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January 20, 2018

Air Quality in Your Home

Indoor air pollutants are unwanted, sometimes harmful materials in the air. Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks. Usually the best way to address this risk is to control or eliminate the sources of pollutants, and to ventilate a home with clean outdoor air. The ventilation method may, however, be limited by weather conditions or undesirable levels of contaminants contained in outdoor air. If these measures are insufficient, an air cleaning device may be useful. Air cleaning devices are intended to remove pollutants from indoor air.

Some air cleaning devices are designed to be installed in the ductwork of a home’s central heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system to clean the air in the whole house. Portable room air cleaners can be used to clean the air in a single room or specific areas, but they are not intended for whole-house filtration. The following pages will provide information on different types of air cleaning devices and how they work.

Indoor Air Pollutants

Pollutants that can affect air quality in a home fall into the following categories:

  • Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms such as:
    • Dust mites
    • Molds
    • Bacteria
    • Viruses
  • Gaseous pollutants come from combustion processes. Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as:
    • adhesives
    • paints
    • varnishes
    • cleaning products
    • pesticides