Indoor air quality is not a new industry but over the past few years the intrigue and awareness has accelerated rapidly. There are a few ways to improve indoor air quality; at its simplest by bringing in fresh air- opening a window. Many of the buildings where we work, live and play were built in a way that opening a window simply isn’t an option.
Let’s start off with why air purification matters to you. Whether you’re considering an air purification strategy for a school, nursing home, office facility or your own living room, the bottom line is germs are everywhere. Not only can these devices help mitigate virus spread as well as eliminate bacteria, molds, allergens and more from the air, but the latest technologies also help with odor reduction.
We all do things in our daily lives that contaminate the air in our homes and workspaces.
When you clean your house with chemicals, you can see the aerosol particles in the air, and likely smell them too.
When your pet comes in from outside and shakes out their coat, they’re shedding hair and other contaminants that you might not be able to see or smell.
When someone sneezes in the office, blows their nose and tosses the tissue in a communal open air garbage can.
Poor indoor air quality has been linked to higher absentee rates, less productive employees, Sick Building Syndrome, and in some cases death.
More recently, the CDC began encouraging the use of air purification devices to help stop the transmission of airborne viruses such as SARS-coV-2.
The purpose of any air purification device is to improve indoor air quality. An air purifier will work silently from the corner (or HVAC system), constantly cleaning the air your family or coworkers are breathing in day and night.
As we look to the future of this industry, there are 3 key issues that will need to be addressed in order to continue to offer the best products and latest science & technology available to consumers.
1. Testing Regulations and Standardizations. For years, the industry has relied on lab surface testing to determine efficacy of these products. Unfortunately, that method does not properly mirror the dynamic circumstances that put these devices to the test in real life. This means that devices meant to continuously improve air quality are being tested for their effectiveness the same way that an anti-bacterial wet wipe is used to wipe down a counter and see how many bacteria it kills.
Our industry needs to find a standard of field testing in real world situations that give all devices a fair reading and chance to demonstrate their capabilities.
Additionally, the current standards allow each company the freedom to independently hire their own privately held testing facility where self-defined protocols often determine the quality of the results. Tests are currently being run in controlled environments with limited cubic-size options and no real-world dynamic activity.
Finally, we need a clear and easy way for consumers to understand these test results and what these ratings mean for them.
2. Clean Air Delivery Rate. This has been the gold standard of measurement for air purification devices, measuring the speed that the purifier turns over the air in the room ad removes dusk, smoke, pollen, etc. However a CADR reading is only half the story for a number of air purification devices that use both active and passive technology.
Earlier this year the EPA finally acknowledged that there are a growing number of companies (like Greentech) who are using combination technologies to filter air. CADR readings are based on passive technologies. Measuring results based on that same scale for a device that combines both active and passive technologies is not accurate because air doesn’t need to pass through our device to be cleaned. Active technology goes out and cleans the air where it is.
The HEPA filter adds another layer but the air is cleaned before it even hits the unit. It’s time that the industry finds a new standard of measurement that consumers can rely on for all air purification devices.
3. Technology Acceptance Beyond Filtration. The days of single passive technology may be limited. The future of indoor air quality is truly going to be combinations of technology- whether its passive and active technologies, odor reducing capabilities or who knows what else is yet to come. Consumers want more from their devices. We’ve recently seen cars that are including air purification technology built into their systems, air purifiers that are disguised as furniture like end tables, and more.
The future of indoor air quality is exciting, but it’s time to demand more standardization and transparency so consumers know they are getting all of the most current, available information.