.

More Studies Need to Prove Benefits of High Efficiency Filtration Systems for Glaucoma Prevention

While these findings are interesting, they are by no means conclusive at this point. For starters, the study’s findings have to be duplicated in other locations and with different participants. Even if a link between air pollution and a higher risk of glaucoma is established, the effects may be marginal at best. Still, this doesn’t mean that high efficiency filtration systems, which excel at capturing airborne pollutants inside indoor spaces, aren’t a worthwhile investment.

Remember, by purifying the air inside homes and buildings, air purifiers can help prevent other diseases, such as asthma, heart disease and even diabetes.

Support Health and Wellness with Home Air Filtration Systems

At Camfil USA, we know that now, more than ever, people are more conscious about the importance of good indoor air quality in their homes. Our mission is to solve this problem by providing you with our commercial and home air filtration systems. Get in touch with our team to discuss the best solution for your home or building or visit our catalog for more information on our industrial and commercial air filters.

Lynne Laake

Camfil USA Air Filters

T: 888.599.6620

E:Lynne.Laake@camfil.com

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