Why Is It So Difficult To Test The Air In My House?

The term “IAQ” or Indoor Air Quality has been used to relate to the condition of the indoor environment in which we live and work. Often times this term is used in conjunction with companies trying to sell a device or filtering system to help you improve your indoor air quality.

But what is in my indoor air that creates this “quality” problem? And, more importantly, how do I get my indoor air tested to determine the “quality” of the air I breathe?

In a number of TV commercials that promote various types of air filters they show (graphically) the types of potential airborne contaminants that may be in your air including dust mite feces, bacteria, dust particles, pollen, etc.  These specific particles are usually from less than 1 micron to 10 microns in size so they are invisible to the naked eye. We can see particles that are about 25 microns in size.

In addition to these particles there are also gaseous molecules that are released into the air from things such as household cleaning fluids, appliances, cooking odors and off-gassing from furniture and carpets. All of these particles and gaseous molecules make up the environmental “soup” that affects IAQ.

Testing  for the specific types of particles and gases in a home, office or any environment is not a simple process.  For example, to test for the types and levels of bacteria in an environment requires some special petri dishes and sampling devices. Once the samples are taken, it is then necessary to have these plates incubated at a certain temperature for a certain time and then evaluated for species and quantity by a  trained, degreed scientist.

Testing for particles in the air is even more difficult. This is where the “CSI” type of equipment is required. To ascertain the specific type of particulate requires very expensive equipment and highly trained technicians.

To determine the specific type of gas or odor requires a very expensive ( usually $25K or more) Trace Gas Analyzer and the ability to understand how to use it.

If you used the above referenced testing protocol and equipment and had to pay for the readings and report, you would probably have to spend upwards of $2,500 to $4,000. And that may be low. So, when someone says they can test the air in your house using one simple device and do it for under $200.00, you need to seriously question this process.

Rather than testing the indoor air, we suggest you do two things. First, make sure your home is properly heated and cooled and that you have no condensation on the windows or free moisture in the house. This creates mold and bacteria problems. Second, use the best available air filter technology available to ensure the capture of these small, micron sized particles.

Pure Air Systems offers the finest HEPA based, commercial grade air filtration systems on the market today. In addition, these filtration systems include carbon media for the adsorption of gases and odors. HEPA filters are the most effective means of removing and reducing the levels of harmful airborne particles. For more information on indoor air quality and the HEPA air filtration systems, go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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No Bacteria – Big Problem

Bacteria is your friend…almost 99% of them h helpful. Really? While certain bacteria exist that are malignant to the human body, there are many more bacteria that are benign.

Bacteria are an important group of living organisms. Most of them are microscopic and have a tough protective layer that encloses the bacteria.  Bacteria can be categorized as living cells unlike viruses and are found everywhere. From the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans the world is full of bacteria.

As stated earlier almost 99% of bacteria or helpful, disease is only caused by a few of them. There are a number of helpful bacteria. Some of these are:

* Certain types of bacteria live in the intestines of human beings. They help in the digestion and in destroying the harmful organisms. Intestinal bacteria also produce some vitamins required by the human body.

* Certain bacteria help break down lactose in the digestive tract.

* Saccharomyces boulardi is found to reduce risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children.

* Some bacteria present on the skin protect us from the spread of certain fungus.

* There are many types of bacteria that live inside the mouth, nose, throat and intestines of humans. These bacteria get a place to live and feed while keeping other harmful microbes from taking up residence.

*There are some friendly bacteria such as intestinal flora or micro flora which are good for human health. These healthy stomach bacteria are helpful to release many useful vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin K.

Obviously there are also some harmful bacteria such as those that act as pathogens and cause tetanus, typhoid fever, pneumonia, cholera and tuberculosis. Harmful bacteria in food cause botulism. And, there are now some strains of bacteria that are resistant most anti-biotics.

While washing hands with antiseptic soap will kill bacteria, many bacteria are airborne and require some form of highly efficient air filtration media to be removed effectively. In the hospital and medical facilities, HEPA filters are the standard media used to ensure the removal of harmful airborne bacteria and pathogens.

Pure Air Systems has been making commercial grade HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985. These certified HEPA systems are used in hospitals, clinics and medical facilities around the world and have been used by thousands of homeowners. For more information on these systems and their abilities to remove harmful bacteria please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

One should realize that while good bacteria can survive without us, we cannot survive without good bacteria.

