Due to the slow and steady encroachment of the coldest months of the year, many homeowners are concerned about prepping their home furnace systems. Not only are they worried about heating requirements, but they are also mindful of the indoor air quality of their families’ living spaces. This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the perfect storm with a little help from an already devastating Coronavirus. Therefore, it is important to stay informed about the different types of air pollutants and harmful particles such as viruses and bacteria that can wreak havoc upon homes, apartments, and offices. It is also important to buy and install higher quality furnace filters in order to protect from these microscopic invaders.
Invisible Threats to Indoor Air Quality
While many believe that they can protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 molecules and other harmful, airborne particles by staying indoors, this is not always the case. Even though it helps to stay inside and avoid contact with others, certain respiratory irritants such as ozone and carbon monoxide pollutants can still attack. Large dust particles, allergens, and particulate matter can also accumulate indoors if they go unchecked. As far as the pandemic is concerned, the CDC revised its COVID-19 guidelines to acknowledge that the virus can, in fact, be spread by airborne transmission. This means that if there is a group of people in an enclosed space, the virus is able to travel more than six feet to infect a healthy body.
Indoor Air Quality Health Concerns
These particles are so small that they can infiltrate people’s lungs and even bloodstreams. This may cause throat and lung irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath in the short term. If exposure continues for longer periods of time, the particles can affect lung function and exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Studies have been carried out to examine the effects of particles, such as PM2.5 (Particulate Matter 2.5), on the respiratory and cardiovascular system. Results suggest that prolonged exposure leads to more hospital appointments, emergency room visits, and death in severe cases. There are also studies that suggest that the risk of having chronic bronchitis increases with exposure.
Harmful pollutants such as these can enter buildings through the ventilation system. Mold and dust can accumulate in the building’s ducts if they are not properly maintained. Mold spawns from humid conditions caused by residual condensation and moisture. Dust builds up in the system if heat registers and ducts are not effectively managed and taken care of. Harmful particles can also be created from the inside as a byproduct of activities such as cooking, using portable heaters, or smoking indoors.
How do you improve indoor air quality?
The main line of defense against most of these particles is good, quality furnace filters. These can be found at almost any hardware store or online. Filters are rated using a few different systems depending on where you are in the world. The most common system in the United States is the MERV scale. According to hvactrainingshop.com, a good filter usually falls between MERV 5 and 8. However, these are very unusual times we are living in. While mid-level filters are able to remove most pollen, mold, and dust mites, they are not able to efficiently filter particles that are one micron in diameter or smaller. For that, you would need MERV 10, 11, or 12.
Now, while these higher-end filters may be able to filter smaller particles quite well, there are still even smaller particles that can get through and cause problems for those inside, such as viruses and bacteria. Not to worry, there is a solution! The highest-rated filters go all the way up to MERV 20. Filters towards the higher end of the scale are usually used in hospitals and industrial settings to filter finer than normal particles that may seek to cause harm. Here at Filti, all of our products target MERV 16 efficiency, which makes our filters some of the highest rated residential filters on the market. This means that they are able to achieve a filtration efficiency of 95% for all three ranges of particle sizes (See Data Table Below).
Improving Air Quality Through Nanofiber Technology
Our 9500 series home furnace filters are constructed using our patent-pending nanofiber technology. The filter media is very similar to the material that we use to make our surgical style masks and bulk material. While most furnace filters utilize electrostatic forces as their main filtration method, the 9500 filter is mechanically efficient. This means that instead of being attracted to ionized particles present in the filter, incoming particulates are physically ensnared by the nanofiber network in the middle of the material. This allows Filti filters to be more efficient than traditional filters for longer periods of time.
The 9500s are also equipped with improved dust holding capacity. This means that they do not experience a rapidly increasing pressure differential throughout the course of their lifetime. When filters become clogged or are not replaced when they are supposed to be, pressure builds up in the system. This pressure build-up could eventually cause severe problems such as a blower motor blow-out, compressor failure, or total system malfunction.
How to Know if You Need Better Filters
Another reason to upgrade your home furnace filters is location, location, location. Naturally, there are areas of the country that have worse quality air than others. While this may vary day to day, some areas have consistently lower quality air than the national average. A good way to check and see if you live in an at-risk area is to visit the EPA’s website and try out the interactive air quality index map.
Atmospheric air quality is affected by many different factors but there are three major ones: ground-level ozone, particulate matter (PM), and weather. Since many home HVAC systems pull in air from the outside, ambient air conditions play a big part in determining which particles you may see inside your home.
Ozone molecules form near the ground when nitrogen oxides interact with other volatile organic compounds such as vehicle exhaust in the presence of heat and sunlight. There are many health problems that can arise from increased ozone exposure such as excessive coughing and lung damage. It can also lead to an increased risk of heart and lung disease.
PM is basically just a bunch of solid and liquid particles that are scattered throughout the air. Some of the most common forms of PM are smoke, dust, and other aerosols. Some of these are emitted directly from sources both natural and man-made while others are created as a result of chemical transformations. A good example of a naturally occurring PM source is fire. When something burns, it leaves ash behind. Wind currents can pick up and redistribute these ash particles hundreds of miles away from their original resting place. Health problems resulting from prolonged PM exposure include reduced lung function, increased risk of asthma attacks, strokes, and even death.
Weather also plays a vital role in changing the quality of the air around us. Factors such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and sunshine can all contribute to varying pollutant concentrations in different regions.
Thanks for reading!
At Filti we are passionate about helping people stay healthy and improving their indoor air quality. Not to mention, our filter products are designed to help keep you and your family safe by filtering out the bad particles in the air. Our nanofiber filters, with a MERV Rating of 16, can filter out up to 95% of bad particles in the air as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Our mission is to make quality air filtration products available to all consumers and frontline workers. For more information about Filti, our products, and our mission, visit our website at http://migration.filti.com/ or send us an email at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!