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Glossary of Indoor Air Quality Terms

ACH 

Air changes per hour (ACH) describes the number of air exchanges a unit can make for a particular room in on hour at the highest fan speed.

Activated Carbon

Activation increases the surface area of the carbon. When toxic chemicals come in contact, intermolecular forces draw them into the millions of pores and pockets on the surface of activated carbon. 

Air Cleaners

Also known as air purifiers, remove airborne particles including dust mites, pollen, molds and pet allergens. Some air cleaners also remove chemicals from the air. 

Bio-aerosols  

Biological aerosols are airborne living organisms or their by products including fungi, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, mold spores and pollen. Health risks include: allergy, asthma, infectious disease and toxic response.   

CFM

Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is the measurement of how much air passes through the unit. In an Austin Air Standard, the CFM without the filter is 400 and with the filter it is 250.

Chemisorbers

Chemisorbers are added to the activated carbon to help  break down large molecules (VOC’s) into smaller ones so they are more easily adsorbed by the filter. Austin Air uses Potassium Iodide in the HealthMate Plus (HM450).

Decibel

A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement to determine sound intensity.

HEPA

HEPA-High Efficiency Particulate Air is a standard of filtration established by the Atomic Energy Commision (AEC) in the 1940’s. HEPA media captures 99.97% of particulates in the air down to 0.3 microns in size. Current research by NASA has shown that true medical grade HEPA  captures particulates down to 0.015 micron in size.

HEGA

HEGA (High Efficiency Gas Arrestance) is a special woven activated carbon cloth for gas and odor adsorption.  For protection against chemicals, gases and biological threats, including viruses and bacteria and is both anti-microbial and virucidal.

Humidity

Humidity affects the growth and proliferation of bio-aerosols including dust mites, mold spores and infectious diseases including bacteria and viruses. Maintaining a relative humidity of 40 – 60 % is helpful in managing bio-aerosols.

IAQ

IAQ stands for Indoor Air Quality and refers to the level of pollutants found in the air inside closed spaces such as homes and offices.

Indoor Air Pollutants  

Asbestos, Biological Pollutants, Carbon Monoxide (CO) Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products, Lead (Pb), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Pesticides, Radon (Rn)

Infectious Disease 

Health problems caused by microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. 

Ionization, Ozone, UV, Plasma

Many “air purifiers” feature UV, ionization and plasma technology.  These products produce ozone, a known lung irritant that increases the incidence of allergies and asthma.

Micron (µm)

Micron, or micrometer, is a unit of size equal to 1/millionth of a meter or .00004 inches.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)

Organic Vapor – VOCs

VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) are gases or liquids that evaporate quickly. These carbon based substances include; petroleum, disinfectants, sterilants, solvents, and perfumes.

PM Particulate Matter 

Tiny particles (liquids or solid) that are suspended in the air including dust, pollen,and bio-aerosols. 

PM2.5 Particulate Matter that is  smaller than 2.5 Microns.  High levels of PM2.5 are a health hazard. 

Toxic Mold

Mold that produces mycotoxins including Stachybotrys chartarum (Black Mold) and Aspergillus. 

Zeolites

Commercial adsorbents work with the activated carbon to remove chemicals, gases and odors from the air.

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