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Cutting Electrical Costs Using ECM Motors

Everyone who owns a home knows that the costs of home ownership go well beyond just paying the mortgage, insurance and taxes. It also includes the cost of heating and cooling the home; which can be significant.

One of the major uses of electricity is the electrical motor that turns the fan in the forced air heating/cooling system found in most homes. The motors range in horsepower from 1/3 to 3/4 HP and many of them are the standard induction motors. These motors use a lot of electricity and are relatively inefficient; often running 12 to 24 hours per day especially in the hottest and coldest months of the year.

Depending upon the electrical costs in your area; usually measured in costs per kilowatt hour, your overall electrical costs to run your home may range from as low as $50.00 per month to upwards of $300.00 per month or more for larger homes. Interestingly almost 40% to 50% of these costs may come from running the heating/cooling fan motors.

Since the early 2000’s the ECM motors or Electrically Commutated Motors were introduced ( BY GE). Unlike standard induction motors that use windings and have only two to three speeds available, the ECM motors use a series of magnets to turn the motor shaft and have a speed range that runs from less than 10% to 100% of available power ….and this can be digitally controlled in 1% increments so you have a very wide range of speeds to run the motor.

Not  only does this variable speed capability allow for better air flow control for your heating/cooling fan but is also uses up to 50% less electricity than the standard induction motors running at the same horsepower.

Pure Air Systems was the first HEPA based air filtration company to introduce these motors as the main motor drive unit for the complete line of fan powered, commercial grade, certified HEPA systems.  In fact, PAS introduced the GE ECM motor drive systems in 1999, almost 3 years before these motors were introduced into the HVAC systems. Today, the ECM motors are ubiquitous in the heating/cooling and appliance industries.

Aside from their variable speed and low power consumption capabilities, they are also capable of being programed for a variety of applications. For the HEPA units these motors are capable of automatically ramping up when the pressure drop across the HEPA filter starts to increase and thus maintaining the same air volume throughout the life of the HEPA filters.

When the HEPA units are used in conjunction with a heating/cooling system also using the ECM motors, you have the best of both worlds.

For more information on the Pure Air Systems ECM driven HEPA systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems. com

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A Cure For The Common Cold

With all the advances in medical technology and treatments it is interesting that we still don’t have a cure for the common cold. We have flu shots, that when appropriately used and target the right strain of flu, will prevent individuals from getting flu symptoms and the flu itself, but no preventative treatments for the common cold.

The word “common” when used in conjunction with the word “cold” is appropriate since this virus is  associated with the common man; meaning it affects all humans the same way. It is a virus that causes upper respiratory dysfunctions along with other symptoms. The viruses associated with the common cold are the rhinovirus and coronavrius. There is no cure for the common cold.

While there may be no cure for the cold virus, it is possible to isolate yourself from people that you know have a cold. The cold viruses are extremely contagious and can easily be passed along via the air or by touching a surface area infected by a cold sufferer and then placing your hand near your mouth, eyes or nose.

Viruses, unlike bacteria, are extremely tiny. The use of general duty air filters or surgical masks are almost useless against a virus. To remove these tiny, sub-micron particles requires a filter media such as HEPA filters.

Hospitals, surgical rooms, isolation rooms, infectious disease control rooms and hospital labs all use HEPA filters to constantly clean the air in areas where patients may be subjected to any type of contagious airborne pathogen.

Because of the efficiency of HEPA filters to remove a large percentage of these airborne viruses, it is possible to keep a healthy individual from contracting the common cold virus. True, commercial grade, certified HEPA filters and HEPA filter systems have been available since 1985 from companies like Pure Air Systems.

Pure Air Systems offers a complete line of commercial grade HEPA filtration systems that are used in the residential, commercial, institutional and industrial markets. Over the years PAS has placed thousands of its HEPA systems in homes and condominiums, hospitals, schools and medical facilities around the world with great success.

In many homes where you have  individuals who normally pass the cold bug from children to adult and back to the kids again, the use of the HEPA filtration systems has shown a significant reduction in passing the cold virus through the family. In many of the pre-schools and day care centers where the HEPA systems have been used, the incidence of colds within the day care population decreased as much as 40%.

While the Pure Air Systems HEPA units are not being marketed as a cure for the common cold, the use of these systems ( when properly applied) has been proven to reduce the spread of the common cold virus.

For more information on the complete line of HEPA, Carbon and media filters offered by Pure Air Systems, please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com.

