The best type of consumer is an informed consumer.  Decisions about the water we use for our homes, family, and health is important – including decisions about whether or not to utilize resources to provide proven treatment options.  You can take charge of your health, home, and family by being an informed consumer. These FAQs and articles can help you think about the safety of your water and air and may even direct you to questions you may have for American Water & Air.

Frequently Asked Questions

Clean and Safe Air Information

Q. Why do I need an air purifier?

A. An air purifier will improve your health.  Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that, on average, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.  This includes common allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores but also exhaust emissions, smoke, VOCs, and other chemical vapors.

Q. What causes indoor air pollution?

A. Modern homes are sealed tightly for energy efficiency.  Energy efficient homes are good for your electric bill, but bad for your allergies.  Those tight seals trap all kinds of contaminants in your home: pollen that blows in when a door or window is opened, cat dander that hitches a ride on clothing, chemicals and irritants released by cleaners or cooking, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which off-gas from furniture and carpet.  Pollutants like tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, dust, and animal dander can cause asthmatic and allergic reactions, making homes unpleasant and unhealthy for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Even if your symptoms are not noticeable now, that doesn't mean the air inside your home is clean.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor health may show up only after long or repeated exposure; therefore, it's a good idea to clean the air in your home now, especially if you have children.  Prolonged exposure to airborne allergens and pollutants have been linked to allergies (and more serious health problems) developing later in life.

Q. What is a HEPA filter?

A. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air.  HEPA air purifiers were originally developed by the Atomic Energy Commission to capture radioactive dust particles. Our HEPA air purifiers will not filter radioactive particles, but they will take care of common allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust, etc.  By definition, a HEPA filter are tested to certify that they remove at least 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns and larger.  Why the 0.3 micron size? This is the size of particle that scientists and testing have deemed to be the "most penetrating particle size".  This means that of all particles, including those larger AND smaller, particles that are 0.3 microns have been shown to be the most difficult to trap, and thus, this is the standard by which HEPA filtration is measured.

Q. What is an activated carbon filter?

A. Activated carbon and charcoal filters excel at adsorbing odors and gases and neutralizing smoke, chemicals, and fumes.  "Adsorb" is not a typo; "adsorption" occurs when materials attach, through chemical attraction.  They bind with the surface of the carbon.  Activated carbon has been treated with oxygen, opening up millions of pores in the carbon.  There are so many of these tiny pores that one pound of activated carbon has a surface area of 60 to 150 acres!  This huge surface area makes it ideal for adsorbing gases and odors.  Chemicals and gases are too small to be trapped by a HEPA filter, but most bond readily to the enormous surface area in activated carbon.  The bigger the carbon filter, the larger the volume chemicals it will be able to adsorb and the longer it will keep on working.  Activated carbon can adsorb roughly 50-65% of its weight in gases, smoke and other chemical vapors.  When it's full, it cannot adsorb anymore and has to be replaced. Activated carbon filters are derived from a variety of base substances including anthracite and bituminous coal, sawgrass, coconut shells, and even rayon.

Q. Should I run my air purifier all the time?

A. We recommend that you run your air purifier continuously for optimum operation.  If noise is a consideration, we generally recommend running it at higher speeds while away for work or school then turning the fan speed down to quieter levels before bedtime or when you get home.

Q. Am I going to see a significant difference in my electric bill?

A. Like all appliances, different air purifiers use different amounts of energy for operation.  Unlike most appliances, air purifiers run continuously, so you may want to consider your utility bill before buying an air purifier.  (If only volts and amps are listed, simply multiply the two: volts x amps = watts.)  Typical HEPA air purifiers can use anywhere from 50 watts on low to 200 watts on high.  For comparison sake, a typical lamp uses about 60 watts, while a typical computer uses about 365 watts.  Therefore, while its wise to consider energy usage, most air purifiers will not create a significant difference on your electric bill.

Q. How loud are air purifiers?

A. Some air purifiers are extremely quiet, while nearly all can be quite loud when operating at high power.  We are happy to give you a demonstration before you buy your air purifier, and for the majority of air purifiers we offer, there are decibel ratings on the individual pages.

Q. What else can I do to clean the air in my house?

A. You should make every possible effort to remove the pollutant at its source.  If you think you might be allergic to mold, make sure you don't have a mold colony growing in your basement.  If the offending irritant stems from chemicals or gases, then bringing in fresh air can result in a huge improvement.  Also, some activities create high levels of pollutants like painting, sanding, or cleaning with harsh cleaners. If possible, it's a good idea to open up the house and ventilate as much as possible when participating in these sorts of activities.

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