Preventing Mold with Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are handy equipment especially for those with mold allergies. They help by ridding the atmosphere off allergens, mold spores included, which cause allergic reactions. They also make an ideal prevention measure for mold growth.
Factors to consider when acquiring an air purifier –
- Speed i.e. volume of air it can clean per hour
- Filter replacement
- Power consumption
- Noise level
- Air Purifiers
There are different types of air purifiers in the market. The main ones include:
- Ozone Generators
- Activated Carbon (activated carbon is often included as a pre-filter in HEPA air purifiers)
- UV (ultraviolet light)
Which Air Purifier is Ideal for Mold
Because mold has micro sized spores that float in the air especially during remediation, the HEPA filtered purifier is the best option. It works by filtering up to 99.97% of small micro particles from the air. It does filter 0.3micron particles. Mold spores range between 1 and 20 microns so they are easily captured by the HEPA filter.
Another ideal purifier is the Activated Carbon which is usually integrated in the HEPA air purifier as a pre-filter. The pre-filter’s function is to absorb mold odor because it absorbs VOCs and MVOCs from mold well enough.
Removing mold spores with air purifiers
Any mold challenge in the home is first addressed by removal. It will be noteworthy to mention that air purifiers only remove mold spores in the air and not mold growing on surfaces. Mold is removed using different means.
Mold spores can be present in the air anytime, particularly after mold removal since mold will have been disturbed enough to release some particles in the air. Sometimes mold spores will be blown in from the outside air while some spores will be remain in the air because you cannot possibly clear all particles from the air.
While it is impossible to remove all spores from the air, it is possible to manage them to a minimum harmless level. Air purifiers are designed to run throughout to maintain clean air at all times. These purifiers generally consume less power and are quiet, and you can expect them to purify your air literally, within a short time after being turned on.
Air Purifiers for Mold Prevention
Mold spores not only cause allergic reactions but also contribute to the growth of mold in your house. By getting rid of mold spores in the air, you will have prevented them from landing on wet surfaces and potentially growing into mold. Air purifiers are therefore a long-term mold prevention solution.
Air Purifiers for Pollen, Dust, Pet Dander, Bacteria, and Other Allergens
Alongside mold spores, air purifiers also remove pollen, dust, dust mite feces, pet dander, bacteria, smoke, VOCs, and other allergens found in your air space. Some even remove viruses from the air.
Therefore, if you are asthmatic, air purifiers are an asset. In addition, it saves you the trouble of having to dust or vacuum every other time.
Things to consider when buying an Air Purifier
1. Room Size
The size of room you intend to use the air purifier in will greatly determine the purifier you will buy. When buying a purifier, look out for room size information on it. It will be practical to acquire one whose capability equals or is greater than the size of your room.
Usually room size factor goes hand in hand with a purifier’s recommended speed. A good purifier will do two rounds of air purification in an hour. Other faster ones will do six air changes in the same hour. Simply put, the more air changes per hour (ACH) a purifier can handle the better it is.
You will notice that an air purifier will indicate the volume of air it has cleaned at different speeds in cubic feet per hour (cu ft/hr) or cubic feet per minute (cu ft/min).
2. Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)
Clean Air Delivery Rate refers to the volume of a specific particle that an air purifier will clean in a minute. It is arrived at by multiplying the volume (in cubic feet per m) of air flown out of the purifier and the percentage of particles removed.
For instance, a good purifier will deliver between 10 and 400 CADR for dust particles, 25 and 450 CADR for pollen and 10 and 450 CADR for tobacco smoke. 350 CADR and above is excellent performance while that below 100 is poor.
3. Power Consumption
How much electricity an equipment consumes is an important factor as it is pegged on cost. However, faster air purifiers generally consumer more power compared to the average ones and these provide the best option for large rooms.
On the other hand, it is possible to find a more efficient air purifier that will consume less power compared to others of the same capacity.
There is no cause for worry, purifiers are affordable in terms of power cost. this is because most of them will consume 10watts or less.
