Air Purifiers for Allergies and Finding Relief from Seasonal Irritants

Air purification in Seattle, WA

Allergies are often a year-round concern in the Pacific Northwest. Indoor allergens can cause flare-ups at any point. Pollen is present throughout spring, summer and fall. Winter is often the only time you get a reprieve, but then, you have to deal with the dry air. That’s why many allergists in this region recommend an air purifier for your home and a whole-home air purifier in particular. With enough air purification, you’ll avoid inflammation and triggers and reduce your symptoms when they do occur.

Whole-House Air Purification

If you want to reduce allergens in your home, experts recommend a whole-home air purification system. Portable units can be effective but only in the immediate space where you use them. Whole-house systems provide you with cleaner air in every room, all the time.

Treatment Volume and Air Changes Per Hour

Treatment volume, which some manufacturers call coverage, is an important concept when choosing an air purifier. If you have a 2,000-square-foot home, you want a whole-home system with a treatment volume of 2,000 square feet or more. Most air cleaners, including those that use ions or hydrogen peroxide, provide coverage between 3,000 and 6,000 square feet.

When choosing a traditional air purification system, air changes per hour (ACH) is an important consideration as well. A system has to force all the air it filters through its filter stages. That means you need to know how much air it provides. A 5-ACH air purifier will clean all the air in its coverage area five times an hour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 ACH as a baseline homeowners should target. Immunologists often recommend 6 ACH or greater for their patients who have asthma, bad allergies and other respiratory ailments.

Room Purifiers and Clean Air Delivery Rate

Some people with allergies will want to have a room air purifier in their bedroom in addition to a whole-house system. For these products, some brands will use clean air delivery rate (CADR) in addition to or in lieu of ACH. CADR indicates the amount of clean air a portable air purifier provides per minute. Allergists recommend the two-thirds guideline. If your bedroom is 224 square feet, you’ll want a room purifier with a 150 CADR or higher.

Reduce Allergens in the Home

For allergies, the number one goal with an air purifier is to reduce airborne allergens. Allergens get into your home from the outdoors. You may inadvertently introduce them as well. In either case, they’re often worse indoors because they accumulate into higher concentration levels.

There are two main approaches to filtering large particular matter: mechanical filtration and ion generation. Many air purifiers with mechanical filtration use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. A True HEPA filter is a pleated filter that can trap over 99% of airborne allergens, including dust, pollen and pet dander.

Ion generators work by dispersing ions, which are electrically charged molecules. These molecules bind to pollutants and contaminants and neutralize them by forcing them out of the air. The pollutants drop to the ground or adhere to walls and other surfaces. An advantage to this approach is that the air cleaning occurs beyond the air purifier itself. It happens throughout your home as the ions travel.

Whether you choose ion generation, mechanical filtration or both, put your air purifier in a position to succeed. The first step is to keep your home as clear of dust as possible. Perform a deep dusting at least once a week. Using a microfiber duster or a damp cloth, dust rooms top to bottom. Then, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to collect the dust from carpets, rugs, hard surfaces and furnishings.

It’s also important to take care of your HVAC system. Schedule seasonal tune-ups to ensure that your HVAC equipment is as clean as possible. Choose a high-quality air filter. Minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) is a filter rating system. Most systems support MERV 13, which will keep most allergens out of your system. You should also check your HVAC filter regularly and replace or clean it as needed.

Note that your HVAC system doesn’t provide the same air cleaning benefits an air purifier does. These steps just ensure that your HVAC system doesn’t become part of the problem.

Reduce Fine and Ultra-Fine Particulate Matter

Microscopic particles in the air you breathe cause inflammation of your respiratory system. That inflammation makes you more sensitive to allergic episodes and can make your symptoms worse. Long-term exposure can also have a negative impact on your overall health. That includes making you more susceptible to other respiratory conditions.

Limit Gases and Chemicals

Another reason to have an air purifier is to neutralize gases, which can contain toxic chemicals. These are bad for your health in general but can also cause inflammation and exacerbate allergy symptoms. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a notable concern. VOCs can irritate your nose, throat and skin and even cause nausea.

Lower Exposure to Bacteria and Viruses

One of the side effects of allergies is that you’re more prone to infections and certain viruses. You can combat this by managing your allergies. You can also limit your exposure to viruses and bacteria. An effective way to do this is through ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI). Some air purifiers provide this filtration through integrated ultraviolet (UV) lamps. You can also augment your air purification with stand-alone UV lamps in your ducts.

Humidity Control

You may also want to consider a dehumidifier and humidifier to work in conjunction with your air purifier. The EPA recommends maintaining a relative humidity (RH) between 30% and 50%. This can be difficult to do through air conditioning and heating alone. A dehumidifier will help you keep your RH at 50% or less in summer. A humidifier will help you keep your RH at 30% or higher in winter.

Avoiding Ozone

The EPA advises against the use of air cleaners that produce ozone. Some systems create ozone directly while others generate it as a byproduct. Ozone is an irritant. It can affect people with no respiratory conditions at all. In people with asthma and allergies, ozone can be a significant irritant, trigger episodes and worsen symptoms.

Note that ion generators often get a bad rap. There are lower-quality ion generators on the market that do generate ozone, but there are high-quality units that do not. The REME HALO in-duct air purifier is an excellent example. It’s one of the most sophisticated and innovative air purification systems on the market. It also achieves zero ozone emissions to UL 2998. That allows it to have the UL Environmental Claim Validation badge.

Air Purification Specialists in the Seattle Area

Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning has served the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years out of our Kirkland and Monroe locations. Our indoor air quality team cleans ducts and installs and services various air purifier solutions along with dehumidifiers and humidifiers. Our NATE-certified HVAC technicians specialize in gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and ductless ACs and heat pumps. Our electricians perform inspections, electrical repairs and panel upgrades. They also install generators, EV chargers, RV plugins, hot tub wiring, outlets, switches, ceiling fans, lighting and much more. Call today to schedule an appointment or ask questions about our services.