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Blueair FAQ – About Clean Air

More Blueair Resources: Blueair HomeAbout Blueair * Why Blueair? * HEPASilent Technology * The Threat In Our Indoor Air * Buying Guide * Selection Tips * 10 Reasons to Buy Blueair * Cleaner, Healthier Air


Why should I consider an air purification system?

Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental risks to public health, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lung-damaging indoor pollutants may include house dust, pollen and pet dander particles, and tobacco smoke, fumes released by chemical-based cleaners or gases produced by synthetic building materials. While air purification cannot solve all indoor air pollution problems, the technique is an important part of the EPA's recommended strategy for improving indoor air quality.

Contemporary construction methods help seal fumes and particles indoors. According to the EPA, indoor pollution levels may build until they are between two and five times higher than outdoor levels - and may even be as much as 100 times higher. Because we spend as much as 90% of our time inside our homes and workplaces, the health risks from exposure to indoor air pollution cannot be ignored.

Immediate health effects may include headache, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Even if you experience no noticeable symptoms of pollution-related illness, the EPA says it is prudent to improve the quality of your indoor air. Long-term exposure may contribute to respiratory and heart diseases, allergies or asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

To improve indoor air quality, the EPA recommends removal of the pollutant source, increased ventilation, and air cleaning. The first two strategies are effective for some pollutants under some circumstances. Air purification, in conjunction with either strategy or on its own, may be the easiest to live with.

Blueair systems remove 99.97% of the tiniest (0.1 micron) particles that accumulate inside our homes when operating on level one. These pollutants can affect anyone over time, although children, the elderly and those with respiratory illness (including allergies and asthma) may suffer most from high indoor pollution levels.

While air purification cannot solve all indoor air quality problems, the technique is an important part of the EPA's recommended strategy for improving indoor air quality.


What does CADR mean and why does it matter?

The Clean Air Delivery Rate, or CADR, on a box can tell a consumer how efficient air purifiers are at removing a certain contaminant from the indoors. The three pollutants that are measured are pollen, smoke and dust. These three pollutants are the most common ones found in the home's indoor air. By comparing the CADR numbers of each air cleaner, a consumer is able to determine which unit would be the most effective for the room he or she is concentrating on. The CADR tells how effective the air purifier will be at removing the pollutant from the room. With the help of the AHAM seal, consumers can concentrate on how the air purifiers will perform in a real-life setting inside their home. The consumer does not have to examine and compare which type of technology or filtering system he or she may need but only how effective the air cleaner may be according to the CADR's.

By separating the three contaminants and making three different CADR's for each pollutant, the AHAM has helped consumers to make the decision between home air purifiers. If one air purifier has a high pollen rating, a consumer who may have pollen allergies will be more prone to choosing that purifier for his or her home. A home air cleaner may have a high CADR when it comes to tobacco smoke so a homeowner that lives with residents who smoke cigarettes inside may choose that air purifier for his or her needs.

The room size rating that is calculated by the AHAM and is printed on the seal is also helpful for consumers when choosing home air purifiers. The room size rating that is given to each air purifier is based on the ability for it to remove 80% of smoke particles in a room. The rate assumes that the air moves through the room with one air change per hour and complete mixing inside the room.

Excerpt above by ClearFlite Air Purifiers writer Kelly K.


The test method used to establish CADR values is recognized as an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in its Air Cleaner Energy Star Program. To ensure test results are accurate and impartial, CADR testing is performed by an independent industry organization, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

While some manufacturers do not submit their air purification systems for independent AHAM testing, we at Blueair believe that CADR results should be central to your decision-making process. An air purification system is an important investment in your family's health and well-being. We urge you to compare CADR results for the air purification systems that you consider.


How do I make a fair comparison of air purification systems?

When the particle size and filter efficiency of any two air cleaners are the same (as they often are), the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is key to choosing the more effective system.

CADR test results are expressed in cubic feet per minute (CFM), with a number rating for three 'yardstick' pollutants: tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. The higher the CADR test numbers, the better the overall ability of the unit to clean your indoor air. CADR results reflect:

* the size of the particle removed
* what percentages of particles are removed
* the volume of air actually moving through the system

Air volume is often described as air exchange (the number of times the total volume of air in the room is processed by the unit within a given period of time). Some manufacturers substitute air exchange rates for CADR results, but they are not equivalent. CADR numbers give a much more precise report of an air purifier's performance.

CADR works the same way, rating not just how much air is cleaned nor just what percentages of particles are removed, but the overall performance of the filtration system when both factors are examined.

