Houston Indoor Air Quality Tip: Things Your Air Filter Can’t Filter

Air filters are great to have in your Houston home. Many people who own air filters, especially those who suffer from allergies or asthma, swear by them as being very beneficial to their health and general well-being. They help you feel comfortable knowing that your air is clean and fresh.

But how confident should you be in your air filter? Is there anything your air filter is missing? Can you be sure that your air is as clean as can be?

Well, all air filters have limitations, and many do particularly well at trapping and removing certain types of air pollutants, but at the expense of letting others pass. What your air filter can and cannot do depends on what kind of equipment you have.

A conventional air filter, like the pleated kind you may have in your air conditioner, is designed to trap particles in the air. Pollen, dust, dander and other small but solid pollutants and irritants get trapped in their close-knit fibers. The thing to pay attention here is the filter’s HEPA rating—the higher it is, the smaller the particles it can trap. So, if you are using a lower rated filter, you may be trapping pollen but still breathing in smoke particles. Also, sometimes large, heavy particles settle before reaching the filter and can’t be trapped.

A less common option is the gas-phase air filter. As you may guess from the name, these filters are meant to filter out harmful gases in the air. They do not trap particles and usually have a short life, so they need to be replaced frequently.

In addition to filters, there are other air cleaning options like ultraviolet germicidal (UVG) lights and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. PCOs are meant to filter out harmful gases, but have limited use in homes. UVG lights use radiation that is harmless to people but deadly to microorganisms to pure air of bacteria and other pathogens.

In sum, if you are concerned about the quality of the air in your Houston home, the best strategy is probably to use multiple solutions, such as a combination of an air filter and UVG lights, in order to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Keep in mind, though, that no system is perfect in keeping everything out of your air.

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