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

When The Platters released this song in the fifties  the lyrics were more about the hearts desire and flames from the heart causing smoke to get in your eyes. Today, these words are used most often when describing smoke from a cigarette getting into your eyes.

While more and more bars, restaurants, public buildings, hospitals, office buildings, schools, etc, etc, etc, no longer allow smoking of any kind, there are still thousands of places where people are subjected to cigarette and cigar smoke. Some people ( and I am included in this group) can even detect cigarette smoke when standing outside 15 to 20 feet away from a smoker.

With all of the airborne contaminants that we are subjected to, cigarette smoke ranks as one of the most difficult to deal with. It is comprised of about 100 different chemicals including nicotine, the major component of cigarettes, and one of the most addictive chemicals used legally. Which is why almost 40 million Americans still smoke.

There are a number of challenges when dealing with cigarette smoke but two of them are the most difficult. First, the small smoke particles that come off the cigarette are easily aspirated into the lungs of anyone within 5 to 10 feet of the smoker. The smoke you see coming from the cigarette is really fairly large, 20 to 100 microns in size. However, the majority of the smoke coming off the cigarette is very small and invisible to the naked eye, it is sub-micron in size (less than 1 micron) and is easily trapped in the lungs.

The second most difficult component of cigarette smoke is a substance called “cotinine” which is a component of nicotine. This material is transported by the cigarette smoke and is somewhat tacky and will adhere to any surface. This chemical has a strong odor lifetime; meaning it will continue to release an odor for days after it is released from the cigarette and attaches to a surface. It is this chemical that sticks to your clothes and carries the odor from the bar or restaurant back to your home. It really does stink.

One of the real challenges in dealing with cigarette smoke and all of its components is the removal or reduction of this smoke from the air. Ventilation and air dilution were used years ago as one way of removing some of the smoke from occupied areas, but the cost of heating and cooling all that air made the process prohibitive. Using air filters in the HVAC system removed some of the larger airborne particles but did nothing for the smoke odor.

Pure Air Systems has been installing its HEPA based air filtration systems in bars and restaurants to remove smoke and odors since 1985. Although today there are few bars that allow smoking, there are still many that do along with many of the private clubs. Using HEPA filters is necessary to remove the sub-micron particles and to remove the odor component the PAS systems include carbon to adsorb the cotinine other odor causing chemicals.

It is interesting to note, that even with the use of the PAS commercial grade HEPA and Carbon based air filtration systems, it is very difficult to maintain a clean, healthy environment in a smoking area when you have a large number of the customers smoking.  And, with the amount of smoke that is generated by a large group of smokers the PAS filter systems require the HEPA filter to be changed once every 4 to 6 months ( normal life is 3 years) and the carbon to be replaced 4 to 6 times a year or more often ( normal life 3 to 6 months).

It is for these reasons, along with the obvious health issues, that entire communities, cities, towns and municipalities are banning smoking from any indoor public facility; even from parks, outdoor stadiums and other recreational facilities.

For more information on this topic and to learn more about the HEPA and Carbon based product line from Pure Air Systems, please go to our website at; www.pureairsystems.com.

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Absorb or Adsorb…You Need To Know The Difference

Remember when you first started to learn to write in cursive ( okay this is before texting) and you sometimes transposed a d for a b? When you did this it would sometimes look correct especially when combined with other words in the same sentence. Eventually you learned which letter format was correct and the d & b letters found their way into the correct word locations and you now know that each letter expressed a different meaning.

This difference between these two letters is no better misunderstood than in the different meaning of the words Adsorb and Absorb. For most people the word Absorb is used in common language as in “this paper towel will absorb a lot of water before I need another one”. Or, ” this new Sham-Wow will absorb 10 times its’ weight in water”.

So when we are using something that has the ability to pick up moisture (of any kind)  like a sponge we use the word absorb or absorption (in this case the second b is replaced by a p….don’t ask me why…ask Daniel Webster).

When we change the second letter in Absorb to a d… and make it Adsorb it modifies the meaning of the word but interestingly does not really change the process the word describes. Adsorb means the removal of odors and gases by the use of medium such as carbon or charcoal. Carbon, for example, will adsorb common gases such as formaldehyde or acetone.

Much like a sponge absorbs water, carbon and other adsorptive media use a very porous surface area to attract and retain gaseous molecules until it is saturated and then release some of those molecules like a sponge releases some water once it is saturated.