Let's say that both Air Purifier 1 and Air Purifier 2 have a filter efficiency of 99.97% for particles that are 0.1 micron in size. The difference between the two units is the amount of air filtered through the unit (airflow air exchange rate). Air Purifier 1 provides an air exchange rate of 3 per hour, which means that the entire volume of air in the space is filtered through the unit three times per hour. Air Purifier 2 provides an air exchange rate of 5 per hour, filtering the air in the space five times per hour. Air Purifier 2 is better than Air Purifier 1; it has the same filter efficiency but filters the air in the room more frequently. Like CADR, this is based on both filter efficiency and the amount of air filtered.

An air purifier can have lower filter efficiency and higher air exchange rate than another air purifier, yet still deliver a better Clean Air Delivery Rate. That is why using CADR to compare air purifiers is the best way to find the best air purifier for you.


How small is a micron and why does it matter?

One micron is 1/1000 mm (1/25,000 of an inch). Airborne particles are usually described in microns. Generally speaking, the human eye can see debris and dust that are approximately 25 microns in size.

To understand just how small this is, consider that a single hair from your head averages about 70 microns in diameter or 30 times larger than the largest fine particle. The size of a given particle helps to determine the degree of potential threat to human health.

Particles ranging from 0.3 to 0.9 micron present the greatest health concern because they are small enough to get past the tiny hairs that line our breathing passages and are too large to be easily exhaled. These irritating mid-range particles include house and textile dust, pollen, pet dander, dust mites and their feces, many bacteria, auto exhaust, mold spores, and particles from laser printers and copiers.

0.1 to 0.3 micron = Dust mites and allergens

0.3 to 1 micron = Tobacco smoke, metallic fumes and bacteria such as staphylococcus

1 to 5 microns = Bacteria and small dust particles

5 to 10 microns = Mold, pollen, medium dust particles

10 microns = Large dust particles

Because mid-range particles are more likely to become lodged in lung tissue, they are suspect in a wide range of health problems related to indoor air pollution, from headaches and dizziness to cardiovascular disease and cancer. In particular, pollen, pet dander, mold spores and dust mite particles are known to trigger asthma episodes and allergy attacks.

While smaller particles (0.1 to 0.3 micron) can be inhaled and exhaled more easily than mid-range particles, even these minute particles may irritate breathing passages and lungs. Smaller particle filtration is particularly beneficial to people living with allergies, asthma, other respiratory conditions, or cardiovascular disease.

Blueair's patented HEPASilent filter technology is proven effective at capturing 99.97% of particles that are 0.1 micron or larger in size. When optimum filter capability is the priority, Blueair is clearly the system of choice.

How Blueair Works

What type of Blueair filter do I need?

Choose a filter type based on the kinds of pollutants (particles and gases) that may be present in your particular environment. Blueair's standard HEPASilent filter is a Particle Filter that provides efficient filtration for environments where particles are the primary concern and gases are secondary. For any environment in which removing gaseous pollutants (including tobacco smoke) is a priority, we recommend the optional SmokeStop filter.

All Blueair systems incorporate patented HEPASilent technology, which combines mechanical and electrostatic filtration methods to capture 99.97% of the tiniest 0.1 micron particles and gases.

Blueair systems remove more of the smallest particles, compared to the HEPA systems of other manufacturers. They remove more dust than competitive units. Our standard filters are suitable not only for average homes with family members in good overall health, but also for families who need an extra level of protection for the elderly, small children or those with respiratory or cardiovascular illness.

Blueair's optional SmokeStop filter adds more gas adsorption capability and is recommended for removal of tobacco smoke, and for environments like workshops or workplaces where chemical fumes and gases are present.

For people with chemical sensitivities, and those whose asthma or allergies are provoked by strong odors and fumes, the SmokeStop filter provides an even higher level of protection.

Blueair units are also helpful in fighting the effects of smoke from forest fires.


What are Blueair filters made of?

Standard HEPASilent filters incorporate non-toxic polypropylene filter media to trap particles and activated carbon filter media to remove gases. The optional SmokeStop filter adds more carbon for enhanced gas adsorption. The two filter options are otherwise identical in terms of particle filtering ability, filter life and size. Both polypropylene and carbon are recyclable. Polypropylene is a non-toxic fiber with ideal properties for use as a filter media.

Polypropylene is central to the electrostatic filtration component of the Blueair system. Polypropylene molecules readily orient to an electric field. That is, the molecules 'feel' a charged particle enter the filter media and turn toward it. This creates a high attraction force, which acts in turn to draw the particle toward the polypropylene fiber where it can be captured.

