Should You Choose a Building Air Cleaner or an Air Purifier?
With the smog common in many urban areas around Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the chemical fumes and other pollutants produced during business operations, the air inside a large commercial building can quickly become dangerously unhealthy. An efficient air cleaner or air purifier can get rid of the air contaminants to protect the health of the building occupants.
Although technically air cleaners and air purifiers are the same, many people use the term air cleaner to describe an ordinary air filtration system. This is inaccurate because filtration systems and purification systems use different technology and remove different types of air contaminants. The right system for you depends largely on the type of contaminants you want to control.
When to Choose an Air Cleaner
An air cleaner uses a filter to physically remove contaminant particles from the air that passes through it. Among the contaminants air cleaners can remove are:
- Mold spores
- Insect debris
- Carpet fibers
- Aerosol spray particles
- Some types of bacteria
Because some amount of contaminant particles is present in all commercial buildings, using an air cleaner is nearly always a good idea. Dust, pollen, and mold spores can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, as well as irritate the lungs of otherwise healthy people. An efficient air cleaning system protects your building occupants’ respiratory health, helping to reduce work absenteeism.
Exactly how much of which kind of particles an air cleaner can remove depends on the efficiency of its filter. A filter’s MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) gives you an idea of its efficiency. Filters with a higher MERV are higher efficiency filters, and therefore remove larger amounts of small particles compared to those with low MERV numbers.
If you’re serious about achieving high indoor air quality, consider having a HEPA filtration system installed. These high-efficiency filters can capture 99.97 percent of dust particles that are 0.3 microns, which includes viruses, bacteria, and even smoke.
Air cleaners that rely on filters have no affect on gaseous air contaminants such as chemical fumes.
When to Choose an Air Purifier
An air purifier uses technology that neutralizes air contaminants, rather than physically trapping them. One of the most common air purifiers uses activated charcoal to chemically absorb odors and gaseous air contaminants. In the typical commercial building, gaseous air contaminants often come in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from sources such as:
- Paint and varnish
- Printers and copy machines
- Cleaning products
- Air fresheners
When allowed to build up, these contaminants can cause headaches, fatigue, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. If your main goal is to protect your building occupants from gaseous contaminants, then an air purifier is a wise investment.
A ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system is another option. These purification systems shine UV light into your HVAC air duct to neutralize biological contaminants such as mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. This can help reduce the number of colds and flu that go around the office.
Because air purification systems without filters can’t trap larger particles, if you want to reduce the dust, pollen, and mold spores in your building’s air, you’ll still need a filtration system.
For optimal indoor air quality, consider using both an air cleaner and an air purifier. In-duct air filtration and purification systems are available that combine multiple technologies to control a wide range of pollutants.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on choosing an air cleaner or air purifier and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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