Carbon, and the other adsorptive medias such as potassium permangenate and specially treated carbon mediums, have been used for many years to aid in the removal or reduction of harmful gases and many household and industrial odors.

Pure Air Systems has been using carbon as a standard component of their HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985 and today offers a complete line of Carbon based adsorption systems for the commercial, institutional, industrial and residential markets. For more information on this line of Adsorption systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Even With Great Air Filters HVAC Maintenance A Must

Most home owners have a minimal amount of knowledge about heating/cooling systems, but one thing they do know is that the unit requires an air filter. Some home owners have enough experience  to know that not changing the air filter can create problems for their air handler efficiency. Those that have severe allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues usually have significant knowledge about air filters and their efficiencies.

Over the past twenty years air filter technology and air filter materials have been significantly improved; especially those filters designed for the residential markets. Many of the newer air filters fit tighter, have more dust holding capacity and lower pressure drops or resistance. This usually means less dust in the house and less dirt and dust accumulating on the air handlers fan and cooling coil components.

As a result, many home owners often believe that general maintenance on the air handler fan and coil sections can be limited to only once every one to two years. This is certainly not true. Even with the best air filtration systems the cooling coils and air handler fan will eventually get dirty. And, keeping the cooling coils clean is important for  cooling or air conditioning efficiency.

During the year as the HVAC system shifts from heating to cooling and back again,  small amounts of moisture will develop in the duct work and small, sub-micron particles will attach to this water vapor and be deposited on the cooling coils and air handler fan blades. If this material is not removed from these surfaces it can actually cause the fan blade to get out of balance and create bearing problems or put enough of a dust coating on the cooling coils and you will reduce the efficiency of your cooling system and provide a home for mold to grow.

Most heating/cooling contractors offer a maintenance program that includes “tune ups” in both the heating and cooling seasons. If you run your systems 8 to 12 months out of the year, then you should have your HVAC system serviced at least once a year or during both seasons. In addition, you should be changing your air filter at least four times a year or once every three months. This ensures the least amount of dirt build up on the air handler components between servicing.

Pure Air Systems has been providing HEPA, Carbon and air filter media systems for the residential and commercial markets since 1985. Using a commercial grade HEPA system or one of their BioPanel air media filters in your HVAC unit will reduce the level of harmful airborne particulate while maintaining a much cleaner heating/cooling system.

For more information on Pure Air Systems and their complete line of air filtration products please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Capping Off A Clean Environment For Your Favorite Beverage

The next time you pop off, twist off or pull off that cap from your favorite beverage bottle keep in mind that you are about to put your mouth around a glass surface usually without even thinking about it. Wow! Really? Yes.

When we live in an era where people are using disinfectants for their hands, wipes for any kitchen or eating surface it is interesting how much trust we have in placing that screw top bottle into our mouths without a second thought about where it has been.

To be fair, the bottling process for any beverage that is sold in the retail market is strictly controlled by state and federal regulations. Interestingly, the actual filling of the bottle with the liquid and capping process are actually done in a class 10,000 or better clean room environment.

When the term Class 10 , 100, 0r 10,000  is used, it usually means that the area, when measured for a certain sized particulate per cubic foot, needs to be at or below that required Class rating. And the rating is significant.

For example, a Class 10 rating means that when tested with the correct digital equipment the area only has 10 particles per cubic foot at a 0.3 micron level. This is clean room clean. For comparison, your home environment probably has a level exceeding 300,000 particles per cubic foot at 0.3 microns. Big difference.

Understand that most bottling plants are large factory like structures using large process equipment, conveyor belts and equipment transfer stations; for the most part a fairly dirty environment. In order to keep the actual bottling process areas (filling stations) within the required class ratings they have to use HEPA filtered air to either wash the bottles as they are being filled or maintain a class rating for the entire bottling room.

Pure Air Systems has provided a number of its commercial grade HEPA filtration systems for these bottling applications. The PAS product line includes HEPA systems rated from 300 CFM to 2000 CFM all using variable speed motors for finite HEPA air volume control.

The PAS HEPA units are small enough to be placed close to ( less than 12″) the actual filling station and wash the liquid filling process with HEPA filtered air so that no airborne contaminants will enter the bottle or cap during the filling and capping process.

So the next time you get ready to take a drink of that cold soda or brew, you’ll be comforted to know that the cap and bottle top were HEPA filter clean when they left the bottling plant.