When compared to standard filter media made of triclosan-coated paper or glass fibers, polypropylene is an ideal material. Because polypropylene is waterproof, Blueair systems need no chemical-based bacteriostats or mold inhibitors. Instead of absorbing the moisture in which bacteria thrive, polypropylene repels water and prevents bacteria, mold and mildew from reproducing inside the filter. Thus, your family can avoid the potential adverse health effects of chemical additives.

Activated carbon adsorbs odors, fumes and other gaseous pollutants implicated in a host of illnesses related to indoor air pollution. Both standard Blueair system filters and advanced SmokeStop filters use activated carbon media; the optional SmokeStop filter has a higher carbon weight that enables it to absorb significantly more gases and odors.


What does HEPA stand for?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. Blueair's patented HEPASilent filtration technology effectively removes 99.97% of all airborne particles that are 0.1 micron or larger from the air that passes through the filter.

Pushing the air through the filter typically requires a strong fan motor, which can be noisy. To make Blueair units whisper-silent, the company uses sturdy steel housing combined with soundproofing material.


How does HEPASilent technology achieve such high levels of filtration?

Most HEPA filter systems use only mechanical filtration, which as a standard, remove 99.97% of particles at 0.3 micron. Blueair's patented HEPASilent filter technology combines mechanical and active electrostatic filtration methods, in order to achieve higher efficiency and capture smaller particles than either mechanical or electrostatic filtration alone.

Mechanical filtration essentially strains out or intercepts mid-range particles (0.3 to 0.9 micron) in much the same way as a colander strains pasta. And just as tiny bits of pasta escape through the holes in a colander, the tiniest particles can float past the filter media and escape an air purification system.

Particles that mechanical filtration alone might miss are captured by the electrostatic component of Blueair's HEPASilent system. HEPASilent technology filters out 99.97% of particles at 0.1 micron, when operating at its lowest speed.

Our system moves all particles through a sealed ion chamber, where they collide with negative ions and pick up a very slight electrical charge. As they exit the ion chamber, particles are attracted to the positively charged pleats of the HEPASilent filter media. Rather than floating past the filter media, particles are captured and removed from your indoor air.

Most electrostatic systems charge the fibers of the filter media itself, rather than the particles. The charge naturally dissipates over time and renders the filter media less efficient. By constantly charging incoming particles, instead of the filter fibers, HEPASilent technology keeps on working effectively and reliably.

Ionization does produce trace amounts of ozone, a gas known to irritate compromised lung tissue. Blueair systems use a very low electrical current to minimize ozone production and a sealed steel housing surrounding the ionization chamber to keep ozone contained. For more protection, our activated carbon filter adsorbs any ozone particles that may escape from the encapsulated ionization chamber.

In fact, testing shows that the ozone concentration in our system's output air is actually lower than in the incoming air. Blueair's electrostatic system is no threat to health, even for those with respiratory illness.


How does HEPASilent technology achieve such high levels of filtration?

Most HEPA filter systems use only mechanical filtration, which as a standard, remove 99.97% of particles at 0.3 micron. Blueair's patented HEPASilent filter technology combines mechanical and active electrostatic filtration methods, in order to achieve higher efficiency and capture smaller particles than either mechanical or electrostatic filtration alone.

Mechanical filtration essentially strains out or intercepts mid-range particles (0.3 to 0.9 micron) in much the same way as a colander strains pasta. And just as tiny bits of pasta escape through the holes in a colander, the tiniest particles can float past the filter media and escape an air purification system.

Particles that mechanical filtration alone might miss are captured by the electrostatic component of Blueair's HEPASilent system. HEPASilent technology filters out 99.97% of particles at 0.1 micron, when operating at its lowest speed.

Our system moves all particles through a sealed ion chamber, where they collide with negative ions and pick up a very slight electrical charge. As they exit the ion chamber, particles are attracted to the positively charged pleats of the HEPASilent filter media. Rather than floating past the filter media, particles are captured and removed from your indoor air.

Most electrostatic systems charge the fibers of the filter media itself, rather than the particles. The charge naturally dissipates over time and renders the filter media less efficient. By constantly charging incoming particles, instead of the filter fibers, HEPASilent technology keeps on working effectively and reliably.

Ionization does produce trace amounts of ozone, a gas known to irritate compromised lung tissue. Blueair systems use a very low electrical current to minimize ozone production and a sealed steel housing surrounding the ionization chamber to keep ozone contained. For more protection, our activated carbon filter adsorbs any ozone particles that may escape from the encapsulated ionization chamber.

