Air Filters & Indoor Air Quality

Most people want to live healthy lives, but staying healthy goes beyond just maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. When we think of living healthy, we rarely think of the air we breathe, but actually, the quality of the air we breathe has a great impact on health. This is especially true of indoor air.

Indoor Air Quality

Most people want to live healthy lives, but staying healthy goes beyond just maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. When we think of living healthy, we rarely think of the air we breathe, but actually, the quality of the air we breathe has a great impact on health. This is especially true of indoor air.

Did you know that indoor air is anywhere from two to five times more polluted than outdoor air? It is according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which also states that some houses can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air! This statistic is difficult to believe, especially with smoke and smog in outdoor air, but it makes sense when you think of how tightly insulated most homes are today, especially with the need for lower energy costs. However, when too little outdoor air is allowed to circulate indoors, indoor air pollution becomes a problem.

What’s In Air?

Common Pollutants

What exactly is indoor air pollution? Well, it may not be what most people consider pollution, mostly because indoor air pollution mainly consists of microscopic particles that cannot be seen. There are many different types of indoor air pollutants; the following are some of the most common:

  • Dust mite debris
  • Dust particles
  • Mold spores
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander
  • Grasses/pollen grains
  • Odors
  • Chemicals and gases

Air pollutants can travel in the air, they can travel on pets, and they can lodge in carpets and on furniture, making them easily breathable. Without proper ventilation or air control, these pollutants can quickly become a problem, especially for allergen or asthma sufferers.

Dust Particles/Dust Mite Debris

One of the most common indoor air pollutants is dust mite debris. Dust mites are microscopic creatures that feed on dust and constantly expel feces into the air. They bed in places like pillows, mattresses, carpets, and furniture, and breathing their debris is a common allergen trigger.

Mold Spores

Mold is a common pollutant that is sometimes found inside homes. It grows in moist areas or dark, damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and areas of high humidity. Spores from mold growth can become airborne, where it is easily breathed. Touching or inhaling mold spores can trigger allergies, asthma, or other health problems.

Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke is one of the worst triggers for breathing problems. Not only does it aggravate breathing, but large exposure can lead to serious health problems like lung cancer and heart disease. Tobacco smoke is not just an airborne allergen; it also sinks into carpets and furniture, where it is harmful to all, especially to little children toddling on the floor.

Pet Dander

Though pets may be “part of the family,” they are still animals, and pets are one of the worst sources for allergens. Not only do they carry allergens from the outdoors—such as grasses, grains, and spores—but they also produce pet dander. Pet dander is dead skin flakes from animals like dogs and cats; though pet dander can be carried into any home, with or without pets, it is greater in homes with pets and can be a harsh allergen.

Grasses/Pollen Grains

Perhaps the worst summer allergens, pollen grains and grasses are allergens known for producing hay fever symptoms—sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc. They travel in the air, on clothes, and on pets and can easily become indoor pollutants that are easily breathed.


Odors are not harmful for your health and rarely cause allergic reactions, but they are indeed indoor air pollutants that are many times unpleasant. Odors are tiny gas particles that travel and linger in the air. They originate from several different sources—for example, cooking, garbage, bathroom, etc.—and can be bothersome and uninviting.

How to Maintain Good Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air pollution has steadily risen to become a problem in today’s homes, and it definitely has negative effects. That is why it is important to regulate indoor air pollution. Although it is impossible to rid of indoor air pollution entirely, there are ways to lower the amount of pollutants in your home and to raise the quality of air your family breathes every day.

Home Air Filters

Can air filters really improve the quality of indoor air? Well, some can and some cannot; it depends on the type of filter that you have. Cheap washable fiberglass filters barely improve the performance of your HVAC system, and they certainly do not help improve your air quality. However, having a high quality air filter—such as a pleated electrostatic filter or a hospital-grade HEPA filter—can actually improve your air quality.

The air circulating through your home is pulled through the air system, which passes through the air filter and then is redistributed throughout the house. When you have a high quality air filter, the filter does not just trap large particles like dirt, dust bunnies, and lint, but it also removes the tiny microscopic allergens that ordinary fiberglass filters do not trap. The air that is then circulating throughout the house is cleaner, healthier air and is better for breathing.

There are many different types of filters, but it is important to know which ones are the best and which ones to avoid. Basically, cheap fiberglass filters are not recommended for use in home air systems. They trap large particles like dust bunnies, lint, hair, and dirt particles, but they do not trap microscopic particles; this not only sends allergens circulating through your home, but it also puts pressure on the air system.