For more information on the Pure Air Systems line of HEPA and media based air filtration systems go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Clean Room Environment For Medical Device Manufacturers

With over 6 billion people on the planet and at least 3 billion of them using some form of health care system, the need for all types of medical devices continues to grow. From medical devices products as simple as syringes to complicated and life saving Stents, the need for these products continues to explode and the manufacturing techniques are becoming much more sophisticated.

One of the main challenges facing most hospitals, clinics and out patient facilities that use these numerous medical devices is the constant threat of infection especially post-operative infections. The advent of the newer, more drug resistant strains of bacteria, or MRSA, have made the medical community more aware of the need for reducing any possibility for infection from outside sources.

To ensure these medical devices and products are bacteria free they are manufactured in clean room environments and then sterilized prior to being encased in an air tight enclosure or special wrap.

The technicians that assemble these devices are often gowned and wear latex gloves and masks. This ensure no contamination from the technicians to the devices during the assembly process.

To ensure the entire environment where the materials, parts and final assembly take place is totally free of microscopic airborne contaminants, high efficiency particulate air filters ( HEPA) are used. The entire assembly areas are constantly washed with the HEPA filtered air to ensure a clean room type of environment and to reduce the possibility of shipping a medical device that could be contaminated and thus create a problem for the patient on which the product is used.

HEPA filters by design have a minimum efficiency of removing 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. Many of  the HEPA systems today use even more efficient HEPA media that can remove up to 99.9995% of all particles 0.12 microns and larger.

Pure Air Systems has been producing HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985 and has hundreds of units in operation in the medical market including;  hospitals, clincs, surgery rooms, pharmaceutical manufacturing, post-operative recovery rooms, medical device manufacturers and doctor’s offices.

Pure Air Systems offers a line of fan powered, HEPA based (99.99% at 0.3 microns) systems that range from 300 CFM to 2000 CFM using variable speed drive motors for finite control of air flow. These units can be used as a portable system or attached to existing HVAC units and ductwork. The flexibility and high performance capabilities of the PAS HEPA product  line make it one of the most effective line of HEPA filtration systems on the market today.

For more information on the complete line of HEPA based and media based filtration products please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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Winter Means Dry Air, Dry Sinuses & Static Build Up

For those of you that live in the northern parts of the US, you know that when summer turns to winter, the air gets much drier. The reason is that cold air holds much less moisture than warm air and as a result the cold winter air is much drier. This also means your are shifting your environmental control system from cooling (removal of moisture and cooling the air) to heating ( heating the air).

When you heat the air using your forced air ducted heating/cooling system you remove what little moisture is in the air. The result is a much dryer environment; dry noses and sinuses and the inevitable static build up. The drier air also play havoc with wood furniture.

This warm dry air also increases the levels of airborne particulate since there is no moisture in the air (water molecules) to attach to the dust particles and make them heavier than air. Therefore you are subjected to more dust particles in the winter than in the summer. Add to the fact that windows and doors are seldom opened in the winter, and you have an environment that gets little to no fresh air or outside moisture for months at a time.

One way to minimize this dry air problem is to add some moisture to the indoor air. This is often done by using a humidifier; either attached to the supply side of the HVAC duct system or the use of a portable humidifier. The challenge, however, is to introduce the correct amount of moisture. If you add too much moisture you will get condensation on the windows. It is difficult to maintain the correct humidity levels.

Another way to introduce moist air and maintain a cleaner indoor environment at the same time is to use the whole-house HEPA air filtration systems manufactured by Pure Air Systems. These unit are fan powered and designed to mate to any forced air, ducted heating/cooling system. Not only will these three-stage filtration systems remove harmful airborne particulates and odors and gases but they are also capable of introducing small amounts of outside filtered fresh, moist air.

The 600HS, 1200HS and 2000HS series of HEPA filtration systems have the ability to introduce 50 to 200 cfm of outside air and mix it with the return air and filter it before it is introduced into the HVAC unit. By adding a 6″ or 8″ duct from the outside (preferably from an area just below the roof line) to the selected PAS HEPA unit, you can bring in some of the more moist outside air and increase the moisture in the house naturally.

Even if the outside air temperature is below freezing you are only adding a small amount of air (usually less than 5% of the total HVAC volume) and the cold air is mixed in the HEPA unit with the return air that is also coming into the HEPA unit. The result is an addition of moisture introduced at the ambient air temperature of the home.

For more information on the complete line of Pure Air Systems HEPA based and media based filter systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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