Is the air in your Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home making you sick? Everyone knows polluted air is unhealthy, but few people realize its full impact. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency considers indoor air quality one of its top five environmental risks to public health. Fortunately, you can quickly remedy most air quality problems by investing in an air purifier for your home. There are many different options available, but most of them fall into three broad categories: mechanical, electronic and ultraviolet. To help you make more informed decisions, here’s what you need to know about the most popular air purifiers.

Mechanical Air Filters

The name may evoke images of complex machinery, but mechanical air cleaners are actually quite simple. This class relies on air filters that physically remove particulate matter from the air by mechanical force, hence the name. The filters are typically made from materials like fiberglass, foam or cotton. When the air from your home passes through the filter material, any particles suspended in the air become trapped. However, these filters typically don’t remove any odors, gases or chemicals in the air.

You’ll find some type of mechanical air filter in almost any HVAC system, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Standard filters are simply too porous to catch the smallest particulate matter. For greater air-scrubbing power, a HEPA filter is the gold standard among mechanical filters. To qualify as HEPA, a filter must remove at least 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. This makes them incredibly effective at removing many of the pollutants that can make indoor air potentially hazardous.

Electronic Air Cleaners

This category represents something of a catch-all, encompassing several different filtering technologies. Among the most popular of these is the air ionizer. Ionizers, also called ionic air purifiers, work by utilizing the properties of charged air molecules. They use an electrical charge to create negative ions, which are then discharged into the air. The negative ions attract particulate matter, which typically has a positive charge. Once they’ve become attached, the particles are too heavy to remain suspended in the air. They simply fall to the ground, where they can then be harmlessly swept or vacuumed at your convenience.

Another type of electronic air cleaner is the electrostatic filter. Its mechanism of action is similar to an air ionizer, but its filtration takes place within an enclosed unit. The air is ionized as it passes through the filter, giving any airborne particles an electrical charge. These particles are then passed across a pair of plates, causing them to be magnetically drawn out of the air. One of the primary advantages of this technology is that it traps particles too small for even HEPA mechanical filters. However, they also produce ozone, which can cause health complications in some people.

Ultraviolet Air Purifiers

Most people are familiar with ultraviolet light, but you may not know it does more than just make things glow. One of UV light’s most useful properties is its ability to fatally zap bacteria and other organic pathogens. Certain wavelengths of UV light are highly mutagenic, which means they rapidly cause DNA mutations in living cells. When bacteria and other pathogens are exposed to this light, these mutations disrupt their normal cellular functions and kill them.

This makes UV a great way to eliminate potentially harmful organic pollutants in the air. However, it’s important to note that UV alone won’t actually remove particulates that are suspended in the air. That’s why ultraviolet purifiers are often combined with secondary filters to provide more comprehensive air cleaning. Ultraviolet lights are especially useful if your home is prone to excessive moisture. This frequently leads to issues with mold and other fungi, which UV filters can deal with quickly and effectively.

The quality of the air in your home is more than just a matter of passing interest. If it’s not well-controlled, it can become a legitimate health hazard. For help finding the perfect air purifier for your needs, check out Melton Heating and Air Conditioning’s indoor air quality services or call today.

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