In fact, testing shows that the ozone concentration in our system's output air is actually lower than in the incoming air. Blueair's electrostatic system is no threat to health, even for those with respiratory illness.


Can Blueair systems remove indoor gases?

Yes. The Blueair air purification system can remove gases and fumes such as tobacco smoke, auto exhaust, chemical fumes, smoke from forest fires and gases released by synthetic building materials.

The standard HEPASilent filter is made of polypropylene, which help mechanically filter out airborne particles. To maximize filter effectiveness, particles are negatively charged by the Blueair unit before reaching the filters.

The optional SmokeStop filter uses activated carbon media to trap gases and odors. We recommend the enhanced SmokeStop filter for removing tobacco smoke and for any indoor environment where gaseous pollutants are present. Such environments might include work or hobby rooms (where strong glues and paints are used) and kitchens.


How do gases find their way indoors?

The use of chemical-based household and personal cleaners, indoor pesticides, and aerosols of all kinds has dramatically increased our exposure to gaseous pollutants, which often linger inside today's tightly sealed, energy-efficient homes.

Other gases may be introduced into your indoor environment when the plastics, binders and glues in synthetic building materials, carpets and furnishings release particles into the air in a process called outgassing. Combustible gases from heating systems may also be present.

Outgassing can be a particular problem with new synthetic carpets and upholstery, paints and interior wall treatments, and even the pressed furniture that is popular today. All may produce noticeably strong odors and correspondingly high levels of gaseous contaminants, which diminish over time. Installing a SmokeStop filter during and after remodeling can temporarily increase your unit's air cleaning power when outgassing is a problem.

These irritating gases may be a factor in a host of illnesses related to indoor air pollution, from respiratory disease to chemical sensitivity. Even strong odors are known to have a significant effect on asthma. Blueair offers two levels of protection from the potential health problems associated with gaseous pollutants.

Standard HEPASilent filters incorporate non-toxic polypropylene filter media to trap particles and activated carbon filter media to remove gases. The optional SmokeStop filters offer added gas adsorption capability and are otherwise identical to standard Blueair system filters in terms of particle filtering ability, filter life and size. You simply replace the standard filter with the enhanced SmokeStop.


Can Blueair systems trap airborne bacteria?

The answer is a qualified "yes." Bacteria and viruses are trapped in Blueair filters.No air filtration system is 100% effective at removing 100% of all bacteria and viruses. However, Blueair's combination of mechanical and active electrostatic filtration provides exceptionally high levels of protection. Our HEPASilent technology traps and removes 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.1 micron.

Airborne bacteria and viruses are a common source of respiratory infection and a particular threat to infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune or cardiovascular systems, including people with allergies, asthma, AIDS and heart disease. Some serious infectious diseases are spread through airborne bacteria or viruses, including whooping cough, meningitis and anthrax.

How large are the bacteria and viruses that threaten human health? According to the Pennsylvania State University Department of Aerobiological Engineering airborne pathogens database, health-threatening bacteria and viruses range in size from .018 micron to as large as 1.325 microns. Airborne pathogens larger than 0.1 micron include:

- Chickenpox virus (Varicella zoster) at 0.12 to 0.2 micron
- Smallpox virus (Poxvirus variola) at 0.14 to 0.3 micron
- Whooping cough bacteria (Bordetella pertussis) at 0.2 to 0.3 micron
- Pneumonia bacteria (Mycoplasma pneumoniae) at 0.2 to 0.3 micron
- Bronchitis bacteria (Chlamydia pneumoniae) at 0.2 to 0.4 micron
- Meningitis bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae) at 0.2 to 0.3 micron
- Tuberculosis bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) at 0.2 to 0.6 micron
- Diphtheria bacteria (Corynebacteria diphtheria) at 0.3 to 0.8 micron
- Scarlet fever bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) at 0.6 to 1.0 micron
- Otitis media bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae) at 0.8 to 1.0 micron
- Anthrax bacteria (Bacillus anthracis) at 1.0 to 1.25 microns


Does using a Blueair system have any environmental impact?

Blueair air purification systems offer exceptional performance with minimal impact on the environment. We have designed every component to improve both human and environmental health, from the non-toxic filter media to the exterior finish. Our units are energy efficient and are constructed of superior materials for an exceptionally long service life. All components are recyclable.

