Air Filters

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Air filters have become a necessity of modern living. Most of us don't think that by simply being indoors, we are exposing ourselves to serious health risks. Yet that is precisely what scientific evidence has found: that indoor air, including that inside our homes, often contains even more contaminants than outdoor air--including the air in the most polluted industrial cities.

Another study has found that most people spend 90 percent of their lives indoors. That's a surprising statistic to most people, but couple that with the evidence that the air we're breathing is not safe, and it's definitely cause for worry. What makes indoor air harmful to our health? There are two main sources of indoor air pollution. One of those sources is allergens. The other is toxic chemical fumes.

About Allergens

Allergens are naturally-occurring substances in the air that, in certain individuals, aggravate the body's respiratory systems and immune system. What happens is that the body's immune system reacts to allergens as if they were foreign invaders, then acts accordingly to fight the allergens. The result is simply the body's way of trying to get rid of the supposedly dangerous foreign substance: a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, swelling around the eyes, and sometimes even a sinus headache from the buildup of defensive bodily fluids.

In short, allergens cause the human immune system simply to do its job. The problem is, of course, that the results can be extremely annoying for that individual. Sometimes they're so severe that they interfere with the daily functioning of that person, making them feel very ill, even as if they had the flu. It can become very difficult for that individual to sleep, exercise, even go to work. At this point, allergens have become a major disruptive force in that person's life.

About Chemicals

Chemicals are another source of distress for the human body. These agents are often more harmful and insidious than allergens. Often we cannot smell chemical fumes and thus have no way of detecting them. Other times, we are so used to the smell of chemical vapors that we come to think that their presence in our lives is normal and thus harmless.

For example, the supposedly pleasant smell of new carpeting, or the interior of a new car, are both due to the presence of strong chemical vapors. These vapors have been linked to cancer and other serious, often fatal diseases. The good news is that we can do a lot to eliminate these risks from our homes and workplaces. Technology has evolved to the point where highly effective indoor air filters can remove most of this pollution.

Help from Air Filters

Today, many different kinds of air filters are available, each designed to solve a particular problem. For example, particulate filters (such as furnace air filters) filter particulates, or small particles of foreign matter that can provoke allergies, from the air. A partial list of these particulates includes pollen, dust, animal dander, ashes, and cologne.

For the problem of low concentrations of chemical gases, particulate air filters are not effective. Instead, activated carbon filters should be used. These air filters effectively remove harmful chemicals from indoor air. Other popular types of air filters include odor filters, which remove unpleasant smells from the air. These filters are perfect for areas where smokers congregate, or where pets spend a lot of time.

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