Pleated Electrostatic Filters 

If you want better quality indoor air and better performance for your HVAC system, then you need a more advanced air filter, such as an electrostatic filter. Electrostatic filters are made from charged material that attracts oppositely charged air particles like a magnet. This allows the filter to capture a much larger size range of particulates, as well as a larger amount. Electrostatic filters capture tiny microscopic pollutants such as allergens, smoke, and bacteria.

The performance of electrostatic filters is increased by adding pleats. Pleated filters have a larger dust-holding capacity, meaning they can trap and hold more pollutants, which means longer-lasting, more efficient performance. Electrostatic filters, which use static electricity to draw pollutants, become less efficient with the more pollutants they trap. For this reason, they must be replaced on a regular basis. Regular replacement ensures higher efficiency for your filter, better performance for your air system, and better air quality for your home.

HEPA Filters

Another highly efficient home air filter is a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are made of specially designed filtration technology that traps up to 99.97% of all airborne particulates as small as 0.3 microns. This means that they trap a wide range of microscopic pollutants, including particles like dust particles, dust mite debris, mold spores, tobacco smoke, pet dander, pollen grains, bacteria, and even some viruses.

HEPA filters are commonly used in hospitals, laboratories, sickrooms, and other professional venues, as well as for residential applications. Like electrostatic filters, HEPA filters must be replaced regularly for optimum performance. This merely increases the quality of the filter’s performance and the quality of the air circulating back throughout your home.

Pre Filters

If you want to get the best results for your home air quality, using a pre filter can be a big help. Pre filters, just like the name suggests, go before the main air filter and trap large particulates that easily clog a filter. Pre filters keep the main filter more efficient for trapping smaller, more harmful microscopic allergens by removing large particulates like dust, lint, and hair before they enter the main filter. This allows for longer-lasting filtration and better filter performance. For the best air filtration results, pre filters are always recommended.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are made specifically for removing odors. Like mentioned above, odors are tiny gas particles and cannot be trapped by ordinary filters, even highly efficient filters like HEPA or electrostatic filters. However, carbon filters are made of carbon that has been treated with oxygen in a process that opens up millions of extremely tiny, highly absorbent pores that trap tiny particles. Carbon filters do not just trap odors; they also trap smoke, gaseous vapors, and even some chemicals like VOCs. If you have a problem with unpleasant odors or if you want fresher indoor air, then carbon filters might be what you need.

Air Purifiers and Humidifiers 

Air purifiers and humidifiers are also good ways to get higher quality indoor air, especially if you need better air concentrated in one room space. For example, allergy and asthma sufferers sometimes need extra relief from indoor air pollution, so do infants and young children. Air purifiers or humidifiers can provide that extra relief.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers, or room air cleaners, are designed to remove particulates from one particular room space. They use the same types of filtration as home air filters, and they remove the same types of particulates. Air purifiers come in a variety of different sizes, types, operations, and filter types; it really depends on your air quality needs, and they can actually provide better air filtration because it concentrates the cleaner air in one area. This makes air purifiers perfect for bedrooms, living or cooking areas, playrooms, offices, etc.

Air purifiers work by pulling air from the room, which is passed through a filter. The filter traps particulates present in the air (sometimes going through several different stages of filtration), and sends purified air back into the room.This keeps purified air circulating throughout the room. Air purifiers are a great way to keep higher quality indoor air inside your home, whether it is in the bedroom, the living room, nursery, or kitchen.


Just as heavy insulation can lead to the accumulation of indoor air pollutants, a very dry indoor climate can also have negative health effects. Dry air really becomes a problem during the dry, cold winter months, especially when you have dry, warm air blowing constantly in your house. This dries out indoor air, and constantly breathing dry air causes dry, inflamed sinus passages, leading to breathing problems. Constant dry air also causes damage to furniture and wood floors, meaning high costs for replacement.

This is when a humidifier can come in handy. Humidifiers are designed to release moisture into dry air, which keeps the humidity level better regulated. Breathing moisturized air keeps the throat and sinus passages hydrated, which helps soothe inflamed membranes and allergies, helping to keep a humidified home and a healthier family.

Cleaning Regularly

Though it may seem like a given, cleaning regularly can lessen the amount of indoor air pollution inside your home. Dusting and vacuuming are extremely important. Vacuuming carpets and cloth furniture can go a long way for reducing the amount of indoor air pollution; this reduces the amount of dust, dust mites, dirt, dander, and other pollutants in areas you frequent. It is best to use a vacuum that contains a filter, which traps dust particles and other microscopic particulates, rather than spewing them back into the air.

Also, it is important to remember to wash sheets and pillows often. Dust mites love to bed in pillows and mattresses, so it is important to wash pillows along with sheets to reduce allergies from dust mites. Sometimes just the little things like sweeping, dusting, washing, and vacuuming can make a huge difference in keeping healthier indoor air and in raising the quality of your home breathing environment.