LONG-LASTING: Blueair systems are designed and manufactured to provide years of service. The Blueair system housing is made of galvanized steel, rather than petroleum-based plastic. Steel is more durable than plastic, so the housing holds up over time.

EARTH-FRIENDLY MATERIALS: Blueair strives to use environmentally friendly materials to manufacture its products so that they can be recycled at the end of their useful service life. When you are ready to replace your Blueair unit, you'll find the entire system designed for quick disassembly to make recycling easy and practical. Should a Blueair unit end up in a landfill instead of being recycled, its steel housing releases no toxins into the environment. Blueair systems also use a special powder coat finish that produces no chemical outgassing.

NO CHEMICAL ADDITIVES: Because polypropylene fibers are waterproof, Blueair systems do not require the use of chemical-based bacteriostats or mold inhibitors. Instead of absorbing the moisture in which bacteria thrive, polypropylene repels water and naturally prevents bacteria, mold and mildew from reproducing inside the filter.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Blueair's advanced fan assembly consumes very little energy. In fact, our systems use no more power than a single lightbulb: from 5 to 20 watts on low to 10 to 120 watts on high, depending on the unit. Any appliance that can achieve high efficiency with lower power use helps reduce our overall consumption of fossil fuels.


Does Blueair's ionization process produce dangerous levels of ozone?

No. The most stringent government standards for indoor ozone are those of the Food and Drug Administration for indoor medical devices, which specify that ozone output be no more than .05 ppm. In a closed test room with the Blueair 501 in operation, probes measured ozone levels at .003 ppm-a tiny fraction of the amount deemed hazardous to human health. Our design safeguards against excessive ozone production, and then removes ambient ozone particles from the air.

Specifically, the Blueair 501 system was subjected to the Ozone Test outlined in section 37 of the Electrostatic Air Cleaner Standard, UL 867. The unit was positioned in the center of a closed 100 square foot room. The unit's ozone output was tested continuously throughout 24 hours of normal operation.

The official test results appear in graph form below. The graph shows a sharp decrease in ozone concentration while the Blueair 501 unit is operating, with ozone levels climbing again after the system is shut down.

The test demonstrates that HEPASilent filter technology reduces ozone in a sealed room, despite the trace amounts of ozone produced as a by-product of ionization technology.

How to Maintain Your Blueair

How can I get the most from my Blueair system?

The Blueair system is easy to use. Start by choosing the right size unit for your room, and replace the filter at the recommended intervals. Remember that just as air conditioners and heaters have limits to the volume of air they can cool or heat, every air purification system has limits to the volume of air it can clean. Follow these common-sense guidelines:

Close your windows. You wouldn't throw open your windows on a hot summer day and expect your air conditioner to work efficiently, because you can feel the hot air coming in and the cool air going out. Even though you can't see the contaminated air coming in and the clean air going out, the same logic applies to your air purifier.

Close your doors, too. Just as you might seal off part of your house on a cold winter night to keep your heater working more efficiently, seal off the room in which your system is working for best results. This is especially important for people using a Blueair system to ease nighttime asthma or allergy attacks.

Run your system 24 hours a day. Blueair systems are designed for phenomenally low power usage, so you can run the system 24/7 without a jump in electricity consumption. In fact, it costs about the same to power one of our air purification units as it does to power a single light bulb: between 5 and 120 watts, depending on the unit and the operating speed.

Vacuum or wipe clean. If visible 'fluff' builds up on the outside of the air intake grids, as it can in dustier parts of the world, simply vacuum it away or wipe clean with a damp cloth. The air intake grid is designed in part to intercept very large particles before they enter the system, thereby prolonging the life of the filter. The 402 units may also be vacuumed on the inside, if necessary, while the side panels are open for filter replacement.


How often should I change the filter in my Blueair unit?

In order to maintain the high performance level you expect from Blueair, we recommend filter replacement at a four-, six- or 12-month interval, depending on the model.

Why so often? The amount and type of indoor air pollution can vary dramatically from environment to environment. Some manufacturers claim an exceptionally long filter life for their units - some as long as 5 years! At Blueair, we tell you how often filters need to be changed in the real world, not under best-case conditions in a laboratory setting.

Clearly, replacing filters every few months increases the maintenance cost of your Blueair system. However, we believe you would rather know up front what it takes to keep your indoor air clean and healthy. Without regular filter replacement, your air cleaner is operating at only a small percentage of optimum performance. With regular filter replacement, you are assured best of class performance for the life of the system.

More questions? Call Aviva toll-free (866) 947-6789 for information on Blueair products.


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