4. Filter Replacement
Filter replacement is a recurrent or operating cost that you should expect if you are planning to buy an air purifier. What informs this cost is how frequently you replace your filters and at how much.
In the case of removing mold spores, HEPA filters are ideal. Usually they will last you six months to five years depending on how you use them. Again, you can go for the washable ones, as they will give you longer service.
5. Noise Levels
How much noise an air purifier will produce depends partly on the speed at which it is operating. If on low speed, you can expect minimum noise levels and vice versa. However, most purifiers are generally quiet and shouldn’t produce disturbing noise even when operating on high speed.
Most air purifiers will have the amount of noise in decibels (Db) indicated on them.
TYPES OF AIR PURIFIERS
1. HEPA Air Purifier
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. These paper-like filters are made of mat randomly arranged fibers that filter 99.97% of 0.3 or larger micron size particles from the air. They are also lined with an antimicrobial layer. HEPA filters are ideal for removing mold spores since these spores range between 1 and 20 microns in size. In this way, you will be preventing the growth or spread of molds.
Apart from mold spores, HEPA filters will remove other allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander from the air thereby guaranteeing you clean quality indoor air.
Knowing how to identify a genuine HEPA filter is important, as there are filters in the market that resemble but are not HEPA filters. HEPA filters have a rating for example H10. A higher rating means better filtering.
Furthermore, HEPA filters are safe for the environment since they do not emit harmful by products like ozone. Therefore, running your purifier throughout will not be harmful to your health.
Like other filters, HEPA filters need replacement when they are worn-out. Your purifier should have information about how long the filter will last. While some will take you six months, others will take you years.
2. Activated Carbon Air Purifiers
Activated carbon absorbs gas molecules like odor, chemical, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air. It is common to find carbon filters integrated as pre filters in air purifiers. Most HEPA purifiers come with activated carbon pre filters.
3. Ionizer Air Purifiers
Ionizer air purifiers release negative ions in the air which then attach to allergens causing allergens to drop on surfaces. Negative ions usually remain in this state for 30seconds. Other ionizers come with charged collector plates that attract allergens. Both of these processes are known as active air purification because purification takes place outside the air purifier. In HEPA purifiers, purification takes place inside the purifier and this is known as passive purification.
A good offering of the ionizer air purifier is that they need no filters and consume relatively low power keeping your cost low. However, they are not as good as HEPA filters when it comes to removing mold spores from the air. Ionizers will remove mold spores from the air nut not from the room. Unless mold spores are removed from the room, they are still likely to cause allergic reactions.
Considering room size, ionizer purifiers are again not better than HEPA as they do not have the capacity to clean large rooms unless they come with ionizer fans. The downside of using a purifier with an ionizer fan is that much as it is faster, it consumes more power and is a bit noisier.
Ionizer purifiers will produce ozone below the safety standard levels so they are safe but not safer than HEPA purifiers. Ozone is a toxic and reactive molecule that affects the lungs when released in the air at a high level.
Ionizer air purifiers will also cause ‘black walls’ or dark spots where the ionizer runs.
4. Ultraviolet Light Air Purifiers
UV light when shone on mold long enough kills mold spores. The downside of it is that you cannot reach tight corners and therefore will not kill all mold spores in the room. Again, it is time consuming as it takes minutes of shining it on mold for mold spores to be destroyed.
UV light is best used in combination with other filters inside purifiers. This way, microorganisms like mold spores get destroyed after being filtered from the air.
5. Ozone Generator Air Purifiers
An ozone generator operates by producing very reactive molecules known as ozone, which destroys biological organisms such as bacteria and mold. One should be careful when using this method to remove mold spores because high levels of ozone in the room will not only destroy mold spores but also affect lungs.
Ozone purifiers have been limited to use by commercial companies who use them to treat shock. During treatment, it is recommended that you and your family leave the house for hours to allow ozone molecules to clear from the air.